Journalism had proclaimed the year of 2017 as the year of ‘fake news’, as the ominous quote, “Democracy dies in darkness” became its newspaper slogan. It was also marked by society becoming interested again in the mainstream media outlets, as there was a significant increase in subscriptions and page views. Donald Trump’s “covfefe” became the major news story (something which is mainly occupied by serious news).
Interested in knowing about how Journalism was in 2018, Jonathan Kaufman and John Wihbey were asked about the news scenario of last year. These two are professors at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism. They believe ‘fake news’ is not fading from Journalism for the time being. “I think the term is going to be with us for a long time,” said Kaufman. “Trump and other conservatives use it to attack anything they don’t like and it’s something reporters will have to live with.”
Wihbey agreed with Kaufmann and said, “the Trump critique is extremely powerful among some segments of the population.” However, he blamed the reporters for the audience not getting their stories straight. “Before they go public,” he said, “They need to make sure their scoops are bulletproof.”
Wihbey and Kaufman think that machine learning tools are now a part and parcel of unearthing groundbreaking discoveries, and 2018 was shaped by it. The Washington Post, The Associated Press, and USA Today were already using AI and machine learning tools for their reports and videos. It gives reporters free time so that they can work on other pressing assignments. Other media outlets were also experimenting with such machine learning tools in their functioning. “Machine learning can help humans make significant insights that could change the world,” Wihbey said, “But we need to train more people to do this kind of augmented journalism.”
Wihbey said that the news agenda in 2018 was also marked by the increased usage of social media platforms, especially Twitter. He says that the #MeToo movement was a vital example of such news outlets. “Social media will play a gigantic role in terms of setting the news agenda,” Wihbey explained, “And the news media will have the important role of tipping nascent information from particular communities into public visibility.”
According to Kaufman, “The No. 1 source of news for my students is Snapchat. As platforms like these become more influential, news organisations will need to respond to users’ expectations.”