The German newspaper TAZ writes on how Italian journalism “is only there to fill the gaps between advertisements“. How bad is the situation of journalism nowadays?
The fact that nowadays journalists cannot survive on their wages – a problem present not only in Italy – is not the only issue newspapers encounter.
Freedom of press is a given fact in the western world, one may think. Reality looks a bit different. Coming back to the Italian example, in the 2010 report of the Freedom House, Italy is ranked only as partly free. Just like Argentina, Brazil, Peru, many more South American countries and most of the Balkan countries in Europe. Nevertheless, they still rank better than more than half of the African countries (only Mali, Ghana and Sao Tome & Principe are supposed to have a free press on the African continent). Like most of what is Middle East and Asia.
Another problem the media are encountering is that nowadays nobody seems to be ready to pay for what good journalism would be. We want our news online for free or in a short, entertaining form as free newspapers (I am not even going to mention the waste these commuter-newspapers create). This basically kills any quality left within journalism. Let’s see if those corageous newspapers (the latest ones to introduce paywall: NYT, Telegraph, The Australian) succeed in breaking that downspiral.
How can the press account for its – in western eyes – role as whistleblower or Fourth Estate? How can it serve democracy and the open society?
If you are interested in the topic, please visit the European Journalism Observatory.