Journalism’s dilemma in the Digital Age

By Eddy Suprapto
Contributor AsiaN

JAKARTA: The world is moving rapidly leaving time and technology included in the world of media. Since the discovery of printing press in 1450 by Johanner Genfleish zur Laden zum Gutenberg, the printing world has been coloring the media. The Gutenberg press has become a mainstay of media worldwide.

Technology has been moving forward faster and the marriage between satellite and internet in the 21st century has changed the world. Now, in the 21st century, communication management and communication production are changing. Without realizing it, the internet has changed the way the media industry looks and acts. The presence of converged media has broken down the barriers of print journalism, television and radio. Converged media offers multiplatform journalism, blending text, images, sound and audiovisual.

The Internet has brought progress in various aspects of human life, politics, economy and social life. In political life, the internet has become a significant means of communication and political mobilization. In fact, in some countries, state leaders control power and take public policies via Twitter. In the field of economics, the movement of the capital market and money market can be accessed by a stockbroker or financial trader for 24 hours. In social life, it has become a means of communication between families, groups and professions between countries.

Technology Opium

Jaron Zepel Lanier is an information and communications academic from Harvard University, MIT research laboratory, as well as a writing genius in the field of virtual reality, computer scientist, visual artist, and contemporary classical music composer. His role is highly recognized by the world as an early developer of virtual reality technology. Improvement aims to maintain consumer loyalty. However, it becomes paradoxical when sophistication aims to intensify the birth of addiction from users, the mechanism, the production of dependence which stimulates the production of brain chemicals, and leads to an addictive pleasure. The experience of many people, the emergence of addictive pleasure come from comments, likes, reposts, retweets, increasing the number of followers, subscribers, the birth of trending topics and the rush of traffic, due to uploads and others.

This deluge of scrumptious brain chemistry also stems from engaging in topics that other people develop, until not infrequently, someone provides their seemingly limitless time to fight, defend and fend off an opinion, to create groups of lovers and haters, on a topic.

Journalist at a crossroads

The presence of digital technology has shifted the role of journalists in reporting. The community is able to produce content, news and broadcast it via free channels, mainly YouTube. The advancement of digital technology has made everyone a journalist, ND everyone can produce content. The presence of robotic technology on the internet further weakens the position of journalists. The role of journalists in producing is fenced off with signs for the journalist’s code of ethics, which is destroyed by digital content produced by the general public.

Not only is the position of journalists getting weaker but also the mainstream media companies are getting weaker. The portion of advertising that is usually spent on mainstream media is now being spent on buzzers and influencers. Some national leaders spend more money on advertising on buzzers and influencers.

The problem is there is “impression” and “impact”. Impressions because money for promotional funds or campaigns issued by the government or companies is less than advertising in the mainstream mass media, can be measured and calculated with a quantified model in the form of the number of people (users) who access, view influencer content on social media .

It has an impact, because the message quickly reaches the audience, to the audience of social media users through the weapon of virality, so that the change in attitude, behavior or paradigm expected by the government is achieved.

Influencers submit their content in the form of text, audio or video on their behalf (byline), not a pseudonym or fake account. Why, because that’s where the strength lies. Influencers are already in-laws and have followers and the message they convey will affect their contacts. Influencers are definitely getting paid.

Buzzers usually hide their identities, if necessary, and use fake accounts while influencers are open. Every social media user can be a buzzer, but not necessarily an influencer. Buzzers may or may not be paid, but influencers are paid. There are various kinds of buzzers; There is a specific product buzzer, a specific people buzzer, a personality buzzer, an ideology buzzer.

Now count the impression if the government posts a full page in a magazine or newspaper. How many readers have read government advertisements which of course must be limited to “fire fences” and labeled “advertorial”, “sponsor” or “advertisement”. Readers will definitely ignore and not read advertisements that are published in magazines.

It is a fact that the power of influencers exists. Their content does not need to be labeled or provided with an advertorial firewall, sponsorship or advertising. They use a sophisticated advertising method called “native ads”. Influencers just need to tell stories as if it was their own experience, they don’t even need to mention the advertiser’s client. There’s no need to “hard interchange” by mentioning trademarks let alone the price of goods. This fact is the homework of the mainstream media; keep up with the sophistication of the influencers’ native ads.

The real problem facing the mainstream media is the fire fence separating news content and advertising content. Due to ethics, he must not mix advertising with news, even opinion is forbidden. Unfortunately, readers are rarely tempted to read a report article if it is labeled “advertorial”.

Maintaining Democracy

So intense are the buzzers and influencers that the mainstream media is increasingly under pressure. Even when the mainstream media implemented a fact-checking mechanism to validate the truth of a story, it was met with massive resistance.

A journalist in Indonesia, experienced doxing or disseminating personal information in cyberspace, because he wrote a fact check article related to a politician in Indonesia who was accused of having links to the Communist party. When a fact check was carried out, it turned out that the politicians had never had anything to do with the communist party. However, the doxing perpetrators published the victim’s personal data such as photos, home addresses, telephone numbers, and family identities. The perpetrators also created a narrative that invites people to commit acts of violence against the victim.

We have seen recently how provocative issues, fake news (hoax), and various other negative content spread, are consumed by the public, so that they often create conflicts, even conflicts that are widespread in society. Not a few provocative media have emerged with the mission of certain groups, or media that only spread sensations with bombastic titles to simply attract the attention of readers and gain profits from there. Finally, when an issue is reported unequally, it provokes the community to judge certain individuals, groups or parties. As a result, society is dragged into a flow of unhealthy perspectives, into hot dark puddles, full of prejudice and hatred of others, and often leads to conflicts, even violence and division.

In this digital era, the position of journalists and media companies is increasingly under pressure. The main problem is no longer the application of self-regulation in the media body but the resistance from the people who want unlimited freedom. The fate of journalists and mainstream media is in critical condition.

It is necessary to apply a clear legal umbrella against buzzers or influencers so as not to destroy the democratic process. In the meantime, a new direction is needed to find media business models in today’s digital era.

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