The writing is (not) on the wall for the journalism industry

Senior journalist: social media and journalism should be separate entities.

Marla Sommer

Senior journalist: social media and journalism should be separate entities.

Fake news and press freedom are major issues facing the journalism industry but leading journalists remain optimistic.

UNESCO Chair in Journalism and Communication Peter Greste said it would be difficult to find journalists who produce news that is fake suggesting we must keep journalism and social media separate.

“We need to figure out a way of branding and owning news, of reclaiming news for journalists and news organisations,” Professor Greste said.

Professor Greste added that journalism relies on integrity and professionalism, which, means raising ethical standards.

“I think there is an argument to say that we can set up a system of certification…for journalists that are acknowledged by their peers in the industry as legitimate, professional journalists who are working to the highest ethical standards,” he said.

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer report found that 74 per cent of Australians worry about fake news being used as a weapon.

Melbourne Bureau Chief at Bloomberg, Dr Rebecca Jones, said that a verified source must be critically examined and undergo consultation with different journalists.

“That’s always a constant challenge in our newsroom, to make sure journalists are questioning everything and just being super paranoid all the time ,” she said.

“Our industry is actually not one in decline…news is an industry in transition, it’s re-emerging,” Dr Jones said remaining optimistic.

Professor Greste, who spent 400 days in an Egyptian prison for reporting, advocates for press freedom. His organisation the Alliance for Journalist’ Freedom recommends that a Media Freedom Act should be passed.

“It would be a generalised piece of legislation that would say that at any time the courts are considering a case that involves the media they have to take press freedom into account,” he said.

While there are rough times ahead, “we always will need storytellers, journalists in some form”, Professor Greste said.