Changes in modern technology have dramatically shifted the news landscape, according to journalist Benjamin Torres Gotay.
Gotay, the deputy editor and columnist for “El Nuevo Día,” Puerto Rico’s leading newspaper, said people live in an environment where a constant stream of information can be accessed within seconds. Speaking before a small crowd at La Casa Cultural on Monday night, he emphasized how social media allows more people to receive and distribute news. In the past, he added, only a newspaper and occasional radio broadcast offered a sense of the world.
“We live in an era of noise from the moment we wake up to the moment we close our eyes to get a good night’s rest,” he said. “Things are radically different now as you may all know. Anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account can become a news outlet.”
Gotay said these changes pose challenges to journalists because it forces reporters to ensure the accuracy of any information they encounter online. He added that modern technology has compelled newspapers to be more careful of what they publish because a situation could change a minute after it is reported.
As the deputy editor of “El Nuevo Día,” Gotay said the greatest difficulty lies in distinguishing fact from fiction while also convincing his audience that the paper’s information is accurate.
Gotay said he often waits before reporting on breaking news in order to confirm that he has the correct information.
“I follow the principle which many journalists follow: It’s not the first to say it, but who says it better,” he said. “The important thing is not being the first to say it, but to say it right. That is my challenge every day.”
Even though “El Nuevo Día” is one of the only major news sources in Puerto Rico, Gotay said he understands that different voices and approaches are necessary to help foster reliable and trustworthy news.
According to Gotay, advertisements also pose a threat to newspapers. If a newspaper only has a few ads, any one advertiser holds leverage the publication. But with many ads, “no one person can hold the paper hostage,” he said.
Despite changes in technology, Gotay said he believes the most important principles of journalism have remained the same. He said his role is to be an explainer and an interpreter. He admitted that although he may not always be right, he tries to stay honest.
Audience members interviewed applauded Gotay’s commitment to journalistic integrity.
Cell biology professor Daniel Colon-Ramos said he thought it was great for students to hear Gotay speak about his development as a journalist.
“It’s refreshing to know that he values integrity so much,” said Eddie Ortiz Nieves ’16, a student recruitment coordinator at La Casa. “To hear from someone with so much power and influence that he focuses on honesty and clarity is very comforting.”
Gotay first began reporting in 1993.