With the influx of social media, the authenticity of journalism as a profession has experienced a nose dive over the past few years, Country Coordinator for DW Akademie, Beate Weides, has posited.
Beate Weides stated that the introduction of new media, with the upsurge of fake websites, unprofessional bloggers, and even personal handles, has distorted the essence and validity of news so much that it has affected journalism and media all over the world.
“We live and witness actually a real disruption in journalism and media. It is happening in Europe, in the United States and so many other countries all over the world and also in Africa. The growth of social media has changed the profession of journalist forever.” She reiterated.
According to her, billions of people worldwide are able to create their own content and then share to the mass explaining that it leads to the spread of a huge amount of unreliable, false information, as well as fake news.
She added that the African continent is not left because “even if the growth of Africa is on a smaller level, it affects us all.”
Beate Weides was speaking at the opening of the West Africa Conference on Investigative Journalism organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in Accra on Wednesday.
The two-day conference, brought together 45 Investigative Journalists from 16 countries across the West African Sub-region to discuss: “The State of Investigative Journalism in Africa, Building Safety Net for Investigative Journalism in West Africa, What has to be done and Cross-border Investigative Journalism: Lessons from West Africa Leaks and Panama Papers”.
The conference is also to initiate the set-up and launch of the West Africa Network of Investigative Journalists.
Weides addressing participants at the conference, said distrust in media has become a common phenomenon with pessimists saying digital revolution has destroyed classical journalism and economic media model and “now it is going to destroy politics, it is going to destroy democracy.”
She, however, recommended that investigative journalism become more important. To her, it matters more now than ever as investigations are increasingly being carried out by the media as in the case of Panama Papers and West Africa Leaks which opened a can of worms on how government officials, arms merchants and corporations took away millions of dollars from destitute West African nations through offshore tax havens.
She established that this type of investigative journalism must be encouraged among media practitioners to put an end to corruption and injustice.