“Inventing is your task”

O decano da quase centenária Escola de Jornalismo da Universidade de Columbia (Estados Unidos da América), Nicholas Lemann acaba de reconhecer, num discurso há dias pronunciado perante os estudantes, que a profissão de jornalista mudou “profundamente”, considerando apenas os cinco anos que ele leva de mandato. E uma mudança tão profunda exige repensar os pressupostos e as práticas da profissão. É nesse sentido que fala na necessidade de uma “reinvenção” do jornalismo.

Eis alguns excertos:

“(…) Most of the individual aspects of a traditional newspaper are available on the Internet, for free. Newspapers are still producing great quantities of original information, thanks to the hard work of people like you, but they no longer have local quasi-monopolies as sources of information. Their audiences are now primarily on the Internet—that wasn’t the case just a few years ago. And, even more recently, on the Web the lines between the various originating media have started seriously blurring. On the front pages of newspaper Web sites, you’re starting to find what we would recently have taught as television stories—video and audio presentations a few minutes long. Television sites publish what we teach as newspaper stories—stories made up only of printed words, without images. Magazine sites publish animated cartoons. And so on. The tectonic plates underlying our profession—those traditional categorical divisions by type of news, by news medium, by geography—are palpably, and rapidly, rearranging themselves. (…)

You soon-to-be graduates are a diverse lot. You come from all over the world, work in every news medium, and cover the whole range of complicated subjects–but every one of you is a reporter: You know how to gather information, primarily through in-person interviewing, and to present it accurately, fairly, and engagingly. I would urge you, however, not to take it for granted that the best way to present information is an 800-word, all-text, pyramid-style news story—a method of presentation that grew up in the nineteenth century and dominated our profession for most of the twentieth, but may not in the twenty-first. And, as you’re well advised to be creative about how to present each individual story, the news organizations you work for are going to have to be similarly creative about figuring out, in the aggregate, what package of material they are presenting. It is going to have to be something unobtainable elsewhere—a rich mix of information about a community or a subject that the news organization’s Web site puts together more powerfully and efficiently than anybody else. It is not going to look just like the package of material that populates a newspaper now. Inventing this is your task.(…)”.