Original link: How Will Millenials Change the World of Media?
In September 2018, I spent 10 days in Berlin at an annual workshop for Young European Journalists (YEJ) and M100 Sanssoussi Colloquium. The discussions this year very much focused on the performance of journalism in the context of right-wing populism, fake news, and the crisis of legitimacy of the EU. This exchange (later cut short by the editors) is an outcome of my conversation with Orange Magazine that covered the event.
What challenges do you see for journalism in the Social Web?
If journalism is to perform its democratic function – providing people with information and voice – the logic of the social web is indeed a challenge. The flashiness and instantaneity, the echo-chamber mindset, the obsession with keeping the ever-escaping attention of the viewer and reader, all pose risk to this democratic function. My concern is that many in journalism, however concerned they may be with democratic practices, tend accept this logic of the social web to some extent. How many times have those working with the social web have been reminded by their colleagues that their content is not eye-catching enough for ‘the younger audience’? I agree that some adjustment to social media logic is necessary to keep a media project afloat. But what has to be a matter of constant reflection in the media community is how these tendencies in media development can enhance the participatory and empowering potential of media production, not make it even more antagonistic, shallow, mainstream, and profit-driven.
How will the new generation of young media makers change the traditional journalism? What will be their impact in your opinion?
Young media makers are not a homogeneous group, and let’s remind ourselves that representing a different generation is not a guarantee that old patterns won’t be reproduced. Young people, like everyone else, view the world differently depending on their social privilege and cultural background. Let alone the strong impact of education: as an undergrad student of journalism, I remember all too well how keen some senior journalists (many of whom were my teachers) are to pass on the elitist understanding of the journalistic identity. For a 20-year-old, it can be quite seductive to accept this role uncritically, instead of rethinking the role of a journalist in the context of a democratized communication. All of this is to say that as young media makers, you come to this world with its pre-established discourses that can’t be changed overnight.
In this sense, I wouldn’t expect change to come simply because of age. Sure, there are generational differences. That we are more at ease with digital platforms is obvious, but I’m less concerned with technical aspects here and would look at the broader political and cultural shifts instead. We have grown up in the post-9/11, post-financial crisis age: many of us have directly experienced the repercussions of neoliberal and xenophobic policies. At the same time, we have grown up in the world where being gay is no longer the reason for deprivation of basic civil rights (despite the global backlash), and feminism is trending again. Whether or not this makes us more sensitive to social inequalities and hierarchies is an open question, and I’m tempted to speculate that it does. If this is the case, I’d be hopeful that young media makers foster a more advocative kind of journalism which promotes social diversity and horizontal communication, rather than speaks to the traditional homogeneous ‘public’ from the privileged position of a media professional (with its traditional white, male and middle-class image). The technological changes have made it possible for these roles to be transformed, but are in themselves not enough. The tectonic cultural shifts of the past couple of decades, however, can let it happen.