Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Clear-headed journalism

COMMENT

TAGS: Media

Journalism is facing a major crisis on a global scale, as the job becomes more complex and constantly presents fresh dilemmas.

The speed at which information is disseminated is impressive, but it is also a curse. Anyone can act the journalist by posting a tweet and it is the instinctive reaction of the traditional media to try keep up with the pace. Newspapers and even television before the advent of stations broadcasting 24/7, offered the luxury of cross-checking every news item several times before going to print. Under pressure from social media, though, this is fast disappearing.

The risks are even greater in a country like Greece, where dozens of websites and blogs run an endless stream of copy/paste news, lightning-fast reproductions of something someone wrote, without taking a moment for verification. The crisis has slashed budgets and taken a toll on quality – so that anything goes. The number of inconsistencies, lies and myths that a huge part of public opinion swallows every day is indeed huge. People living in bubbles are not aware of the extent of the problem because they don’t have contact with a large section of society and, of course, tend to get their information from reliable sources. But what’s happening out there is scary.

Anglo-Saxon culture, meanwhile, had dictated an uncrossable line between comment and news; it is the first thing you’re taught at journalism school. This is no longer the case. Even that “Gray Lady” of American journalism, the New York Times, has become less reserved about expressing its passions and opinions. The same is evident in other newspapers that have declared war on US President Donald Trump, for example, or are responding to the war he has declared on them. News stations like CNN or FOX, for example, are also more open about expressing their political or ideological beliefs.

The pressure to do the same is great, and even more so in a country that doesn’t have much of a tradition in unbiased journalism. Even readers and viewers, meanwhile, appear to demand this change when they find a headline that’s objective and cool-headed simply boring. It is much easier for them to log onto Facebook or some other social media and look for opinions that mirror their own.

The global stage of public discourse has become incredibly toxic, as fervent populists from the political arena, both in Greece and abroad, apply the successful Trump recipe: All-out hate towards the media, communication via social media and disregard for the truth. The question at hand is how the news media responds: When everyone in the colosseum is acting like a barbarian, it takes a great deal of effort to stay calm without appearing aloof.

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