Journalism in a rapidly changing world, by Bernice Eke

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American Press Institute defines journalism as the activity of gathering, assessing, creating and presenting news and information. It can also be defined as the production of reports on current events based on facts and supported with proof or evidence.

Journalism comes from the word ‘journal’ which evolved from a Latin word called ‘diurnalis’, meaning belonging to a day.

In the middle ages of Europe (5th – 15th century AD), journals were books which listed the times of daily prayers to be sung during the course of the day, week or month.

In the 17th century, ‘journal’ came to mean a personal diary, where one wrote the proceedings, dealings with people or events which happened every day.

The meaning of journal changed in the next century. It started to mean ‘daily newspaper’ when the printing press was invented and became a medium to impart written communication. Since then, journalism has been evolving.

Today’s journalism is a far cry from what it used to be. It is no longer like before where you have to wait every morning to receive news and information from your local newspaper or wait for the evening broadcast if you missed that of the morning.

Relying on only one source to get all of your news and information these days is totally unheard of. Now information is at everybody’s fingertips, minute by minute and across different formats, devices and technologies.

The advent of social media has made it possible for anyone using a smartphone to break a news story if they were in the right place at the right time. Social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and others have become the main source of news online.

In today’s world, anyone with time and gadgets can become his or her own media channel. Your news source is almost a living breathing thing. It is always changing and continuously being developed. That story you just read could be edited and revised several times over.

There is information everywhere that people can consume anytime they want. They don’t need to go to the store to buy a book or a newspaper anymore. All they need to do is to reach for their phones and enter a quick Google search and they will discover a wealth of knowledge on any subject matter.

Take, for instance, the #EndSARS protest that happened in October last year. Social media broadcasted it, which made it go global that the world could see.

Social media have also increased the rate of fake news that one needs to be careful and verify every news or information before disseminating it to others.

Information overload and a general lack of understanding about how the Internet works by people have also contributed to the rise in fake news. Social media sites can play a big part in increasing the reach of these types of stories.

In today’s news environment, more than ever before, journalists need to practice the art of fact-checking, which has become more difficult to handle in the era of fake news.

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