HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Controlled chaos: As journalism and documentary film converge in digital, what lessons can they share?
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 19, 2012, 1:06 p.m.

The return of sentiment

“The most masterful journalists, in their most memorable reporting, attain this perfect balance between emotion and information, color and news, the affective and the cognitive.”

Change is gradual. We see more of certain trends and less of other tendencies over time, punctuated by bursts of innovation. It is these latter bursts that we interpret as change, even though they are not. They present reactions to the long durée of change. For this reason, I checked my crystal ball at the door when I entered academia — I don’t believe in and am not interested in predicting the future. I would rather be surprised.

That disclaimer made, here is what I would like to be surprised by in 2013: The return of sentiment to news reporting, co-creating, curating. Not sentimental news, but news made better, through (yes, algorithmically generated propagation, but not redaction of) sentiment, that drives, directs, informs, and pluralizes news processes and values. Journalists have always struggled with sentiment in reporting, trying to either manage their own emotions against the objectivity dogma of Western journalism or to find meaningful ways to integrate emotion into a story in general.

This is because the balance between emotion and news is delicate. The most masterful journalists, in their most memorable reporting, attain this perfect balance between emotion and information, color and news, the affective and the cognitive. By contrast, the form of news reporting least memorable is frequently characterized by excessive emotion, and the misinformation that excess produces.

Journalists have a rare opportunity to use social media to resolve a longstanding conflict regarding the meaning of emotion in journalism, and to resolve it in ways that evolve beyond subjectivity/objectivity binaries. There is not one recipe that fits all. Different contexts call for different approaches. But, a true balance between sentiment and news can be rendered through social media, and can drive toward avant journalism(s) — that is, hybrid journalism(s) of liminality, pluralization, and disruption.

Zizi Papacharissi is professor and head of the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago and editor of Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media.
POSTED     Dec. 19, 2012, 1:06 p.m.
PART OF A SERIES     Predictions for Journalism 2013
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Controlled chaos: As journalism and documentary film converge in digital, what lessons can they share?
Old and new media types from journalism, documentary, and technology backgrounds gathered at MIT to share practices and discuss mutual concerns.
The near future of First Look’s next site, Racket, looks fuzzy
The site, promised as a “satirical approach to American politics and culture,” was set to launch this month, but now it’s unclear when or if it’ll get off the ground.
The newsonomics of the Sun-Times national/local network play
The company behind Chicago’s No. 2 newspaper wants to go national on the cheap. Can it succeed where Patch and others have failed?
What to read next
1020
tweets
The newsonomics of the millennial moment
The new wave of news startups is aiming at a younger audience. But do legacy media companies have a chance at earning their attention?
803A mixed bag on apps: What The New York Times learned with NYT Opinion and NYT Now
The two apps were part of the paper’s plan to increase digital subscribers through smaller, targeted offerings. Now, with staff cutbacks on the way, one app is being shuttered and the other is being adjusted.
413The new Vox daily email, explained
The company’s newsletter, Vox Sentences, enters an increasingly crowded inbox. Can concise writing and smart aggregation on the day’s news help expand their audience?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Wikipedia
Center for Public Integrity
Grist
BuzzFeed
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Placeblogger
Newser
Tucson Citizen
PBS NewsHour
La Nación
Tribune Publishing
Las Vegas Sun