International Sports Journalists’ Day 2011 “We must fight against manipulation and defend our right of expression” – AIPS President Gianni Merlo

SOCIAL MEDIA MUST BE HARNESSED AND USED WELL, NOT ABUSED.

In recent years, our profession has been experiencing a crisis of identity and we are still unable to clearly see the end of the tunnel which new technologies have squeezed us into. Those who have created this artificial freedom, that is the online world, knew exactly in which direction it would go, and certainly not towards full freedom, indeed.

The gurus of social media are celebrated by the world, as men with a “vision” that is about manipulating reality, but instead of being seen as heroes, what they have produced should be used with caution. Today journalism is in the hands of hackers and fake news. Presidents tweet, people read less and are increasingly distracted and lap up any kind of news they come across. Sport has absorbed some of the worst of digital society. We must react and bring this world, which youth is so close to, to a more human dimension. It is a cultural battle, but it is a necessary one. We need to use social media in the right way. This of course is not easy, but we have no alternatives if we wish to save our dignity and our profession.

Journalism has come under attack from several sides. An example came from what happened in the Gulf, where political reasons lead to a demand for information channels to be shut down. If this request is met, tomorrow others will demand the same sanctions in other countries. This aversion to the freedom of information is very contagious and the world of sport is fragile. We must make ourselves immune to this and reject the reactionary drift, which can bring sport and its industry into the hands of organizations of those with muddy souls.

Journalism has not died out as some had hoped, but it is wounded. It is up to us to give it real life again. It is still far more dignified to be a journalist than a hacker.

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