Noel Curran, the director-general of the European Broadcasting Union, recently spoke on the future of journalism in light of the pandemic with Alessandro Gisotti, editorial vice director with Vatican Media. In his interview Mr Curran said, “I think the whole digital news cycle which is 24-hours a day 7-days a week, means quick delivery, speed, being first…I think that is a challenge because some journalists do not have enough time to do proper research. They rely on the same sources and I think that is a challenge…And I think the power that these global tech companies have, acting as gatekeepers…I think that is also a real challenge for journalism.”
Highlighting the importance of public service media, particularly during the pandemic, Mr Curran continued, “I think it is worth reiterating the role that public service media played, in particular, during the pandemic. It became a portal for the population: it became somewhere they went for education, where they went for news, where they went for public health messaging.”
In response to the phrase “hitting the street” which was used by Pope Francis in this year’s message for World Communications Day, Mr Curran said, “For me, the phrase that he used about ‘hitting the street’ works in both ways: It’s going out there, it’s working on the ground, hearing what is happening on the ground (which a lot of our people do), but it is also, in our own organizations, reflecting what the ground looks like, and reflecting the diversity that we see in communities now.”
When asked how he would explain the relevance of journalism to younger people, Mr Curran stated, “I would refer to every piece of research that there is that shows that huge amounts of young people access social media, they access the tech companies, while relatively small numbers of them have trust in what they are reading. So they access it, but they don’t trust it! What I would say to them is that professional journalism allows you to trust what you are reading. Wouldn’t it be great to access news and content online, the way you want to and actually trust it? Because you don’t have that now. That is why those younger audiences turned to us in the last 12 months the way they did, and now we need to reach out to them and we need to try to hold on them.”
The European Broadcasting Union is the world’s leading alliance of public service media with 115 member organisations in 56 countries and an additional 31 associates worldwide. Noel Curran previously served as the director-general of RTÉ, Ireland’s national public service broadcaster.