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Tanks, TikTok and Trust

Reuters editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni delivers the 2022 memorial lecture.

Italian journalist Alessandra Galloni broke new ground a year ago when she was named editor-in-chief of Reuters – the first woman to take on this position in the news organisation’s 170-year history.

Recently, she delivered 2022 Reuters Memorial Lecture. Here are the key takeaways from her talk on “Tanks, TikTok and Trust: Journalism in a time of turmoil”.

Social media and citizen journalism

“This war in Ukraine, which has already been dubbed the ‘TikTok war’, is again forcing us in the traditional media to ask ourselves: what is our role?

How does a profession whose principles were largely formed in the eras of print, television and – for the millennial organisations among us, the worldwide web – remain relevant in an age of constantly evolving social media?

What do we do when most people in most of the world can access – and create – news from anywhere through their phone?

Does global reach still matter when technology has made the planet smaller and given consumers more news than ever?

Here’s the thing: More information and better access is not always more and better.

Social media and citizen journalists can be brilliant at giving viewers a snapshot of what is happening, a visceral and often emotional taste of different aspects of what is going on.

But they can’t necessarily provide a true reflection of all the facts, or a clearer understanding of the big picture.”

On impartial journalism

“At its best, impartial journalism can give a clearer understanding of the big picture.

At its best, deeply-reported journalism can take multiple strands of information and synthesise them into a coherent narrative, with context, that acknowledges what is not yet known.

At its best, fact-based journalism can serve as an antidote to the disinformation that clogs up social media platforms more and more.”

A ‘dangerous time’ for journalist

“Journalists who deliver accurate information also face violence, legal constraints, harassment and other barriers to their work.

The number of journalists jailed by their governments around the world set a record in 2021. 

In the past several years, more than a dozen countries have imposed criminal laws against so-called “fake news.”

These laws purport to apply to deliberate disinformation by journalists, but in practice are often used to bury the unflattering, unwelcome news that governments don’t want published.”   

Rebuilding trust

“For too many of them right now, the reliability of our news is existential – a matter of life and death.

For those of us chronicling the first draft of history, this represents a huge responsibility and a historic opportunity.

I hope we can make it our common mission to restore the faith in our profession that has eroded so sharply in recent years.

A mission to demonstrate why trustworthy journalism, pursued without fear or favor, remains such a powerful force for the global public good.”

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