Interview with the editor of the Público website
Público have always been ahead as far as online presence is concerned, and recently the newsroom created a video team, as well as launching a redesigned website. In this short interview, we tried to ask a very busy António about his views on online journalism, a subject he discusses in his blog PontoMedia. Granado is also a lecturer at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, and is one of the best Portuguese minds dealing with the new media issues.
What is the situation of the online journalism in Portugal? Does it exist?
Online journalism in Portugal is taking its first steps. The investment in this area is still minimum, and the media are now taking a different look to the possibilities opened by the Internet.
What changes are currently happening as digital journalism is concerned?
PÚBLICO debuts this week (November 19th) with videos on its website – we have established a five-person team to make them. We are also changing our homepage to give more prominence to vídeo, and we will be getting more pictures and graphics. The Economy Channel is now assured permanence by the economy journalists, which is a first step on the right path.
What is the audience of Público’s online edition?
We have no data that allow us to perceive who the Público.pt readers exactly are. Anything I’d say would be my opinion and not a fact.
As a teacher, do you believe that the preparation given to journalism students at universities takes into account the new reality?
It is clear that most universities aren’t preparing the students for the new realities. For example, there’s still a separation between the teaching of written, radio and TV journalism, which is an outdated 20th century concept.
Are Portuguese journalists, in general, ready to embrace new media?
Portuguese journalists aren’t prepared for new media, because new media are making their way into the newsrooms quite slowly, and sometimes, in the worst way. Journalists must be trained for the tasks demanded by the new journalism, you have to do it with the journalists’ support and not against them. In many places this isn’t being done.
Is there a citizen journalism in Portugal?
I don’t think there’s any yet.
A few years back some said that there was no future in online editions. This year El País’ director said that if he started the newspaper now, he would do it only online. What sort of mentality prevails in the Portuguese editorial market – and what needs to be changed?
It’s a backward mentality. There’s still fear of the digital. People don’t post news online so they won’t “burn” paper scoops, there’s no investment in multimédia because, deep inside, people think that maybe the newspaper crisis isn’t here to stay. Managers’ attitudes towards multimedia must be changed (the small moves aren’t enough, bigger steps are required); newspapers’ mentality must be changed, they can’t go on thinking that a news story lasts 24 hours; journalists’ minds must be changed, they must understand that their main mission is to inform in any way possible, and not to sell newspapers on the day after the events.
Journalists have this strong sense of self, maybe something comparable to doctors, because there’s a notion of power. What will happen to this sense with the participation of readers? Is citizen journalism really journalism?
Journalists must get used to the participation of readers. Jay Rosen calls them “the people formerly known as the audience”, because now they can and want to participate more in the news process. Journalists must understand this radical change and adapt to it. Citizen journalism sometimes is, and sometimes isn’t, journalism. As we all know, there’s also journalism that isn’t journalism, and that ashames us all.
What does the future journalist look like?
The journalist of the future is someone who can look at a story and tell it in the most effective way. Who cares more about the readers and not as much about the sources
And the reader of the future?
The reader of the future is the reader of now. “He knows more than I do” as Dan Gillmor says. He wants and he can participate more. He’s not happy with text only. He wants news immediately, on the platform he’s using, and not on any other that is imposed to him.
The setting for Portuguese online journalism may look desolate, but change is inevitable. Old habits die hard, and the situation in Portugal is rather similar to many other countries. It’s a slow process that has to be made, just like Granado said: “with the journalists’ support and not against them”.
Pictures by Sandra Oliveira