Journalism in the Digital Storm

Written by: Bianca Manelli, Chantal Cocherová, Georgios Evgenidis, Jiahuan He, Lara Corrado, Suhasni Midha, Yuliia Hladka, Zeynep Atilgan Ozgenc, Luciano Morganti & Heritiana Ranaivoson

What is news? What makes somebody a journalist? In the era of social media and blogs, the answers to these questions are not as clear as they were 10 years ago. With professional journalism still struggling to work through the digitalization of media, the rise of citizen journalism challenges the definition of both news and journalist.

With a few tools at disposal, a smartphone and a taste for news, an internet connection, a Twitter account and a good bunch of followers, if somebody tweets from a social movement, a demonstration or a fire, they can make an online trend. But, does any reported information qualify as news? Does this tweeting activity make them journalists?

According to the American Press Institute, journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. Following this general definition, anyone with a smartphone and social media account could technically do journalistic activities.

Is this definition sufficient to capture journalism? In the digital era, journalism needs to be redefined in order to account for how news and journalist as a profession have evolved in the last years.

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Fight Fake News? Rather improve Media Diversity and Transparency

Written by Heritiana Ranaivoson, Luciano Morganti, imec-SMIT-Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Fake News getting increasing attention

Fake news seems to be all over the place now. While there have always been rumours and unverified information circulating through word of mouth or through media, the term itself gained in popularity due to the tone of the debate during the US presidential election in 2016 and in the debates preceding the so-called Brexit referendum. More recently, Jair Bolsonaro has been accused of benefiting from an undemocratic and criminal industry of fake news and lies which led to his election as Brazil’ president-elect. In contrast to previous examples where Facebook had been the main focus of accusations, in Brazil, it is WhatsApp (owned by Facebook!) which is at the centre of accusations.

 

As a result, laws against fake news have been discussed in several European Union countries, notably in France and Germany, and the topic is highly debated also amongst European Institutions.

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