Business & Industry

Feb 1, 2017


With the motto: "Affirming Journalism", the São Jorge Cinema, one of the most prestigious and oldest in Lisbon, Portugal (opened in February 1950), hosted the "4th Congress of the Portuguese Journalists", last January, where the role of journalists, the competition and the media financing, were discussed.

In addition to the role of journalism, journalists, working conditions, salaries, ethics and professional deontology, several debates took place involving directors and media bosses in the country.

It became clear that journalism today is confronted with two often opposing premises. On the one hand, to affirm its mission of always, to interpret, to inform and to serve the society, readers, listeners, TV viewers and advertisers. On the other hand, to influence public opinion, attract more "customers" and advertising contracts.

The "search for new revenue" has led to a growing spectacularization of journalism in recent years. However, it was concluded that, not only did it characterize the class and the credibility of the contents, but it did not bring the solution in terms of financing the industry. In that sense, the eyes are now focused on new players such as Google and Facebook, as they can place advertising at lower prices. The internet, social networks and mobile devices are emerging, as well as the new platforms that allow you to produce and disseminate content more instantly, but also more ephemeral. The information circulates at a high speed, is constantly updated and it is shared and transformed by the public through comments and opinions. Journalism is more participatory today, however, it turns out that it is not enough to have readers, listeners, audience, you must make them share what they read, hear and come. Therefore, the advertising contracts, so important for the media´s survival, must be governed by these new industry paradigms.

The competition from Google and Social Networks, as well as the poor regulation of the available foreign television channels were also mentioned as compromising of the journalistic work, being necessary to change the legislation that regulates these matters.

"Sustainability" was a consensual theme for media bosses, not only because of the need to find new ways to make the sector profitable, but also to enable quality journalism. According with the president of the Portuguese group "Global Media", «digital will overlap in the short/medium term. It is urgent to have a business model for our companies that is sustainable», said Daniel Proença de Carvalho.

For Francisco Pinto Balsemão, boss of the "Impresa" group, «only a company that can make money is able to carry out expenses, investments and guarantee the contents independence».

In parallel to this new reality, there is a growing interest in publishing, disseminating and reading scientific articles, technology, health and research, while growing disinterest by media sensationalism.

Who has also witnessed this new trend is the "Pulitzer Prize-winning Public Service in 2003", and investigative journalist at the "Boston Globe", Michael Rezendes, who attended the "Congress." According with the American journalist, «the difficulties currently experienced in industry are similar at the global level, they are not exclusively Portuguese. It is still fundamental to have journalists on the street, rather than sitting in newsrooms, and contrary to what is claimed, making investigative journalism is economically viable and makes sense, because investigative articles increase the number of subscribers in the newspaper», he explained, alluding to his personal experience.

For the "Organization", discussions have concluded that «the reduced size of newsrooms, the time for performing the work and the low salaries are some of the aspects that compromise the quality of the information provided to the readers and consequently the profession».

The status of the source, the definition and the role of the journalist will merit greater vigilance of the competent Portuguese entities. A resolution with 12 points was adopted, with no votes against and no abstention. The professionals expect the measures to be applied and that the class can meet more frequently. It is recalled that 18 years have passed since the last "Congress" held in the country. As an example, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is already attending the "29th Congress" and meets every three years to reflect on the profession.

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