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Modern journalism

Modern journalism is the one that has adapted to the new habits of readers: tight deadlines and zapping between sources of information.

The old journalists could write counting on the lack of competition: from printed newspapers to TV, practically no one inquired about more than one source. So you could also be a bit 'scoundrels and a bit' sold (from corporate gifts to condescending to the editor and important friends), without losing readers.

Then, since 1995, the barriers that artificially held readers back quickly crumbled, and in a few years, the situation changed as it had never happened in the first 200 years of journalism.

Thus the times and places of journalistic information have changed, and zapping has passed from the TV remote control to the PC mouse. This means that today we need to give short information and in a short time, knowing that readers have more interesting titles and texts just a click away.

The opposite of modern journalism is scholastic, trendy, or literary-influenced journalism.

This type of writing is still very present in printed newspapers, on many websites, and on blogs, mainly for three reasons:

1) It is still the subject of school teaching (introduction + development + conclusion);

2) The research and verification of facts costs time and work, while comments, descriptions, emotions, memories, and arguments are easily made and are often more rewarding for the author;

3) Journalism based on facts offers little space for specious information, which is the one that pays and repays, on the issues that matter;

4) For many people having an opinion and expressing it may seem more important than knowledge of data and facts.

Here is an example of modern journalism, in contrast to scholastic-literary journalism.

They are two incipits taken from the same number of the Espresso.

A) Incipit topical article in a modern style

Quick, inexpensive: The legal procedure that cancels the marriage called annulment. The numbers speak for themselves. According to the estimates of marriage lawyers, out of 163,000 unions with concordat, in 2009, there were 8,400 requests for nullity, 5,800 of which were successful as compared to 50,000 "state" divorces.

B) Incipit topical article in literary style

Steel nails sink into the ground and tear tons of clods. The howl of the bulldozers is deafening. They began to devastate the countryside at dawn. The machines advance against the walls of earth and stones. The first terrace collapses. The trucks filled with tons of stones still damp with grass and moss. The tracks crush daisies and daffodils grown on the edge of the vineyards. It took the sharecroppers centuries to grow the vines on the right back of this hill. Fatigue, sweat, and sacrifice to move thousands of white stones.

The first article can be found in various media. The other does not. And as well written as it is, as a reader, I don't understand what and where the fact happens before I get to the middle of the page. It is a topical and denouncing article, but I have to mentally arrange myself as if it were a novel.

We can also give it a modern name:  infotainment. But the matrix is ​​a century old.

The first article begins with the heart of the news during the second with an introduction. They are two different and incompatible schemes, which should be used with mastery in the right context.

History of Modern Journalism

In 1833 the "in New York introduces a novelty that will change the history of journalism; the newspaper no longer sells for 6 pence but for a penny, and no longer as it was until then, mainly by subscription, but also on the streets.

Here too it must be understood; experiences of low-priced popular media outlets focusing primarily on advertising and dissemination also occurred earlier in Europe, both in Great Britain and in France, but neither achieved success nor achieved the results of the penny press revolution in America; and this above all because of the different size of the markets and because the United States was going through the greatest phase of political, economic, territorial, demographic expansion in its history.

The penny press takes us to the heart of modern journalism.

Its consequences deeply affect the quality of writing and all the characteristics of the journalistic profession.


1. The public becomes "the whole public" because it is the first newspaper within anyone's reach;

- The audience or user is the term of reference for the writing: each newspaper writes for the audience it has chosen. This means knowing your audience, knowing their vocabulary, their tastes, and their potential to appropriate the news. Two theories are opposed in this regard: that of the target and that of the audience: according to the first, the newspaper chooses to address a certain predetermined audience, and its success depends on the ability to reach it; the second requires that the newspaper try to obtain the maximum possible circulation. In the first case, the focus is on quality and in the second on quantity.

- The user must be identified as a typical user (perhaps also giving him a name and a surname)

- The reference is the marginal user, that is the person who buys the newspaper that day “because there is the article I am writing”;

- The user is also the interlocutor of the feed-back activated by the news: who writes for a newspaper cannot write for himself like any other writer; he writes because his piece has to be read or heard or seen by a number of people within a very short period of time, after which the piece is dead.

2. This means that the political independence of the newspaper is based on its economic independence and this on that, because a politically oriented audience cannot be pre-established.

3. Hence the figure of the modern journalist, who will be sanctified by Hollywood cinema; the controller of powers and the civil defender; the journalist becomes a seeker of truth, and his credibility depends on his ability to tell true stories and to discover news;

4. Paid advertising was introduced; which of course had always existed, but becomes the object of specific entrepreneurship;

The modern concept of news was introduced (according to a paradoxical but significant definition: “something that someone wants to hide”), which means that the newspaper and the journalist become the mediators between events and the public. In fact, the news is potentially any event that can be told and represented in such a way as to interest any public.

5. With the birth of the modern concept of news, the modern concept of writing news was introduced. It arises from the objective needs of the new entrepreneurial reality imposed. It is one thing to sell a newspaper on the street to anyone, another to send the newspaper home by subscription to anyone who asks for it; it is another to capture any audience with curiosity and sensation, another to serve the useful information requested at home. 

Journalism in modern times

From mimics, screams, cave paintings, hieroglyphs, to manuscripts, are some of the examples that show that communication exists since our ancestors as a means to express different feelings, needs, and their records in history, an evolutionary process that shares information.

The panorama is not very different from the practice of journalism, and since its rise in the seventeenth century with the newspapers, it has had a series of changes and adaptations as technological advances such as television, radio and now the internet expands.

A large part of the population owns a smartphone, which displaces the traditional way of communication, which implies new journalistic changes when it comes to disseminating information.

The different applications for cell phones, emails, and social networks are the key to modern journalism that stands out for the immediacy of carrying short news, breaking news, or in real-time, but how different is this type of journalism from the habitual?

For the journalist and lawyer of the Ministry of Public Security and director of the Public Relations and Journalism careers at the Autonomous University of Central America (UACA), Carlos Hidalgo Flores, this type of journalism that relies on the internet does not pay attention to the profession while respecting the basic principles such as balance in information (fairness).

"Journalism remains one. What exists today is a modern trend to the exercise of journalism that implies using cyberspace to investigate, produce and, above all, disseminate journalistic content," said Hidalgo.

In our society, cyberspace obtains a very important impact on the modern trend since it is used to generate national and international content; it encourages information traffic that circulates quickly and reaches the public immediately.

However, some journalists or the media fall into the sin - or the seduction of digital spaces - in publishing news without being verified, which lacks informative value and journalistic ethics. 

According to the journalists, what can differentiate the new journalism from the traditional one is that the era of digitization allows the public to search for the desired information and publish what they want with freedom.

"You must choose among all the tools the best to communicate what we want. It is important that we note that all these tools also sub-segment the public and give important decision-making power to each one of consuming what they want in terms of informative material.

The decline in modern journalism

There are those who are not completely satisfied with the advances in technology and rather consider that journalism is submerged in an abyss of immediacy and sales rather than professionalism and credibility.

The journalists and writers consider that, despite the fact that the new cybernetic media are agile, "they also have the lightness, mistrust, and volatility of their support and therefore contribute to pulverize culture and also brains.

The Internet has come to increase the speed and ease of communication, especially among those who are far away, but not its depth and, on the contrary, it is completely invaded by all ignorant people who have a cell phone that gives an idea of ​​the irresponsible content that circulates on the networks.

The new generations and some media are more concerned with publishing their news first and selling their news before the professionalism of a communicator.

The greatest challenge with the emergence of modern journalism is objectivity, since "with digitization, there has been a lot the effect of misinformation or distortion of the facts. In addition, the news is not told with clarity or professionalism.

While it is true, technology and the internet are here to stay, and their advances do not stop. Being modern tools for disseminating information, it is on the riseModern journalism, but it depends on how much communication professionals and the general public want to promote communications of the quality that journalism defines.

Author: Vicki Lezama

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