Journalists would be more cheerful being DJs

Mark Deuze is a charming person, but his message to journalists is not exactly ego-boosting: don’t take yourself too seriously, he told us during the neo-journalism conference in Brussels, Belgium. Deuze has been an Associate Professor at the Indiana University’s Department of Telecommunications in Bloomington (United States) since 2006. Until 2011 he also held a joint appointment as Professor of Journalism and New Media at Leiden University (The Netherlands).

Not that the journalism-function is unimportant. Throughout history that function was about warning for danger, about who was in charge and what that means, and about societal norms. As the mass-media emerged during the previous century, the need for public executions seemed to diminish – the message about norms and behavior could be spread by those mass-media – I guess they were considered very newish back then – so barbaric stuff such public execution and torture could be abolished.

But it’s not because the journalist functions are important that the very specific group of people who call themselves ‘journalists’ are that important.

In these days of social networks, smartphones and tablets, media and reporting are ubiquitous. Deuze is not inclined to judge about the quality of all that reporting.

The media artifacts and activities seem to disappear, at least we are no longer very actively aware of those tools – we live in media like fish in water. In that ocean of content journalists should no longer focus exclusively on the creation of new content – because it amounts to no more than to tiny blips.

The message was probably not very rejoicing for the many journalism-students in the audience. Talking about audience, Deuze remarked that ‘the audience no longer behaves like an audience’ (except for conferences, where the old formats are still very much in use).

Deuze observes that journalists don’t seem very cheerful these days. Showing an image of DJ Tiësto, he had an urgent suggestion: journalists should consider themselves as great DJs – being experts in the stuff and sources they collect and mix together.

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