Roger Palà. Media. Mediacat and the Yearbook of the media silences.
Media are suffering a crisis of legitimacy as important as parties’. Indeed, media are reproducing all the bad practices that other powers are. How can we re-legitimze media? How can we return media to their role as watchdogs and not as part of the power? This crisis of legitimacy has been running for at least 15 years. If they have emerged now is due to two main reasons: (1) the financial and economic crisis that have deepened the crisis of journalism, as they lack more now resources and (2) the emergence of social networking sites.
There has been an important devaluation of contents due to lack of resources but also due to accommodation of the professional. This has ended up with bad practices like do not checking the sources, lack of self-criticism, etc. But changing the system from within (i.e. Association of Journalists) is very difficult, so the Grup Barnils opted for initiating some activities “in the margins”. With Media.cat a project was created to point at bad practices in journalism, creating reports on the state of the question of media, etc. The flagship project is the Yearbook of the media silences.
But the point (of the yearbook and in general) is not a general criticism against media, but raising awareness on the crisis of the sector, the reasons for the crisis and the ways to try to fix it. The approach, in fact, is rather constructive and awards the good practitioners more than condemning the bad practitioners.
The Yearbook has had increasing success and one of the reasons is twofold. On the one hand, because it has raised a lot of awareness on the issue and, on the other hand, because it has relied on the citizens to back the project, through crowdfunding initiatives but not only, as citizens have spread the word about the whole process and not only about the final outcome.
The con side of the initiative is that it is a one-time-a-year thing, not very fairly paid and with difficulties of sustainability.
The good thing is that despite being a very small collective, an impact has been made, especially in the field of media.
Q: is it true that social networking sites make it more difficult to hide things? Roger Palà: absolutely. A good thing of social networking sites is that they break the monopoly of the agenda-setting.
Arnau Monterde: what is the future of media? is it possible a network-based model? will we see for long the traditional model of mass-media? linking the economic crisis with the crisis of media, is it legitimate? Roger Palà: it is absolutely true that money enables professionalism and professionalism usually enables quality content. This does not mean that media have to be big: we are witnessing the emergence of small initiatives that, despite being small, they are 100% professional and are looking for new niches and new ways of working. We will surely see a new cosmos of few big media and a constellation of small media living together.
Q: isn’t there room for citizen journalism? Roger Palà: yes, sure, but the problem is sustainability in the long run. Is it possible to sustain quality and engagement and professionalism without a comfortable economic position? Maybe, but stability helps a lot in sustainability.