Qwoted is committed to exploring the current state of the media by speaking to industry leaders and educating future generations of media professionals. What has social media and technological innovation brought to the table? What can we expect for the future of journalism?
After graduating with a degree in International Relations from Durham University, Jibin Mathew George worked as a sub-editor at a foreign policy magazine in New Delhi. He later transitioned to the blockchain and cryptocurrency news platform AMBCrypto, based in Bengaluru, India.
At AMBCrypto, George’s responsibilities vary. He plans and structures all news content, while also mentoring new journalists and junior editors. “I am part of a brilliant team. Right from the editorial staff to the upper management, everyone is very supportive. A great team, in my opinion, is a pre-requisite to quality in any field, especially in journalism,” says George.
Q: If there’s one thing you could change or improve about journalism—in any area—what might that be and why?
JG: Journalism, in my view, is too obsessed with viewership figures and the need to grab eyeballs. Today, the profession and many of its practitioners see news as a tool to entertain the audience, rather than a way to educate and enlighten the public. This is one of the reasons why stories such as the Australian bushfires and the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China are pushed down the pecking order by a Hollywood actor’s raging divorce proceedings.
Journalists and newsrooms should draw a line and prioritize what needs to be reported. In this regard, I feel journalists are held hostage by what they think the viewers want to know, rather than what they need to know.
Q: Which aspects of your work do you find the most challenging? The most rewarding?
JB: Setting up an interview and reaching out for quotes can be very, very challenging. Many people don’t appreciate the effort that goes into this. For journalists, establishing rapport is key, and this communication is merely the first step in forming a beneficial relationship between two professionals.
As a journalist, I feel one is most rewarded when one’s efforts and the quality of one’s work is recognized. When such works go on to contribute substantially to the ongoing discourse, that is even more rewarding. I also have a soft spot for the adrenaline rush you get when you’re about to break a story before anyone else does. That’s always a hoot, and yes, very rewarding.
Q: What do you think about the role of technology in journalism? Is it helpful? harmful? Something in between?
JG: It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that technology has revolutionized journalism. From spell-check to transcribing interviews, technology – especially AI—has made it easier for journalists to do their jobs. Tech has also made traditional news media more interactive and accessible for thousands of people. However, I do think that to a certain degree, many exaggerate the irreplaceability of technology and AI. Technology may be critical, but it cannot replace real, hard-working people, as they remain the best fact-checkers and interpreters of data. Technology isn’t irreplaceable, but people are.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring young writers and reporters?
JG: Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Range and versatility and a talent to adapt are three of the best characteristics a writer can have. Never be afraid to ask a question and never shy away from picking the brains of someone you wish to learn from.
Q: Social media has upended the traditional media landscape. One of the great challenges it creates is authenticity and malevolent actors. How do think journalists and reporters should deal with the rising tide of misinformation?
JG: Today, many journalists are more concerned with being first, rather than being accurate. I think that attitude needs to change. The day every journalist accepts the precedence of truth over speed will be the day that the profession will be truly equipped to fight the rising tide of misinformation, especially on social media.
Q: What do you see as some of journalism’s biggest potential pitfalls? And what gives you hope for the future of journalism?
JG: I’m afraid a significant majority of newsrooms across the world today are too concerned about how their reporting will be looked at by stakeholders – politicians, advertisers, financiers etc. Journalism is a noble profession. It should not be run like a business. This was one of the 20th century’s core journalistic principles, one that we seem to have forgotten today.
Local communities and their issues are rarely aired or represented in national media, which is why most of these communities are quick to turn to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter where they are easy prey for misinformation.
What gives me hope, however, is that diversity is slowly creeping into the field of journalism. As a profession, it is no more a job for just the urbane and the articulate. Local communities will grow in representational prominence over the next few years because many journalists are emerging from these very communities.