If those trying to turn journalism into the enemy prevail, we would lose our right to independent access to information
Making a positive difference in someone’s life is the greatest gift a journalist can aspire to. It may be that you hear about a person for the first time or that an injustice is being rectified. Those moments when a news editor picks up the phone and hears a terrified voice on the other end of the line saying, “You’re all I’ve got left, I have nowhere else to go.” It is the last step between hope and defeat.
It’s a sacred convention as old as journalism; however, the turn of our times would try to divide people and editors. If those who try to make journalism the enemy prevail, we would lose our right to independent access to information. And as we all know, it would be dangerous to live in a world where the facts are kept hidden from people.
During the global pandemic, ratings around the world were broken as readers, viewers and radio listeners take in all kinds of news and information that could save our lives. It was then that a minority louder than ever branded this movement with a derogatory term, the so-called ‘mass milieu’, as if it were wrong to belong to a fact-based milieu. And this simply because the facts can sometimes be uncomfortable and journalists take on the enormous responsibility of presenting them well.
We know that since the start of World News Day in 2018, the challenges for this sector are increasing. We may have a better understanding of the business pressures and habits of an ever-changing audience, but we still have a long way to go to explain ourselves, leading to some editing delays. Revealing the methodology and how the facts are revealed is now becoming as important as the facts themselves.
The potential audience consumes most of the information in closed networks that develop at a very fast pace. We constantly see examples of small minority groups of very active people believing what they are told, often by powerful forces who have something to hide. The figure of the journalist is used as bait in an attack on these inconvenient truths. As a result, the industry has to spend more time reaching out to those who have already established the facts, even if they don’t have authorship on it.
There are shielded environments on the Internet that prevent the plurality of thoughts and opinions, as well as the exchange of facts and reality itself. Of the many changes we face, certainty is one of the least attractive features at stake.
World News Day, in which more than 500 editorial boards participate, is a global initiative aimed at improving media literacy and public engagement. We include examples of how life improves when journalists tell us a story. We defend our work based on the belief that access to information is a human right.
The continuous and rapid changes, along with the dangers and risks of society, sometimes seem to go in one direction, leaving the global public more and more suffocated and saturated with information. We must play a constructive role among the extraordinary advances in the information world.
Never has the convening power of independent journalism been so important; The sad thing is that the risks and threats from those who tell us the stories, the journalists, are also increasing. The speed of polarization (a term used in the 18th century to denote the characteristics of light in photography) renders the similarity obsolete. But as editors around the world often announce, we are all entitled to our opinions, but not to our own facts.
War, economic uncertainty or the determination to ignore generational practices in our institutions are some of the changes facing the world. Journalism at its best is at the center of it all, where its role is to unite rather than divide through mutual understanding and transparency.
The mission of World News Day is to help the information industry better explain itself, make the global public aware that good information contributes to making our lives better.
When Joe Biden, the President of the United States, was born, the truth was that he was closer to Abraham Lincoln’s mandate than to his own, a perspective that emphasizes less on the man’s age and more on the opportunities and progress made in the last century that makes us seriously doubt the direction we will take from now on.
David Walmsley is editor of the Canadian newspaper ‘The Globe and Mail’ and creator of World News Day.
Organized by the World Editors Forum of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) in conjunction with the Canadian Foundation for Journalism, World News Day is a global journalism campaign to highlight the value of journalism.
Source: La Verdad