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A short introduction

February 12, 2011

“Change is inevitable. Change is hard. Change is good. Change is rarely recognized in time. Change is life,” writes Jeff Jarvis on his blog while talking about journalism. Nothing easier, nothing truer.

The changing nature of journalism is a fascinating phenomenon, not only because it is happening now, every month and every year, but mainly because journalism is at the basis of our societies.

Its changes will affect how our democracies will develop and sustain themselves in this delicate historical period where technology transforms realities faster than we can control.

In the past few decades, we have witnessed the advent of the Internet, the spread of computers and portable devices, the invention of new methods to read newspapers, spread news and communicate with others. The notion of what information is has changed: interactivity and convergence are today’s realities but we still need to fully understand and discover their potential.

Along with these new and exciting changes, we have witnessed a drop in newspaper readership and sales. Journalists all over the world have lost their jobs and important newspapers have failed, leaving us wondering whether the power of the so-called “Fourth Estate” as we have seen it in Citizen Kane is now fading. That powerful journalism that can cause a society to lose thousands of dollars and can destroy a politician’s campaign.

In the last ten years, the world has been talking about the crisis of journalism and has often connected this phenomenon to the advent of the Internet and the new media. The same has happened in Italy. Following the path inaugurated in the United States and the rest of Europe, Italian journalism has changed in three major ways: in terms of the content of the news; in terms of the technical devices used to produce, deliver and consume the news; and in terms of the journalist who produces the news.

When dealing with such a transient topic, a fundamental question comes to mind. Is it true that these changes are related to the spread of the Internet? And is there really a crisis of Italian journalism? It can be said quite certainly that Italian journalism is undergoing a period of deep change rather than a crisis connected to the spread of the Internet. If there is a crisis of Italian journalism, this crisis is connected to an ethical rather than technological issue.

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