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Modern journalism: Back to the past, reviewing the present and walking to the future

Actualizado: 19 feb

The journalist’s role changed more and faster in our decade than ever before. In this article, we will review the role of journalists in a digital world from the past until the future.


Many movies in Hollywood showed us the traditional journalist’s role. In the classic movie (2002), Spiderman is a photographed journalist dedicated to capturing important moments. We can also see the editor and the writers with a specific role or task.

Communication advancements have revolutionized the field of journalism, as journalists and reporters worldwide operate in ways almost unrecognizable from the profession of a century ago.

The internet revolutionized the way that we receive and send information. We have many platforms showing us content like no other time in the history of the world. The unique characteristic that new technology brings us is speed. Every second is important and different, changing the journalist's role in all senses. As the 21st century marches on, different types of journalists and media outlets will continue to evolve in response to the new “baby” of communication: digital journalism.

In the 19th century, the career as a full-time and independent journalist emerged with the figure of Benjamin Franklin, a famous newspaper printer. At the same time the media developed in the United States, starting with radio and newspapers in the first half-century, before television’s kingdom in the 1950s. In Latin America, this process would be delayed for a couple of decades.

Gradually, the countries were sheltering in their homes, as an integral part of their family’s culture, a door into the world as close as their living rooms. The traditional ideal of journalism was for reporters to serve as independent sources, attempting to deliver the news in a fact-based, objective manner.

Today, our tv not only has channels, but also, count streaming with all our favorite programs at the time that we want. The effort to offer everything “now” and the increased access to technology has led to the proliferation of citizen and activist journalists who openly have a bias or point of view toward a multitasking role. They work in producing, editing and reporting content. Modern journalists need a few indispensable tools to get the job done today; they don't just need paper and pencil as before; they need a computer, video conferencing software, smartphones and social media data tracking, and be knowledgeable of graphic and visualization data programs.

As we see, the multimedia or digital journalist, this hybrid type of professional that emerged with the hand of technology, needs to know every step of content production. They are now knowledgeable on everything but experts in nothing. Just one century ago, the production of an article required 3 or 4 people to finish. Today a blogger makes everything by himself. The cost of speed is now reflected in less content quality and grammar mistakes.

How to find a unique personality in a world where everyone is saying something?”

Nevertheless, another significant development was the proliferation of different media and distinct voices. Everyone can tell their own story. The opportunity to be known around the globe is accurate and accessible. We have cable channels, internet sites, and social media feeds. Millions of people are telling their news in their public feeds to their friends and family as “influencers”.

We are all connected. This change has good news for new generations of journalists: you can work as a self-employed and be your own boss. But also bring them new and important challenges: How to find a unique personality in a world where everyone is saying something?

The future tasks for journalists: What is the following tool we need to have?

Experts talk about Data Journalism, again a path that new technology has created, which turns the journalist into a detective searching for an answer in a sea of ​​data that has not been translated into information. That seems to be the future of our career. Numbers and calculations, far from our traditional idea of reporters, will be part of our study next to programming.

The role of a journalist is one of the most changed in the last decade. It also reveals to us the importance of communication and the necessity to reinvent our role to serve our communities and to tell the stories that will impact our world.

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