Emotions will save journalism in the digital age
Journalism today is flourishing next to birthday wishes, weird GIFs and private chats. If it is to thrive as the foundation of a free society in the future it needs a lot more emotions.
Now the rebel child and increasingly popular social medie Snapchat is moving in somewhat same direction by putting personal stories before otherwise extremely popular publicists such as National Geographic, Buzzfeed and CNN on our mobile screens.
It’s not that we don’t want news and journalism in our social feeds. On the contrary as a matter of fact. More people are now getting their news from social media than directly from the platforms of the media producing the news as this report from Pew Research shows us.
So when Facebook and Snapchat changes the algorithms towards the more personal activities it’s not because journalism isn’t relevant or fit for our digital lives.
But our media consumption is a lot more centered around emotions and personal relevance than it used to be. So if journalism as a profession is to thrive and survive in the new order that social media is, it will need to get a lot more emotional.
That’s the main argument in the essay “On the role of Emotion in the Future of Journalism” by fellow media academics Charlie Beckett of London School of Economics and Mark Deuze from University of Amsterdam.
The argument as it goes is that we no longer live with media. We live in media.
Before we would listen to the news on radio in the morning, read the newspaper in the afternoon and then watch the news on tv in the evening. The rest of the day we went by our duties and social relations wishing relatives a happy birthday, discussed politics with colleagues and gossiped with friends in the café.
Today all of that is happening in the media. And all of it in a great mix with no real structure, divide or reservations.
Big and small hits us from all directions at the very same time while we are busy publishing our own stuff as if we were independent media operations. It is in this river of constant updates that professional news and journalism also lives. We are fluently shifting from the very near to the general level.
This great melting pot of everything is growing the amount of information that reaches us. And with more information but the same amount of time speed is naturally increasing too. So as media becomes faster they also become more emotional.
Or as the two researchers quotes Internet thinker Clay Shirky:
This should all lead to a general reevaluation of the ruling criteria of objectivity in journalism.
Not because we now just want feelings everywhere. We still need and seek out serious and critical journalism. And everybody seems to agree that journalism is actually more important now than ever (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 different arguments on why).
But we don’t just want information. We want an explanation on why something is important, we want to feel an engagement, a passion, a curiosity or an indignation from the people that are claiming our time and awareness.
Before we used to feel an obligation to spend time listening to the boring uncle, because we couldn’t avoid him at the family party. But the party has moved. And it’s now full of exiting people and fascinating personalities with powerful stories.
It’s only natural that we are leaving the rest behind.
If journalism is here to create and enhance public debate then it needs to follow the public. And the public is now on social media where trust and authority is increasingly based on the ability to create emotional bonds.
In a world of endless information and news the competition is tough just as it’s challenging to build a digital business. But nothing points to the end of journalism as a general need. Maybe even the opposite.
Which is why emotional investments are needed more than ever too. 😘
If you feel it too, please share this piece with your network and hit ❤️. And if you have any great stories or thoughts on this subject — let us know in the comments.
Take a look at some of our other stories:
- Free Speech is Now a Brutal War on the Internet
- Six books that explain the world of today
- Missionaries will take out mercenaries in the digital age