Natalia Karbasova is a data journalist and media trainer based from Munich, Germany. She also has her own blog, MediaKar, designed for journalists getting their start in the business. She answered a few questions about where journalism is today and where she sees it headed in the future.
How has the internet and social media changed journalism?
Journalists have learned to talk to their audience directly and to use the audience as a news source. Before the era of social media, single persons were used as information sources. Today, journalists have access to almost unlimited numbers of people, to their knowledge and skills. To use this knowledge, however, media organizations have to earn a reputation among their audience.
How are journalists viewed by the public?
There’s no general answer to this question. Here in Germany, journalists are viewed rather critically by the public, but still have an image of the fourth power. The situation is quite different in Russia where I come from. Journalists who work in the state media are often unprofessional and aren’t taken seriously by the public. On the other hand, reporters working for the few independent media outlets and some bloggers are highly trusted.
How important is social media to a journalist’s reputation?
Social media per se is not important since everyone is on Facebook and Twitter nowadays. What is important is how journalists use these tools to report news, publish the latest information, and communicate with their sources and audience. Clever use of social media can help journalists become trusted sources of information not only in their own country, but also worldwide.
How do you handle negative criticism to something you write?
I try to explain my point of view and the reasons behind the story. If I’ve made a mistake, I always try to rectify the situation by publishing corrected information.
What do journalists have to do to maintain a good online reputation?
They have to stick to basic journalistic standards and not publish anything online that they wouldn’t have published in a print medium.
What is the hardest part and the best part about being a journalist today?
The hardest part is that everyone can access and publish information nowadays, be it a picture of a plane crash or a video by a witness. This means that journalists have to specialize more on the analysis and evaluation of information. And that’s exactly the best part of it. Journalists have powerful visualization tools and access to great amounts of data, which they are free to play with to find stories.
Where do you see journalism and media going in the future?
The future is digital. On the one hand, journalism is becoming superficial since websites are competing for clicks and therefore advertisers. On the other hand, the media have better possibilities to do in-depth research and to analyze open data. Journalism will also become more visual and interactive, which will bring more personalization and value.