Journalists are writers, writing provides meaning

The fifth meaning of the Oxford dictionary about the word write says: “to put information in the appropriate places on a form.”

Over the last three months or so, the course Emerging Technologies, which is part of the Ontario Graduate Certificate of Journalism in Humber College, has been showing how there are different ways of writing, but in the end journalists are writers, because they (we) put information, and they do it put it in the appropriate places through thinking.

Social media may help you to reach “the appropriate places,” but at the end technologies can only emulate our process of thinking, as we have seen when covering AI innovations, or in these days with the echo of ChatGPT. The selection, editing and writing of a story, independently of the final format (written, video, audio) is is what makes it compelling, important.

Writing is not just “to make letters or numbers in a surface,” which is the first meanings.

The roots are the same, although we must know the tools (websites, newsletters, social media, Artificial Intelligence, etc.) in order to make the most of it.

Internet seemed to promise, at its earliest days, some kind of paradise where you could express freely, do everything from scratch and triumph even if nobody knew who you were.

This Internet mythology seems to be present in our days, with the figures of influencers and start-ups, but the biggest winners are not writers, they’re technology companies.

By trying to get our attention, they seem to be putting in our hands the necessary tools for success, for achieving a big audience.

That’s the paradise of journalists. If you write for nobody it’s like if you write nothing.

But these companies must show their accounting and several reports at the end of each quarter. They must be profitable, and after that they can pretend to search for a better world.

We, as journalists, must look for the truth and then try to be profitable.

Trying to be profitable, to have an audience, without previous truth through the process of writing is what politics are calling communication. It includes lots of tricks and procedures to convince the people of your story, even when you have no story.

Technologies are bringing us a tool to reach a bigger, or at least different audience. Writing to provide our best knowledge to our audience may lead us closer to the truth.

I remember a very insightful interview I had with Indian filmmaker Vinay Shukla during TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) 2022.

He had directed the documentary While we watched about Indian journalist Ravish Kumar, who is suffering harassment and receiving all kind of threats (mainly by e-mail or social media) because he’s usually critic with the government’s labour.

We were talking about journalism and the search of the truth. He, as filmmaker, wondered if we ever get to know the truth. “At least we know what it isn’t,” I told him, and he agreed and like this sentence that had come to me like a revelation.

This website won’t be the truth. We won’t find the truth tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.

But technologies may helps us. Sure they may help us.

At least, as long as we pilot them. Even spaceships need a captain (be it Kirk or Han Solo).

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