Saving Journalism’s Soul: It’s All Storytelling, You Know

By Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba | February 12 2014

Much has been written about how the field of journalism is being disrupted and threatened by technology. In the digital age, anyone can be a journalist, so the story goes. Technology has brushed aside gatekeepers so the playground is now a free for all, reads the narrative.

Granted, the economic model that sustained traditional journalism is undergoing major disruption but that doesn’t mean there’s no validity in the practice. No matter how technology evolves journalism’s essential core of storytelling still matters. If anything, the soul of journalism remains the same.

“The principles of journalism hasn’t changed; the technology has. The principles of journalism are transparency, fairness, thoroughness, intellectual honesty, and creativity,” said Neil Barsky, a former Wall Street Journal reporter in an interview with

At its core, journalism seeks to paint a picture about a phenomena in the world. What technology has simply done is to add a layer of tools that make it possible to tell the story.

Also, the potential reach of a story in now wider than ever before thereby broadening the circle of conversation around a given story.

Some of the new tools also facilitate greater and instantaneous dissemination. Certainly, the format of presenting journalism has also changed and is largely responsible for the shakeup of the discipline’s traditional business model.

The great question is how do we save the soul of journalism as we frantically look for new business models. It could be that traditional journalism’s over-reliance of advertising was its undoing. As fickle as advertisers are they are abandoning the discipline and looking for newer ways to reach audiences.

For journalism, this could be a blessing in disguise. The discipline can disabuse itself of advertising dollars and undergo a transformation whose singular premise will be doing what it does best: storytelling.

If journalism cannot tell a story, none of all the fancy tools will matter. Put simply, technology as far as journalism is concerned helps to push the boundaries of the discipline as well as its reach. But it does not change the soul which is all about telling high quality, compelling stories.

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