Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at NYU, delivered yesterday the master class at the school of journalism of Sciences Po.
His opening statement was both thoughtful and provocative:"The way you imagine the users of journalism means the way you are a useful journalist". Then he stressed the fact that we assist to a breaking up of the mass media with a shift in power. It is the end of mass audience and passive audience. People are connected to each other with all the systems of communication: blogs, podcasts, videos. Now everybody can use instruments which used, a few years ago, to belong only to the mass media.
Facing this new state of things, the journalist must play his part very carefully. He is aware that users know more than he does and that people who know a lot are able to publish on the Web. In fact, the journalist is an heightened kind of informed citizen. His task is to give people what they have no way to demand.
Professor Rosen is well aware that the young journalists must adjust to the ominous transition of traditional media facing the challenges of Internet. Answering a question, he admitted that the financial crisis of the newspaper industry is "an unsolved problem". Advertising is moving towards hundreds of web sites which are not involved in the business of information. Classified ads are delivered for free. Lacking money, newspapers are downsizing and get less informative. And yet, the job of journalism is necessary and exciting.
A lot more questions could be asked. We need to keep talking to Jay Rosen.