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Friday, February 18, 2022

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The new newsrooms

It has been very interesting for me to read and learn more about the new newsrooms. A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me about the future of journalism. In Brazil, 12 big media organizations closed in 2021, and many magazines and centennial newspapers have stopped their print version to become online outlets. Despite the costs and financial issues, we also talked about how to make newsworthy content in an age where information comes from many different sources and social media in real-time. 

Credit: Pixabay
My answer was that to stand out, journalists and newsrooms have to engage more with the audience, know their needs, and address the information directly to them. I haven’t made that connection yet, but now I notice how it relates to local and nonprofit news, as well as activist journalism.

I realized how powered the local news is to connect us to our community and neighbors and give voice to what wouldn’t be covered by the big media. Unfortunately, according to The U.S. News Deserts Database, 1,800 communities in the US have lost their local newsroom since 2004. Besides, the article “The death knell for local newspapers? It’s perilously close” by Margaret Sullivan published in The Washington Post mentioned that more than 2,000 local newspapers have gone out of business in the last 15 years. 

That contributes to a less informed public, which leads to less civic engagement and public polarization – and it is exactly what we can see both here and in Brazil. 

That is why nonprofit newsrooms are so important and are helping to fill these gaps. They have been producing content focused on one or a few society’s problems, providing in-depth coverage, and also opening space for an inclusive and diverse staff. Another positive point is that they are in essence trustful, nonpartisan and focused on facts, and transparent about their funding and commercial media. 

All that work seems to be promising. Audiences grew and journalism has served more people as third-party outlets published the content produced by nonprofit news organizations. In addition, the number of nonprofit outlets has been increased at an average pace of a dozen or more a year since 2008. 

Activism Journalism

In my opinion, one of the reasons they are growing and reaching more people is because of activism journalism. I agree with Gwen Lister when she says here that activism can be combined with journalism, in terms of causes, whatever those causes may be. The public likes to see their stories, struggles, and problems on media; they want to feel represented. 

Credit: Pixabay

I see it similarly as employing bias in journalism. Everyone has a bias, but it doesn’t mean that when producing content, a journalist won’t follow the objective process of journalism. 

An activist journalist can be subjective when choosing things to cover but verify the information and follow fair practices and writing rules. 

To sum up, I would highlight Gwen Lister’s opinion about one of the challenges of journalism today. “We mustn’t let our standards slip because of the digital tsunami and social media onslaught that is pointing people in the direction of entertainment and clickbait.” 

As I answered my friend when we are discussing the future of journalism, we need to break through those challenges (social media, mis- and disinformation) with serious journalism because it makes a real difference in people’s lives. 


Kohli, Anisha 2022, ‘We wanted to be the voice of the voiceless people of Namibia’, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, accessed 18 February 2022, <https://www.icij.org/inside-icij/2022/02/we-wanted-to-be-the-voice-of-the-voiceless-people-of-namibia/>.

Sullivan, Margareth 2019, The death knell for local newspapers? It’s perilously close, The Washington Post, accessed 18 February 2022, <https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-death-knell-for-local-newspapers-its-perilously-close/2019/11/21/e82bafbc-ff12-11e9-9518-1e76abc088b6_story.html>.

*This article was submitted as a memo assignment for the course "Current Issues of Journalism" at the University of Illinois.

About Manu Ferreira

Hi, my name is Manu Ferreira. I am multimedia producer. I hold a bachelor's degree in Social Communication - Radio, TV, and Internet, and a Master's degree in Journalism. Here, I want to share my ideas and some of the work I've done in my career.


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