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  • Writer's pictureNow Age Storytelling team

Newspapers used to offer people a spiritual home. How can today’s journalists translate this into their compass?



I read and hear more and more often that the old news model is outdated and journalism part of the creative industry. In other words, journalists often times cast themselves as creators.


This is overly simplistic for many reasons and in certain respects fundamentally flawed. Here, I’ll present four critical reflections on this topic, particularly focusing on journalists within the public service media:


1.The notion that news itself is outdated is a misconception. What people seek is news that is meticulously researched and eloquently presented - depending on context-related needs -, serving as a reliable source of information and service to their communities.


The imperative lies in the need for journalists and news managers to perpetually evolve in terms of content strategy, business models, and dissemination frameworks.


Regrettably, many news organizations respond to these challenges like sleepwalkers, complacent and sluggish.


2.In Germany and other democratic nations, the freedoms of speech, press, and education are enshrined in the constitution for profoundly significant reasons. These freedoms underpin the mandate of public service media: to inform diverse populations effectively and in a manner tailored to specific target groups, supported by secure funding.


The guiding principle for public service media and their journalists is clear: their compass should not point towards profit, but towards delivering quality content and responsibly harnessing their reach.


To draw a parallel, just as a dentist differs from a mechatronics engineer despite both employing augmented reality technologies in their work, journalists are distinct from creatives, notwithstanding certain areas of overlap.


The divergence lies not just in the business model, but also in intention, purpose, and content strategy – all critical elements in fulfilling the mandate of information and education.

 

3.In the digital era, we find ourselves in a landscape of networked societies characterized by mass self-communication, where individuals are perpetually online, dispersing their attention across a multitude of platforms.


It is incumbent upon public service journalism to navigate this new reality and to provide solutions that extend beyond conventional approaches. These solutions should aim at fostering critical thinking, cultivating connections, and sharpening focus among the public.

And, there is an unprecedented need, more so than in previous decades, for public service journalism to establish and maintain independent platforms that can thrive in this ever-evolving digital milieu.


4.Journalists and public service media must adopt a definitive and robust stance on artificial intelligence in the contemporary landscape.


They are tasked with acknowledging AI's potential, utilizing it effectively, and reporting on its advancements. Simultaneously, it's crucial for them to recognize and champion the unique attributes of authentic human intelligence, harnessing and reporting on its distinct capabilities.


AI is instrumental in creating network effects and fostering digital networks, whereas human capabilities are pivotal in establishing connection, fostering a sense of belonging, and maintaining focus.


It is insufficient to merely assert a priori generalities like the value of empathy or attention. This is particularly pressing in light of emerging studies suggesting that, in certain contexts, individuals may find chatbots to exhibit more authenticity and empathy than humans, such as medical personnel.


This phenomenon demands a deeper investigation and understanding, highlighting the complex interplay between technology and human interaction in our society.



Conclusion


Journalists must profoundly grasp their significance within communities and discern what truly resonates. It's essential for them to deeply understand the reception of their reports and stories, examining how they forge authentic, credible, and enduring connections.


The human capacity for critical and moral analysis, along with introspection, is a vital unique tool. Journalists should strive to enhance their understanding of this capacity and continuously educate themselves about their role in relation to it.


News media have the responsibility to manifest their purpose through actions that align with their constitutional mandate.


This approach is crucial for bolstering resilience in times of crisis and amidst the distractions presented by modern technology. Such commitment will ensure that they remain steadfast and relevant in a rapidly evolving media landscape.

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