Today’s new generation of journalists is entering a media environment where “everything is possible, up for grabs, and nothing is certain.” This was the view of noted journalist, author, and educator Dan Gillmor, who spoke to students at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre on February 14.
In his talk, “Imagining Journalism’s Future: Conversation, Data, Experimentation, and Entrepreneurship,” Gillmor said he was excited about the future of journalism. But he cautioned that the ever-growing supply of news sources was blurring traditional lines, making it all the more important to distinguish true journalism from other forms of media, like blogging.
At the same time, he praised some of the new media, such as blogs by experts and advocacy sites, which he said were making important contributions to journalism. He pointed to groups such as Human Rights Watch, which are now producing their own news content and not just passing on information to traditional media outlets. “Today, we’re all part of the same journalism ecosystem,” he said.
According to Gillmor, the most important change occurring in today’s media is that “it’s now all about having a conversation with your readers.” What should not change, he said, were journalistic principles such as thoroughness, accuracy, fairness, and independence. And some old-fashioned skepticism: “Journalists also need to take a deep breath and learn to mistrust information,” he added.
Students should also not get hung up over the notion of “objective journalism.” “It’s a mythical animal,” he said. “I’m not a believer in this. The principle is good but hard to achieve.” Instead, what today’s media needed more of was transparency. “You have to let people know where you’re coming from. This helps us get to the goal of objectivity.”
With today’s consumers becoming more discerning about where their news comes from, Gillmor advised JMSC students to not only be more entrepreneurial, but also become experts. “Future journalism will be from people who have expertise in some area. They’ll be trusted, as they know more. It all comes back to who you trust, the New York Times or a blog.”