“When the journalism campaign does not problematize the real”

One could expect to speak about the numerous technological transformations that journalism has undergone over the last two centuries. In the open class of Specialized Journalism that he led at the University of Minho, on April 23, Elias Machado focused, however, on the broader meanings that the concept of innovation can suggest.

Refusing an exclusively technological connotation, the professor of the Federal University of Santa Catarina (Brazil) understands that it is necessary to extend the concept of innovation. To undergraduate and graduate students in Communication Sciences, he recalled that journalism itself is an innovation of journalism, as the news was a journalistic innovation of the late nineteenth century since up to that time the newspaper had been made mostly of more genres literary works.

If the organization of newsrooms, the creation of news organizations, journalism schools and news agencies, the formalization of the correspondent figure and the idea of ​​objectivity are innovations that are linked to the professionalization process of journalism, today it is in social networks that the innovation. It is there, according to Elias Machado, that other signs of renewal are manifested, which are no more, in the perspective of the Brazilian investigator, than attempts by journalism to survive. In a history of innovations, adaptations, genres and procedures, journalism extends to new modalities that are expressed in the so-called “precision journalism”, “public journalism”, “citizen journalism”, “alternative journalism” or “Popular journalism”.

According to Elias Machado, “the whole history of journalism is a history of innovation”, but “the bad news is that today journalism is no longer what structures the public sphere.” It is social networks and communication oligopolies that today dominate information flows, because if journalism as an institution is delegitimized, “it is understandable that other institutions that guarantee vigilance appear.”

One of the dangers that today represents the crisis of journalism is, therefore, the hegemony of what it identifies as “campaign journalism.” According to the professor from Florianópolis, “the standardized themes of journalism are well the symptom of the fact that journalism is currently being done with political agendas.” And the business model of journalism is “increasingly to promote campaigns”. It is in this new cultural form, which can even yield to the publication of false information, that for Elias Machado, journalism loses its original function of questioning reality.

Text by Madalena Oliveira