Josep Cuní: «Journalism Should Return to Its Roots»
On Friday, 31 January 2014, the journalist Josep Cuní gave the lecture Mass Media and Free Public Opinion in the UIC main lecture hall. In his lecture, which was organized by the UIC Faculty of Communication Sciences, Cuní discussed the current state of journalism and the debate about social networks and public opinion.
To open the lecture, the journalist discussed his position in the debate about free public opinion in the mass media. “There’s no such thing as free public opinion. It’s impossible. It’s mediated”, he said.
In this regard, Cuní rejected theories claiming that social networks are the new journalism. “There is potential news in a lot of tweets. But a tweet per se isn’t news”, he said. “Nowadays, people think that social networks are news outlets. They may be one day, but they aren’t right now”.
When discussing whether social networks allow for greater freedom of opinion and whether they have managed to replace the top-down flow of information with peer-to-peer communication of information, the journalist was sceptical. “In some cases, social networks are beginning to show levels of self-censorship that exceed the editorial approach of the media itself”, he argued. He said that although social networks appear to be a peer-to-peer means of communication, there is someone behind each piece of information. So communication is essentially still top down.
As for the crisis of news organizations, the debate about the death of journalism after WikiLeaks and the new media paradigm, Cuní said that journalism was now more important than ever. He encouraged students to return to the roots of journalism, to seek out the truth and to be rigorous with information. “The restructuring of journalism involves returning to the roots of deciding what is news and what isn’t. We need to return to the objective method”, he said. “Journalism isn’t a nine-to-five job. It’s a twenty-four hour endeavour to explain not just what happens, but why it happens”, he reminded the students.
Cuní ended his lecture by saying, “Information is every citizen’s right and the government’s obligation”. Afterwards, there was an open question and answer session. Between UIC students, faculty professors and secondary-school students, over 200 people were in attendance.