The ever same questions some European media journalists just can’t stop asking

I had (the privilege) to give a couple of interviews to media journalists these last days in Europe and keep wondering: why are eight out of ten questions about the future of journalism predictably negative and why do they seem to keep asking the same questions over the last seven to eight years?

Here is the usual set of questions posed by so many European media journalists:

“Citizen journalists pose a threat to media organizations”
I have never met anyone who called themselves a ‘citizen journalist’. Have you? Variant from last week: “Periscope is a threat to news organizations, how can news organizations respond to that threat?” Are you fucking kidding me? Periscope can become a treasure trove of material for us.

“Introducing data into newsrooms makes journalists think about clicks instead of journalistic relevance”
First of all, what is a ‘click’ and when comes the day when we can start discussing metrics with you beyond ‘clicks?’ What do you even mean with ‘clicks’? Is that a page view, a visit, a video-start? I honestly have no idea what you guys mean. Beyond that lack of data literacy, though, where do you take this certainty from that journalists should be kept in the dark regarding their readers’ behaviour, interest in and interaction with their journalistic work? Why would you keep belittling journalists like that?

“User comments: Should quality-media still allow them?”
“Allow them”? How do you not allow them and why has no one ever — as in: never ever — asked me about the benefits of user comments, which there are so many of?

“What about paywalls? The New York Times is very successful with it.” Shoot me now, please. Thank you.

“Publishing for Facebook means producing ever more cat content. Isn’t this degrading journalism?”
Now that you’ve said that, I just realized, I haven’t seen a cat on Facebook in a very long time. But let me ask you: Who are your friends on Facebook?

You get the point.

Yes, there is a lot to worry about, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of risk and there are many journalists who loose their jobs these days. But would it really be ‘un-journalistic’ to get excited by journalism’s fantastic new opportunities? Would it be less authoritative to test different reasons for being optimistic when interviewing practitioners? And where is this unreflected romanticism about journalism’s past coming from? And lastly, what makes you think digital journalists still have to justify their optimism? Up your game, please.

(Update: See “Good questions trigger conversations”)

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