Network Society course (IX). Gumersindo Lafuente: Communication in the Network Society (III)

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

Communication in the Network Society
Gumersindo Lafuente, Soitu

Rigour is at stake, but, luckily, and for the first time, the audience can watch and enforce rigour.

Technology, for the first time, shapes and modifies the behaviour of the audience. The new scenario needs to be mastered by the journalist to do their work properly.

Revolution: the digital thing is not a new media, but a disruption, a shift of paradigm, a point of inflexion.

Leadership: In all this (r)evolution, leaders are required. A bad practice is that mainstream offline media are absorbing online departments, thus killing innovation and leadership. Indeed, it could well be the other way. Nowadays, the Net has already become the agora of influence, of fresh news, of flexibility, of freedom (of press), the way to recover the essence and commitment with the readers of the original journalism.

Monopoly: media and journalists have, forever, lost the monopoly of information. And this includes politicians, that have given the “friendly” media the radio or TV spectrum or the required licenses to operate.

We’re no-ones: The main discoveries of the web have neither been made by journalists, nor regarded as good or interesting discoveries. Yet, they are having a present and will have a future impact on journalists, media and journalism at large.

Front page: Front pages are (were) a solution to technological constraints. Now, each piece of news has to be treated as a front cover, as it can perfectly be an entry point depending on a link, a web search, etc.

Personalization: Advertising has already understood it. Journalists still have a long way to cover towards personalization, to offer the audience something personal, personalized surprises.

Link: Not only adding up a URL to a specific word, but finding original content, creating context, relating different things and putting them together.

Opportunity: The benefits overweight the risks, the good uses the criminal uses. Let’s trust and let the opportunity disclose.

Mobility: Ubiquity. Information will know no geographical constraints, neither on origin nor on destiny.


Q: Front pages might not apply but… is there still a sense on having a “home” page? A: The home page acts as a brand. People browse through search engines, feed readers and direct links. The home page can be used to offer the casual reader to offer him something more so that he wants to come back. Internet enables not having a fixed front page, nor a categorized one.

Moisès Panisello: How to share? What models? Anyone can create? A: Depending on your point of view: contents or cost. Regardless of the point of view, it is not the technology — the mere ability to be able to write/publish or take photos or video — what matters, but the know how and expertise of the “artist”. Thus said, while it is true that everyone could do anything (e.g. the journalist write the article and take the photos and edit them and…) it is not that true that they should do everything because it is likely that they will not be the best ones in everything.

Ricard Ruiz de Querol: Have there been great changes in the journalism arena? A: While in the US it has already happened, in Spain there has not yet been a revolution where e.g. a blog has become mainstream and an acknowledged and reputed informer. It is nevertheless true that there is a “rumour” that is producing some “noise”.

Felipe González Gil: should blogs be regulated? A: Blogs should be free. One of their strengths is their chaotic nature, either for good and for bad. The audience will choose what’s relevant and who’s a good reporter, a journalist or a blogger, depending on their own criterion, their own specific needs at a specific time, etc.

Q: Can journalists collaborate in different media and different channels? A: In Spain, in the last years, the policy has been confrontation. Indeed, the strategy was to build a comprehensive media conglomerate (press, TV, radio, publisher, etc.) to avoid collaboration and, even more, to crowd out the channel from enemy media. The Internet should break this and try and find value anywhere, instead of retaining it at all costs, an endeavour difficult to maintain. It is networks of people speaking that makes possible the rise of communities, the spread of viral news, etc.

Fernando Santamaría: How to ensure loyalty of new waves of journalists and audiences, that believe in flexibility, in swapping channels and media? A: There’s room for each and everyone. On one hand, if a medium has rigour and knows how to evidence it, there’s no reason why to think they won’t find a cluster. On the other hand, these new generations will bring with them changes and new perspectives, not only as audience or freelance journalists, but as part of the structures of the firms of the future: again, there is no reason why to think that things are never going to change (or perish).

Enrique Dans: Where’s the advertising red line not to cross? A: Ads should not be intrusive and making it difficult to have a fair user experience. Format and relevance (context) play an important role, more than raw huge amounts of visitors (that might not be relevant to your goals… or you to their needs).


Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2008) “Network Society course (IX). Gumersindo Lafuente: Communication in the Network Society (III)” In ICTlogy, #61, October 2008. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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