Dr Pradeep Mahapatra
A host of factors including rapid digital transformation and gradual deconstruction of advertisement-dependent business model in media platforms together with a long period of economic slowdown beginning in 2008 and New Normal norms in the post-Covid-19 pandemic world order have pushed journalism into a challenging situation. The spread of misinformation and changed behavior of the news consumers have added woes to it. A review of passion for work among journalists by 2022 is considered to be a barometer to assess the future of journalism.
‘Pew Research Centre’ of the United States of America conducts periodical research on various aspects of media. It organized a month-long survey among 12,000 journalists countrywide between February 16 and March 17. The data analysis report was published in June 2022. The main objectives of the research were to measure several critical aspects related to the media workers’ perspectives on freedom of the press, the spread of misinformation, the media’s role in political polarization, and impact of social media.
Answering to questions such as are the journalists covering the most important stories of the day, are reporting the news accurately, justifying their duty as watchdog over elected leaders, giving voice to the under-represented and managing or correcting misinformation, about three-fourth of the journalists took part in the survey answered in a positive tone.
While 75 percent of the journalists were proud of their profession, 70 percent were satisfied with their work and 77 percent were ready to pursue a carrier in journalism. It was learned that 57 percent are concerned about future restrictions on press freedom and 71 percent expressed their displeasure on the spread of misinformation. The survey results revealed that though the journalists express their concern on prevailing trends in journalism, they do not want to quit the profession, but continue as a career.
Most journalists claimed that they have acquired the capacity to distinguish between real and misinformation. However, 26 percent agreed that sometimes they had used misinformation due to their ignorance.
On the issue of reporting false statements made by public figures, while a small portion of about 32 percent tends to decline, a majority of 64 percent do not hesitate. They believe that it is journalist’s duty to communicate all sorts of messages to the public.
Traditionally news platforms tend to offer equal coverage to opposing views by sources. However, while 44 journalists agree with equal treatment, about 55 percent disagree and extend preferential treatment.
The majority of journalists, about 82 percent believe that reporting should be objective, they should not include their own opinions. But in reality, only 55 percent stick to the principle and 34 percent find it difficult to practice all the time.
It is evident from the survey that journalists are aware of the fast-growing trend of loss of public trust in journalism. Only 14 percent of journalists are confident about complete and 44 percent partially on public trust in the prevailing environment. About 42 percent are worried about the loss of trust among the news consumers. On the other hand, a survey result on public trust in journalism among the general public pointed out that 29 percent had complete belief, 27 percent had partial belief and 44 percent disbelieved news platforms.
The research data revealed that journalists working in television platforms are least happy with their profession. Though journalists working in the print media accounted 52 percent, online media 54 percent and radio 48 percent, processional satisfaction among journalists working in television was limited to 34 percent. Moreover, 58 percent of television journalists complained about harassment outside their workplace.
In a rough estimate, seven among ten journalists in the United States agreed to have professional satisfaction. About 27 percent agree to be fully and 43 percent partially satisfied. Only 22 percent recorded dissatisfaction and eight percent had no opinion on the matter.
Professional satisfaction among the journalists ensures secure future for journalism. The statistics collected in the U.S. are more or less applicable to different geographies worldwide. Journalism is a creative faculty. It belongs to the same genre, such as literature, music, dance, theater or sports, practiced by people those have a passion in a particular field. When journalists have a passion for journalism, failure of business models and environmental disruptions does not appear to be a threatening danger to the growth of journalism.
The majority of journalists’ concern for disinformation and support to objective reporting in principle pave the way for quality journalism in the future. Similarly, awareness of the loss of public trust is supposed to encourage journalists to take correctional initiatives in media platforms. The collection of real-time data on journalists’ attributes to their work can contribute to formulating policy decisions on the improvement of various aspects of journalism.
(English translation of the original Odia newsletter circulated by the author on June 24, 2022. https://tinyletter.com/pradeepmahapatra/letters/message-255. It is open-source content, free for translation and reproduction)
Pew Research Centre. U.S. Journalistic turmoil in the news industry amid passion for their work
Dr. Pradeep Mahapatra is a retired faculty of Journalism, Berhampur University, Odisha.