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What is the future of journalism?

Arianna Huffington and James Chau discuss the changing media landscape and whether the internet is really an equaliser.

Last Modified: 26 Oct 2013 08:37
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No subject is off limits - Haru Mutasa talks frankly to inspiring and intriguing personalities from across the world.

This week on South2North, Haru Mutasa speaks to Arianna Huffington, the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, and James Chau, a TV journalist currently working for China's CCTV, at the One Young World summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Haru Mutasa asks Huffington whether she thinks traditional journalism is dying, to which she responds: "Not at all. I think what we are seeing now is [a] kind of hybrid form of journalism which is what I consider the Huffington Post to be, which is both a journalistic enterprise that does investigative journalism .... But at the same time we are a platform, and I love that just as much. That we can have tens of thousands of bloggers provided they meet a kind of quality standard. It doesn't matter who they are. They might be a homeless student or the president of France. We love that they can be next to each other. There is no hierarchy, except for having something to say."

Chau explains that while new media is expanding rapidly, television is still the most reliable source of information for most Chinese viewers: "TV is still the bedrock in China. A lot of people don't have stable electricity supplies, don't have access to computers and wouldn't even know how to use it if you put one in their hand. The mobile is breaking the barriers, but I think the television is still the root together with the amazing emergence of online journalism."

The group discusses the Huffington Post's decision to ban online anonymity after struggling with online trolls. Haru asks if anonymity is necessary for those who could be put in a dangerous position for the information they release.

"There have to be protections for whistle-blowers, for people speaking truth to power, exposing corruption at a risk to their own safety or livelihood. That we are going to maintain," says Huffington. "But trolls who simply want to hide behind anonymity to indulge in ad hominem attacks basically spoils it for us, and there is no reason to allow that."

Haru asks what the future for journalists looks like when news is now instantly available online.

"The media is constantly evolving and really going through some major dynamic shifts," explains Chau. "For example, the traditional sources of advertising revenue are not there as they once were for the television, for the newspapers etc. But you get philanthropists, for example, like Graeme Wood going to JV [joint-venture] with the Guardian Australia, and you have China and state television, and I suspect that each party will be looking at the other and seeing what could work for them."

On the topic of celebrity news, Huffington jokes that light news is readily available for those who are interested: "The third column on the Huffington Post is reserved for light news; entertainment, celebrity, as well as culture and lifestyle. If you don't want to read them, you don't have to click on them - we're not your parents."

The group discusses how the internet works as an equaliser, how to deal with trolls and what role the media has to play in the future.

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South2North can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 1930; Saturday: 1430; Sunday: 0430; Monday: 0830.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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