(global) Periodismo imprescindible

Necesitamos un periodismo competente, que no se limite a decidir qué es de interés público con el “me gusta” o el “no me gusta”. Las plataformas no se crearon para servir a los valores democráticos, sino para ofrecer experiencias “atractivas”

En el último tercio del siglo pasado, hasta la irrupción de la revolución digital en los años noventa, se extendió la convicción de que un periodismo ético era indispensable para construir sociedades democráticas y pluralistas, sociedades abiertas. En principio, el periodismo, como cualquier actividad profesional, debía tratar de alcanzar unas metas que le legitimaban socialmente y para lograrlo debía recurrir a los instrumentos adecuados. La gran pregunta era entonces, como en el caso de las demás profesiones, cuáles eran las metas que daban a la actividad periodística sentido y legitimidad social.

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La respuesta no era difícil de encontrar.

Consistía, ante todo, en ayudar a aumentar la libertad de las personas, ofreciendo informaciones contrastadas, opiniones razonables e interpretaciones plausibles. Distinguiendo, claro está, entre información y opinión, y comunicando hechos relevantes para el público, por mucho que desagradaran a la línea editorial. Pero se trataba también de hacer posible la libre expresión de los profesionales y de la ciudadanía, que es un requisito indispensable de las sociedades abiertas. Entretener, a poder ser de una forma digna, era otra de las metas, y cultivar una opinión pública razonante, de modo que se construyera público, y no simplemente masa.

El conjunto de estos objetivos se encuadraba en esa fórmula clave cuando se trata de una actividad profesional: responsabilidad para poder infundir confianza. Sin esa confianza en la información recibida la ciudadanía se encuentra desasistida, porque conoce la realidad en muy buena medida a través de los medios de información, hasta el punto de que podría hablarse de una “construcción mediática de la realidad”. Esto exige que el periodista y la empresa informativa se hagan responsables de sus expresiones y opiniones, sean escritas u orales, de modo que se conozca al autor y también el medio en que se publican.

Sin duda la ética mediática debía lidiar con dos grandes problemas: que información es poder, en principio, poder de influir en la formación de las mentes, y, en consecuencia, un poder muy codiciado por el mundo político y el económico, y también que información es mercancía, que la empresa informativa debe intentar generar beneficio, y hay modos muy diversos de hacerlo. Es posible asumir la Responsabilidad Social, atendiendo a los intereses legítimos de los afectados por la empresa, o, por el contrario, intentar generar el mayor beneficio para el accionista, caiga quien caiga. Es posible, por ejemplo, intentar reducir la precarización del empleo o fomentarla. Aquí, como en tantas ocasiones, la ética profesional se entrevera con la ética de la organización y las dos han de ser atendidas.

Ahora bien, si estos aspectos estaban un tanto claros en el último tercio del siglo XX, y en ellos abundaban los principios y códigos de ética, en el siglo XXI se ha producido la revolución digital, que parece conmover los cimientos del periodismo.

En principio, el acceso a la Red hace que cualquier persona pueda producir información y opinión a través de blogs, tuits, y también consumir la información de forma rápida, seleccionando además a qué tipo de informador y prescriptor quiere seguir. Surge el llamado “periodismo ciudadano”, referido a la participación de los ciudadanos en la difusión de la información, usando las plataformas que ofrecen las tecnologías, y todo parece anunciar el fin de las jerarquías de información y opinión, para recalar en una democratización, que pone en manos de los movimientos sociales enormes posibilidades de coordinación y encuentro.

La pregunta se impone de forma inevitable: ¿ha llegado el fin del periodismo profesional? La afición por los juegos de suma negativa es una constante en el mundo humano, propenso a pensar en términos de “esto o aquello”, cuando lo inteligente suele ser recurrir a juegos de suma positiva (“esto y aquello”), para contar con mayor riqueza en cada ámbito. En este caso, es necesario fortalecer el periodismo profesional para tener mayor riqueza informativa y de opinión, se exprese a través de medios digitales o en papel, porque la clave no es el medio, sino la necesidad de contar con profesionales bien preparados, que se hagan responsables de sus noticias y opiniones. Y ahora más que nunca, como apunta Juan Cruz en Un golpe de vida.

Por recordar un ejemplo, en la campaña electoral de 2016 en Estados Unidos, el jefe de la campaña era el chairman de una website mediática (Breitbart). En el proceso se multiplicaron las noticias falsas sobre Hilary Clinton, se impuso el recurso a la “posverdad”, que es sencillamente el recurso a las mentiras para destruir a la adversaria, y menudearon las provocaciones incendiarias y los discursos del odio. Las redes, que pueden prestar un servicio extraordinario a la información y la comunicación, también pueden viralizar falsedades que se convierten en trending topic, y sucede que reforzarlas resulta lucrativo. Tomando la pregunta del profesor de Stanford Nathaniel Persily: “¿Puede la democracia sobrevivir a Internet?”. La pregunta no es ociosa, porque la demagogia se mercantiliza: las plataformas no se han creado para servir a los valores democráticos, ni pretenden promocionar un electorado bien informado, sino proporcionar experiencias “atractivas” y “significativas”.

Por supuesto, la campaña de Estados Unidos es sólo un ejemplo, aunque muy relevante, del falseamiento interesado de la realidad que se puede producir a través de las redes, haciendo imposible la construcción de sociedades abiertas, porque la ciudadanía no puede percibir la diferencia entre la noticia falsa y la verdadera, ha de tomar decisiones sobre la base de una realidad distorsionada e inexistente. Pensar en otros ejemplos actuales no es difícil, por desgracia. No es extraño que Macron proponga una legislación para luchar contra las noticias falsas en periodo electoral, pero sería bueno extenderla más allá de ese tiempo.

Sin duda, es necesario regular las redes, pero las medidas jurídicas, con ser necesarias, no bastan. Y no sólo por su lentitud, sino también porque para ser efectivas han de contar siempre con el carácter de las personas y las sociedades, que genera las costumbres. Es imprescindible un periodismo profesional, competente, al que se puedan pedir responsabilidades, tanto al profesional como al medio informativo. Un periodismo que no se limite a decidir qué es de interés público a través del “me gusta”, “no me gusta”, sino preocupado por potenciar una sociedad bien informada y abierta.

 

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