Journalism is in crisis, media are disappearing, the future of the profession is pessimistic… or at least that is what we believe if we pay attention to the latest predictions and reports about the sector. But if we pay attention to the facts, we’ll realize how journalism is not only not dead but maybe more alive than ever, and that the opportunities for new projects, proposals and approaches has never been better.
It is undeniable that the media sector is being transformed, but it is the traditional media business model that is proving outdated, not the profession. Good professionals will always find the way of doing their job, and the help of the audience, readers and viewers is now more important than ever, and it is also more easy to get than ever before.
In Spain, while the financial state of the big media conglomerates is worsening every year, the number of new independent, self-financed projects is increasing.
I want to share three very recent examples of initiatives that, in spite of being quite different in their genres, topics and approaches, share a number of common attributes that, in my opinion, make them an example of what is the future of media:
- They believe in what they do
- They have respect for their work and for their public
- They have managed to overcome the difficulties of “traditional” media groups and accepted the risks of becoming independent
- They have a (relatively) small but exceptionally faithful community of followers and supporters
- They understand the relationship with their audiences, followers, readers and publics as a way of enriching their projects: they know and appreciate the advantages of social media and crowdfounding, and they are confortable in a digital environment.
The first of the initiatives is Me-Mo Magazine, a new digital independent publication launched by a group of renowned photographers, including award-winners F. Bucciarelli, M. Brabo and G. Valle. A month after launching their crowdfounding campaign, and 10 days before it ended they managed to get the 15,000 € they were aiming. The five photojournalists involved in the project want to give coverage to their own work and to the works of other photographers that find no opportunities in the existing media. They are commited to offer a deep and immersive analysis of stories that have no space in the media agenda, and document events with a special focus on the human side of the news.
Orgullo y Satisfacción, “Pride and Satisfaction”, is the title of a new satirical digital publication created by a group of cartoonists who resigned from the popular magazine El Jueves in June 2014, after publisher RBA pulled 60,000 copies of a front page design satirizing the abdication of former king Juan Carlos I. A total of 18 cartoonists left the magazine after this episode of censorship and decided to launch a new 82-page publication only available online. This was not the first time that El Jueves experienced an incident because of its criticism with the Royal Family. But in this occasion part of the magazine’s staff decided to resign showing their opposition to the publisher’s stance and resolved to go on their own, taking many of the magazine’s readers with them.
The most recent case that took place just this week is that of the radio programme Carne Cruda (Raw Meat), a political satire news show that had been digitally broadcasted by Cadena Ser for the last 2 years, after the polemic cancelation from the national public radio RNE3 in 2012. As the hoster of the programme, Javier Gallego, announced just yesterday during the programme, the show will leave the private broadcaster due to the increasing separation with the company, and the lack of understanding between them. Instead, Gallego an his team will try to build a new and independent digital show, that they announce as the “independent republic of the radio”. “The best way of keeping our autonomy is to become independent”, he explained to his audience, which has loyally followed him from the public broadcaster to the private radio, and will predictably follow him again on this new adventure.
All these examples show that, as the popular Spanish saying claims, “You cannot put doors on the field”, and you cannot stop professionals and communicators of any kind from freely doing their job.