INTERVIEW with Javier García Martín, journalist, currently working on TVE News.
-Javier, in what way have the Internet and social networks changed the way we do journalism?
-I don’t know what journalism was like before social networks because I didn’t experience it. I read (and I have to assume that it was like that) that before things came by word of mouth. That they would whistle something at someone and that, if that someone had their own office, he used to send someone else to look and ask if the things were those or were they different. And that, between them, they wrote the chronicle that transmuted the event into a story.
It makes me sad to think that there are those who believe that they ‘do’ journalism without leaving Twitter and those who believe that they consume it without ever watching a news program.
I have also read that before people knew which street the nearest newsroom was on. I started as an intern in a pure digital medium (Madridiario, the first in Madrid) during 15-M (which anticipated everything that the networks were going to be worth). So, from my point of view, I can only say that the current journalistic ‘do’ is attached to the existence of the networks: deep down – because they feed us with topics and, sometimes, we turn what happens on them into news – and in the form – because we learn to speed up and abbreviate content.
Between the optimism of those who maintain that social networks are the democratization of journalism and the lament of those who think that they have ended up weakening their credibility, generationally I am closer to trusting in their virtues: immediacy, direct contact, plurality.
What does make me sick is to think that there are those who believe that they ‘do’ journalism without leaving X (Twitter) and those who believe that they consume it without ever watching a news program.
-How can networks serve as sources of information?
-It is defending the obvious but it is the bottom line of everything: the networks, by themselves, are not a source of information -except for their own corporate issues, of course- and the messages -the human complaints, the striking videos- have to be questioned and asked -verified, wow-. It’s good to be clear about this because, if we confuse that, we confuse the following.
And the following are the opinions and the paid accounts of the opinions that, in anonymous spaces, without filtering or regulating, serve to strategically misinform. When we ask ourselves why there is not greater control in the networks (for example, to differentiate true data from invented data) we must look at those who, in the exercise of their responsibilities, decide not to promote this control and ask ourselves what they get from that negligence. .
-What obligations does a journalist have when using social networks in their work?
-To the basics, to contrast, I would add a little distance.
-How to combat their evils? Disinformation, fake news, etc…
-Of course, not giving space in our media to lies, no matter who utters them, unless it is to dismantle them. However, for me, the most interesting debate is on another point: how to act on social networks, what the journalist’s role should be when he is faced with a manifest falsehood…
We will agree that our professional mandate is to combat lies and that a good thread can be as viral as the misinformation it counterargues. However, doubts arise when putting this philosophical mandate into practice in an ecosystem that manifestly prevents it, while networks have become the preferred place of operations for the disinformation industry.
As I said, in his daily piece or in the o’clock bulletin, the journalist has to exercise rigor, that goes without saying… but does he also have the moral obligation to publicly apostille everything he sees around him in all the networks that I look at? It’s like pretending to be in every coffee shop conversation in the world: our hands could fall off by persevering and it would always be a frustrating task because we would never have time to reply to every false comment filed against every tweet, against every Instagram post or YouTube video. .
Furthermore, we do not demand that a surgeon continue operating when his work day ends, so it seems unfair to me that the journalist has to face that dilemma from the armchair at home. I see many colleagues fighting for money at all hours from their profiles and, leaving aside the prominence that each one wants to seek, I doubt to what extent it is convenient for us to take on the task of acting as network police.
And, even less so, if we all know that the end is the same as that of the Spartans in ‘300’: falling under a hail of arrows. I don’t know… It is true that, if we take this reflection to the extreme, the only possible solution we would have is, then, a big resignation in the networks.
-How do you use social networks?
-Personally, in an essentially recreational way. I decided a long time ago to reduce the time I spend on them. In the workplace, as an alert platform for official profiles, of public interest and of professional colleagues. And sometimes I share my work in them.
-Which ones do you use the most and why?
-X, because it is still the meeting of all the media, journalists and agencies you want.
-How do you reconcile the personal and professional level in them?
-As I told you, lately I’ve been starving them. I am a bit of a militant of silence in that sense… Of course, it coincides with the fact that I work for a general media – and even more so, of a public nature -, and that makes you relate to your job and to the plurality and diversity of conscious way. It also happens to me that I see that there are already many people giving their opinion.
-Should the social audience be measured? How do social networks help attract an audience?
Of course, of course. It makes no sense to reduce the hearing to what the audiometers show and I think that no one can take it seriously like that. Social networks are basic in any strategy because they not only attract audiences to linear media, but also generate independent communities that, beyond advertising, are involved and capable of suggesting product improvements.
With Eurovision, for example, you realize the depth of knowledge of the subject that many people have and how much you can learn. To a large extent, the interest that networks have expressed in this festival is behind the resurgence of its media interest.
-Does the use of social networks explain much of the success of formats such as the Benidorm Fest, or last summer’s Grand Prix?
-They are lateral communities that work especially well for entertainment. It’s like going to the cinema and being able to discuss the film out loud with the entire room or meeting up at the end of a concert with all the attendees in the same bar.
-How do Telediario reporters try to use social networks? What are your guidelines?
-The chain’s social networks, obviously, are managed by a specialized team; particular networks, each of us, although most of us share a similar use.
-What feedback do you usually receive from viewers?
-We are always attentive to suggestions and proposals. The most common thing is closeness, interest and education.