Information Age And The Challenge To Journalism Profession
From the primitive time to the present age, there is no doubt that there are substantial changes in the world. Today, we have new political, economic, social and technological environment, being driven by advancement in science and technology in different areas of human endeavour. These rapid changes have introduced globalization which is currently shaping the world economy.
The communication sector globally is not left out of these changes. From the onset in the 16th century when the movable type printing technology was invented, leading to production of books, newspapers and magazines, mass communication has generally been technologically driven. Every stage in the advancement of communication technology has introduced new Vistas to communication profession.
New communication technologies (ICTs) are rapidly emerging and becoming more widely available, thereby giving many people globally, access to information creation and dissemination. This has brought about information revolution, resulting to a knowledge-based society.
These rapid advancements in ICTs have many positive implications for the journalism profession. Apart from making various tools available for easy information gathering, it also makes dissemination faster such that events are reported live just as they occur. The Internet gives journalists access to different online sources to get information and enrich their stories. Mobile phones enable reporters to contact their sources and also send in their reports with ease despite the distance.
ICTs have completely bridged geographical boundaries, bringing the world into what is termed a 'global village'. Social media sites like: Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc., provide platforms where people interact daily in a participatory fashion to share ideas and perceptions on various issues affecting them. This has brought about high level of interactivity and instant feedback thereby making everyone with access to the Internet a user and equally information consumers (a luxury that was never in place prior to the ICT revolution).
There are also down sides of ICT in journalism. The incidence of fake news is a big challenge to contend with in this information age. There are photo editing applications that enable the manipulation of pictures to convey fake messages.
Also, because ICTs enable every user to create and disseminate, this has afforded unscrupulous individuals opportunity to spread fake information which sometimes are laden with hate messages that often incite people to engage in violence.
We are no more in the era of news gatekeepers who ensure that what is disseminated is factual and in good public taste. This currently is mostly found in mainstream media outlets who still maintain journalism standards.
Most content creators or bloggers have no background in journalism and do not care about journalism ethics that guide professional conducts. They are mostly interests in driving traffic to their sites/blogs thereby creating sensational and fake messages to woo online users.
In the midst of these, mainstream media are drowned in the murky waters of professional aberration occasioned by the online quarks that maraud the media space snuffing out the old revered status of the media in the society.
Despite the shortcomings in the journalism profession caused by the ICTs, true traditional journalism can still thrive.
Media professionals need to explore how to positively use the technologies in order to adapt to societal changes and be able to adequately serve the information needs of the public.
There are some software applications that help in fact checking to verify stories and picture posted in the Internet and be able to distinguish fake news and the genuine ones.
Managers of different social media platforms also adopt some measures to filter and block fake messages, gory pictures and vidoes circulated online especially during crisis in a particular region of the world which could escalate crisis.
Victor Ezeja, a journalist and communication scholar, writes from Nsukka, Enugu state, Nigeria.
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