The podcast «What’s the point of opinion journalism in the digital age?» published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism discusses the evolving role and importance of opinion journalism in the modern digital age. Mainly, how opinion journalism evolves in an environment where everybody has a way of expressing their opinions and reading others people’s opinions. At first, it was the bloggers but now it has evolved to another new environment: social media. Furthermore, it makes an interesting analysis of the benefit to publishers and what needs to be done to have various rigorous opinions in this digital age.
The host is Rasmus Nielsen, who is a co-author of the Digital News Report, Director of the Reuters Institute, and a Professor of Political Communication at Oxford University. Whereas, the guest is Karen Attiah, an award-winning Washington Post columnist that mainly writes about international affairs, culture, and human rights issues. She worked at the Associated Press before joining The Washington Post in 2014, first as a Digital Producer and later as Global Opinions Editor.
Opinion journalism vs News reporting
Opinion journalism is defined by Karen as those kinds of journalists who “are able to again, build off of that news gathering, and then add judgments, framing, context, illumination, and perhaps push it forward”. Whilst, Karen illustrates news reporters as journalists who “gather the news, curate it –they do frame it in a way but again, the personal judgment, the value judgments, the moral judgments by the author, by the reporter are left out”. The wholeness of opinion journalism is based on the extra input of the journalists to the article in terms of judgment and personality.
Philip Crowther on the left image and Arturo Pérez-Reverte Gutiérrez on the right image.
As an example of opinion journalism and news report in the photos above you can find on the left side the known journalist named Philip Crowther (a news reporter), that covers the Ukraine war in different languages and different chains for example Morning In America y Voice of America(USA), RTL De Journal (Luxemburg), DW Español (Spain), LCI en direct (France) y Servus Nachrichten (Austria). Whereas, on the picture on the right side you can find Arturo Pérez-Reverte Gutiérrez who is a known journalist in Spain, as for opinion journalism since every Sunday he publishes an opinion piece at XL Semanal a supplementary magazine from the journal El Correo.
As a provider of diverse perspectives and informed opinions
Opinion journalism is an essential part of journalism that provides diverse viewpoints on various issues. This kind of journalist, by providing their analysis and commentary on current events, offers an alternative perspective that can help readers understand harder matters better. This analysis is based on experts and rigorous search throughout reliable sources. Moreover, it can also bring attention to topics that may be ignored by traditional news, and help to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the present situation.
Brian Stelter, an american journalist who held a show called at ‘Reliable sources’ that was focused on analysis of and commentary on the American news media. Stelter also worked as Chief media correspondent at CNN, as a reporter for The New York Times and editor at the TVNewser.
Digital platforms as a tool used for further reach
In the podcast, it is argued that digital platforms have expanded the reach of opinion journalism by making it more accessible to a broader audience. Social media platforms, blogs, and podcasts have helped opinion journalists to connect with their audience more directly in order to reach a global audience and their viewpoints. Moreover, digital platforms have also given rise to new forms of opinion journalism, such as data-driven journalism and visual storytelling.
In this image are from left to right Joanna Hausmann, George Harris, Patricia Janiot and César Miguel Rondón at Georges show ‘George a la carta’, talking about how the Venezuelan journalists had to reinvent themselves throughout these new digital platforms due to Venezuelan dictatorship.
Crucial role in democracy
Opinion journalism provides diverse perspectives and informed opinions, offers a platform for alternative voices, and encourages critical thinking and it reaches a broader audience engagement. However, it also faces significant challenges in the digital age, where journalists must remain vigilant in their sourcing, fact-checking, and editorial standards to ensure that it promotes informed and constructive debate rather than promoting harmful or divisive comments. That way it can ensure that opinion journalism remains a vital pillar of democratic societies.
In conclusion, Opinion journalism is different from news reporting, as it provides personality to the article, rather than just presenting facts without any personal perspective and informed opinions, and it also encourages critical thinking on a broader audience. This wider reach of viewers is due to the rise of digital platforms since it’s been a huge help not only with a larger reach but also allowing journalists to engage with them. However, opinion journalism also faces significant challenges, such as the potential for misinformation and the spread of extremist views, and journalists must set rigorous and ethical standards when promoting informed debate. Despite the challenges, this kind of journalism plays a crucial role in democracy, since its existence and relevance are essential for the functioning of democratic societies mostly by providing critical thinking.