Do we really understand the value of independent journalism?

journalism

(Matt Popovich, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by one of our readers, Mr. Antonio C. Luque Ambrosiani. The opinions expressed within reflect only the writer’s views and not The European Sting’s position on the issue.

Latest news from the Cambridge Analytica scandal should prompt the following question: do we truly acknowledge newspapers as trustworthy institutions?

In this convulsive period of post-recession, fake news has entered our everyday vocabulary as one thing to hold into account when checking our social media updates. Noticeable amounts of scientific studies and investigative reports are generated each year trying to solve the whys of how all of this became true. But, are we done with this crisis?

Researchers concerned with this issue have dived into the matter, finding some worrying results which could affect our near future as European citizens. One example of this is the tremendous impact of misleading targeted messages and the Euro-scepticism generated because of them. An easy way out of this troublesome situation could be to just blame big tech companies over the whole thing, portraying ourselves as victims of a malicious supranational interest manipulating our innocent minds. But thinking like this won’t help us to maintain the system which has provided us with the highest living standards in the world.

Then, is there any room left for improvement? Can we contribute as individuals anyhow to the defence of truth in news reporting? For me, the answer is absolutely yes. As well as claiming against the business behind fake news production, dignification of news agencies which work to provide us with reliable information should be an endeavour for everyone of us. Providing journalists with a legal framework which makes them immune against external threats is one step forward, but not the panacea. We should also raise in our parliaments the topic of promoting, along with the individual support mentioned before, public trust in independent newspapers.

All along the political spectrum exits this urgent and crucial need of truth-oriented journalism to help us grow as informed citizens and take conscientious decisions. Thus, multiple actions are required for this panorama to improve, like talking to our contacts about the habit of checking the source of news we read or acknowledging the possibility of having been manipulated through persistent exposure to visceral and biased content. Added to this, attending and even organising events in influential spheres such as higher education institutions (e.g., universities and business schools) or local and regional assemblies could throw this matter into the spotlight and start a process of educating ourselves in separating unfunded claims from truth.

Time is up for taking an active role in this problem. Data is the new El Dorado of the 21st century, so why aren’t we doing more to protect its endless value in our hyper-connected world? We’d rather fight now for the European dream than wait to see it turned into a nightmare.

References of scientific studies dealing with the topic raised in the above article:

  1. Shaw I.S. (2012) Human Rights Journalism: A Critical Conceptual Framework. In: Human Rights Journalism. Palgrave Macmillan, London
  2. Azrout, R, van Spanje, J, de Vreese, CH (2012) When news matters: Media effects on public support for European Union enlargement in 21 countries. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 50(5): 691–708.
  3. Conti, N, Memoli, V (2017) How the media make European citizens more Eurosceptical. In: Caiani, M, Guerra, S (eds) Euroscepticism, Democracy and the Media: Communicating Europe, Contesting Europe. Abingdon: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 121–140.
  4. Desmet, P, van Spanje, J, de Vreese, CH (2015) Discussing the democratic deficit: Effects of media and interpersonal communication on satisfaction with democracy in the European Union. International Journal of Communication 9: 3178–3198.
  5. Brosius A., van Elsas E. J., de Vreese C. H. (2019). Trust in the European Union: Effects of the information environment. European Journal of Communication , 34(1), 57–73. doi:10.1177/0267323118810843

Links to websites highlighting the importance of this issue:

  1. https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/thematic-work/media-freedom
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/jun/17/civilliberties.humanrights
  3. https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/02/why-we-need-journalism
  4. https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/09/1019012
  5. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/member-states/single-view/news/investigative_journalism_for_justice_and_human_rights_in_mad/
  6. https://www.ted.com/talks/carole_cadwalladr_facebook_s_role_in_brexit_and_the_threat_to_democracy?language=en
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