BOLIVIA JOURNALISM

Argentina's Fonseca: Journalism is needed more than ever now

12 de noviembre de 2017

La Paz, Nov 12 (efe-epa).- The amount of unverified information presently circulating on the social networks makes responsible journalism "more necessary than ever," Argentine reporter Diego Fonseca told EFE in Bolivia.

"The pulverization and atomization of information production, a product of the social networks and the Internet, in general, is making the view of professional reporters, professional interpreters of information, more and more necessary," said Fonseca in an interview with EFE in La Paz.

He said that currently there is "a great deal of information that is produced without any kind of attribution, without any way of adjustment" and one example of that is the existence of so-called "fake news."

"The fake news factories easily circulate (their product) on the Internet because people believe that that 'news' really has value, is credible and they reproduce it," he said.

Thus, he said that the journalistic method of verifying information, documentation and fact-checking "is indispensable to be able to discuss ... these mechanisms for constructing fiction which are alternative facts and 'fake news.'"

The reporter, who is also an author, arrived in Bolivia this past week to participate in a journalism conference organized by the private Bisa Bank, at which he discussed news and the social networks.

The first change in the dynamic of news presentation on the social networks was that they "broke up" the exchange or transmission of news to the target audiences, he said.

The traditional communications media "now see themselves obligated to find a new business model that allows them to regain" the importance they had as "facilitators" of news and information, as well as to ensure that they can make their continued existence sustainable.

"They need to rethink their business model ... because when the media lose their status as a channel of communications to other providers ... whether it be news or products ... they also lose the ability to attract those sponsors and those news providers so that they may be used as a link or channel to the public," Fonseca said.

Which road to follow in the current situation is not clear and there is "a lot of experimentation" and a lot of "trial and error" going on.

Another change has been that news outlets have become "much more fluid" and have become filled with new actors, since they have had to move from "analog production" to digital production.

This has meant "introducing new technologies, new platforms that change the internal dynamic, the internal culture and the internal power relationships within the media," he added.

He also said that the media are facing a problem in that audiences are changing very rapidly and "they are no longer faithful to a specific medium."

"There's a very natural migration. ... People are seeking information where they find information that is better constructed, where they feel that the information better satisfies their needs. And that forces the media to have to think about different modes of production and information," Fonseca said.

The Argentine said, however, that "the death of the print press" has not yet arrived, since people are reading "more than ever" nowadays and there is better and better written journalism being produced.