The Evolution of Journalism through the “New Power”

by Sauro on April 27, 2016 - 10:44pm

In the Washington Post article How Journalism is Changing for the Better, published  on September 1st, 2015, Christ Cillizza explains how journalism is evolving through the active participation of the audience by means of social media. The new vision of journalism that is rising would suggest having the readers to be participating directly at the beginning of a story, notably by letting them ask questions that they want answered, instead of involving them only in the comment section. In a sense, this new approach to journalism that is directly connected to Jeremy Heimans’ concept of the “new power” is perhaps a solution to existing problems in regards to how news is shared before this shift in power. 

At the moment, one of the easiest way to communicate ideas, opinions, and information to an issue or an event in the news is through the comment section at the bottom of an article. Even though it is good to be able to be heard in some way, leaving a comment should not be satisfying. As Jennifer Brandel claims, “while comments can be contagious and create more engagement, it’s often in a negative  —  even toxic  —  way. […] Questions are the opposite: positively contagious”. 

Fundamentally, Brandel is asking for a more “audience-involved” type of journalism. As a matter of fact, this change is actually happening. Through the various motors of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, the  information is shared by all, to all, and without any journalists to serve as  “gatekeeper” of the news.

In a sense, journalism is about answering questions and exposing the answers. Therefore, it only makes sense to develop a system in which the people can participate in this process since the questions that are addressed in the news are mostly theirs. Nevertheless, as stated previously, this system is creating itself. Since the information is not filtered, some very useless and irrelevant posts and articles could be found in that system which is a possible downside to this situation. Nonetheless, Cillizza believes that the good sides of this new approach prevailed over the bad ones.

How to deal with this new type of propagation of the news? Simple. A reporter should be aware of almost everything that is relevant to be reported and explained. In other words, they should do what journalists are trying to do by themselves since the beginning of journalism. 

This new vision of journalism is closely linked with what Jeremy Heimans calls the “new power”. Actually, new power fights against the same kind of problems that the old journalism is suffering from such as the monopoly of the news, the institutionalization of a public good, the competitions between journals, and the authority of certain journalists. Essentially, new power is a call to action for “mass participation” and “peer coordination”. By applying this concept to journalism, similarly to what Cillizza and Brandel state, journalism can obtain a predisposition free of institutions and authority, but must importantly, directly powered by the community. 


Read more about Chris Cillizza’s story here:

See Jennifer Brandel’s presentation Questions are the new comments:

See Jeremy Heimans’s TED talk on “new power”: