Journalists have an essential role in the new media landscape as a pillar of credible and contextualized information. Being in competition with several alternatives, non-professional or even deliberately manipulated news, professional journalism should be empowered by new competencies and skills. Among the opportunities enabled by digital technologies, processing, analysing and visualizing big amounts of data as well as the multi-sectoral and digital cross-border co-operations open new fields of journalistic activities, and new ways to speak about public issues. However, this environment also entails technical and economic risks, and it demands expertise in IT security as well as the development of business models and strategies from journalists and media companies. Journalists face several ethical challenges that should be handled to meet their social responsibilities. Fake news and hate speech have become a big issue in the public sphere, and so have whistleblowing and activism.
By improving skills of a new generation of European journalists, NEWSREEL will contribute to the strengthening of the common European democratic public sphere by improving the collaborative and cross-border journalism that is able to elaborate and make tangible the huge amount of available data, and that is based on a predictable business strategy and a firm ethical foundation.
The project will focus on 4 professional fields:
Computer-assisted reporting (data journalism), data visualization: The purpose of this field is to help journalists reporting more credible stories, based on the more precise information. Putting data in a visual form may reveal patterns and insights that weren’t identifiable otherwise. In this way, the audience can better understand complex issues.
New business strategies and models of journalism: The technological and economic development brought significant risks for journalism as well. By the weakening of the traditional forms of monetization of media products and services, the stable financial sustainability of high-quality journalism has been endangered; the weaker the media market of a country is, the higher the risk for journalism’s financial problems, especially quality journalism.
Collaborative journalism: We use this term in different but connecting meanings. It covers teamwork, cross-border and multi-sectoral collaboration. Transnational team-working is a key element. European cross-border investigations can improve the transparency of the European social political and economic decision making and the expenses of the European public money, but also transnational private business conduct and even transnational criminal activities. Transnational journalism is in the position to highlight best practices in handling the free circulation of goods and services, capital and people (be workers, students or tourists). The increasing complexity of journalism projects makes necessary the cooperation between experts of several fields, such as journalists, data journalists, IT experts and designers.
Ethical challenges of the digital public sphere: The social responsibility of journalists in the digital public sphere is greater than ever. They still should provide credible information on the public issues, but they have to compete with a mass of non-professional, often inaccurate information. Digital technologies enable whistle-blowers to deliver sensitive information to journalists, without disclosing their identity. Journalists face day to day aggressive communication against particular social groups, political decisions but also their own performance. Journalists become easily activists, turning away from the positions of observer and reporter, traditionally devised for this professional activity.