A footnote on technology and journalism

I’VE read somewhere that digital advances in journalism will lead us to greater transparency, contributing — as academics would say — to a more truthful discourse in society; and that we have to thank social media tools for that.

For example, look at how some news stories first came out as Facebook updates or as tweets. Recently, when Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago accidentally fell off the stage in a speaking engagement in Turkey (was it ala MIRIAM Quiambao? I’m unsure), her tweet about the sad fall became the primary source. The news unfolded in real time on my Twitter timeline. And Miriam’s tweet was publicly accessible, so news about the event already came as nearly insignificant.

Now gone, somehow, is the instance when it is impossible for readers immediately to verify the supposed truth of some reports. If the news is about a public person — preferably tech-savvy — you can now go straight to that person’s Twitter account to check his or her recent whereabouts (e.g. “Eating Buffalo wings. Yum!”). Instant primary source! No need for mediators.

And as regards online reading experience, Google Labs’ new guinea pig, Google Fast Flip, also has promise. With it, one no longer has to wait for 10 seconds or more (because of slow loading) in order to scan a news webpage…

Now all this is very, very commendable.

But it is good to remember that the value of media as an industry is not so much the media it uses as it is the integrity of the content it produces. We can each have iPads (or its likes) in the privacy of the john, reading the day’s “papers.” But if the papers’ contents are still not ethical or truthful, still we would rather flip through newsprint broadsheets that are.

Thus, amidst all these technological progress, going back to the basics of truth-telling and pursuing the good of each person should still possess supreme value in the practice of journalism. As a media consumer, I deserve nothing less than the true and the good, which are beautiful and the same.

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