Who are you?
There are people reinventing the way we make news while journalism struggles to find its place again.
As in The Who’s famous hit, “Who Are You?”, a journalism student like myself has a few problems when trying to understand where my chosen profession is going. The concept of crisis is defined by that moment when you’re in the same place for some time, but there’s changes going on — even though you can’t see them. And suddenly, one day, the structures have been modified. But, where’s it heading into? As a result of economic and social changes from the past years, big companies aren’t “the thing” anymore. Increasingly, colleagues drop out of traditional nine to five jobs to find their meaning in journalism through alternative initiatives. In America, they have Vox or FiveThirthyEight, with smaller budgets and high quality in data use and design. What internet brought to the profession are all these new possibilities. It’s like a social wave, how society behaves and how the mediator, in this case, the journalist, is going to translate it to the public. What is the difference? More than ever, society needs “filter”. Like gatekeepers of all information that is out there, journalists will edit even more reality. Talk to smaller audiences, give back more profound and better checked stories. How you’re going to tell your story is the catch. Older journalists have a hard time getting adjusted to websites publishers and there’s a very deep gap between technology and reporters. We don’t do good with numbers, as they told me in my first year in college. We have entered a phase marked by fluidity. Pop culture tells you everyday that it’s ok to be more than one thing and we shouldn’t settle for something that doesn’t really represent us. So why can’t we make more out of work? It’s not for everyone to spend great part of the day staring at a computer screen. Will people start opening their own businesses? Probably the few who have understood their public. It’s like when you create a brand. What is the identity of it? Who are you going to speak to? The more contact you have with the people you want to convince to read, more dimensions you’ll have for your product. Yes, some journalists hate marketing people. We’re not going to cave into the advertising world, there’s lot of people doing that, but more than ever we need to take control of the entire “chain” of making news. Not leave it all to the guys wearing suits.
When I used to think about reporters, I would always imagine a thirty year old guy, smoking a cigarette on the phone or writing down something. But I have to tell you, since day one in university and in my past jobs, there’s only women out there. Interesting, powerful, intelligent ladies writing amazing stories and with inspiring careers. Things change and, hopefully, we will still be alive to see a different scenario. It’s kind of foggy but it’s like the verse that Roger Daltrey sings: “God, there’s got to be another way”.
Essay originally written for British Council’s Future News program in 2015.