Interview with: Stefano Lamorgese, Journalist at Rainews 24, Italy
Interviewed by: Marco Di Donato Researcher at UNIMED, Italy
1. Challenges of current journalism education: What is problematic in teaching digital journalism?
- Digital journalism has been part of the academic track for at least 15 years. But in 15 years in this world, especially that related to the Internet, we witnessed a deep change in the world of communication.
- Today, the technical instruments with which to perform digital journalism are at the disposal of everyone, in every part of the world, for every single user. Having a smartphone with a high definition camera currently means that you can be a source for journalism.
- In my opinion, this creates an ambiguity. The main problem in current journalism is related to methodology: How to use those new instruments? How to use or define a reliable source? How to differentiate the user from the digital journalist? How to manage sources? The problem is mainly related to professional ethics rather than to the technology itself.
2. Developing journalism education: What would be the ideal model for teaching digital journalism? How do we develop teaching in that direction?
- The starting point is to come back to “Internet grammar”, to the basis, for example, to HyperText Markup Language (HTML). HTML is the basis by which to understand the interface of websites and understand how computers interact among them. HTML is fundamental in order to analyse a tweet, a post on Facebook or a post on your own website. It is the basis for everything.
3. Combining practice and theory: What kind of new forms could be developed in order to teach both practical skills and a theoretical understanding of journalism?
- As an example, I can give you the one about the photo reporter. I think we have observed a huge transformation in this field. In the past, the photographer’s work was less interactive, not related to the Internet or new technologies. Currently, digital cameras are able to shoot thousands of pictures, new software is able to manage those pictures (cut, chromatic changes, etc…) and with satellite connections, you can send everything to every part of the world. The photo reporter is responsible for the entire process. New technology in this field means a new form of knowledge.
4. Local market needs: How is the journalism education able to meet the needs of the journalistic labour market? In what way can this be improved?
- Currently, a journalist is someone able to write an article, edit an article and search out sources for the article, but at the same time, is someone able to use photos, to work on social networks and to choose keywords for the article. There is no doubt that these days, journalism is much more complex than it was in the past.
- You, as a journalist, have to build the news and also spread the news, but also, because the news itself is a file, a file needs an indexing process.
5. Interacting with the audience: How to teach social media skills? How to include content created by the audience? How to involve the audience in journalistic work?
- Since 2011, we have had the opportunity to analyse the Arab Spring as an example to evaluate the weight of social networks in daily life, as an actor changing the world. I’m thinking of Egypt and Tunisia, for example.
- For journalists, the social network is a both a source of and a place in which to spread the news. Do not forget that a social network is an enormous HyperText. So the first step for a journalism student is to learn how to manage his or her profile from a simple user to a “journalist user”.