As part of our Collectif, in which we feature the work of our partners (see more here) Martynas Vanagas and Pierre Caulliez of Yoof Agency take us through the latest in Gen Z media.

Love him or hate him, you really can’t ignore Elon Musk. In recent weeks the serial entrepreneur and, since last year CEO of Twitter, has been pontificating in public about the future of AI while presiding over the slightly chaotic launch of Twitter’s blue tick initiative.

The Yoof team caught up with Musk during the recent POSSIBLE event in Miami, Florida, in which he shared his thoughts on the future of journalism in a conversation with Linda Yaccarino, NBCU’s chair of global advertising and partnerships. 

The discussion ranged from the rise of citizen journalism to the role of traditional media, as well as the importance of trust, transparency, and free speech. Here are a few of the highlights. The article finishes with the direct question we asked him and his response.

Decentralisation and the Role of Traditional Media

During the discussion Musk emphasised the importance of decentralising news and empowering citizen journalism, allowing the public to have more control over the narratives they consume. However, he also acknowledged the continued relevance of traditional media outlets. In response to the question posed by Martynas, co-founder of Yoof and a news media professional, Musk stated that excellent writers from traditional publications would still gain significant followings due to the quality of their work. While decentralisation is important, traditional media will continue to play a role in the evolving landscape of journalism.

Citizen Journalism and the Democratisation of News

Musk also reiterated his controversial vision for the future of journalism. He believes it needs to be rooted in a democratic approach to news, where individuals have the power to choose the narratives they believe are important. By decentralising news and empowering citizen journalism, Musk believes that the public will have a stronger voice in shaping the stories that matter to them. The focus on citizen journalism also suggests a shift in the balance of power from centralised publishers to a more distributed and diverse range of voices.

Balancing Free Speech and Responsibility

One of the questions that Musk always gets asked is about is the limits of free speech. Musk reaffirmed his commitment to freedom of speech while also advocating limitations on hate speech through community controls, such as Twitter’s adjacency controls. He described Twitter’s new content enforcement policy as focusing on “freedom of speech, not reach,” meaning that while people should be allowed to express their opinions, even if they are hateful, they shouldn’t be given a megaphone to amplify their views. By striking a balance between free speech and responsible content sharing, Musk envisions a more responsible and democratic platform for public discourse.

So what does the Yoof team think about Musk’s ideas?

While appreciating the potential benefits of decentralising news and empowering citizen journalism, it’s essential to consider the challenges that come with such a shift. The democratisation of news drives an increased risk of misinformation and the spread of unverified or biased content. Traditional media brands have rigorous editorial standards and fact-checking processes that help achieve the accuracy and reliability of the information they publish, although they still choose what to publish. Consequently, we are both intrigued and cautious about Musk’s vision, as striking the right balance between decentralisation and journalistic integrity will be crucial for the successful evolution of the news landscape.

Musk’s vision paints a picture of an evolving journalistic landscape that empowers the public to shape the narratives that affect their lives. As media owners and top-level managers navigate this landscape, they should take note of Musk’s insights and embrace the opportunities presented by citizen journalism, decentralised news, and a more responsible approach to content sharing.

And here is our question…

Martynas Vanagas Yoof Agency – Elon, you’re saying Twitter is where we’re gonna be getting our information from now on or social media. Is this the end of centralised publishers and news media and we’re going into a decentralised information era?

Elon Musk – That’s a good observation. so, you know, citizen journalism is essentially decentralised news.

Now, if somebody is a great writer for the New York Times or Washington Post or wherever, they will still gain a significant following as a function of their excellent content.

So, somebody who is an excellent writer will still get disproportionate attention.

But I think it is also important for us to decentralise what is written, and what narratives are chosen. Because even if everything in newspapers is 100% correct, they are still choosing what to write about, they’re choosing the narrative.

So I think it’s important for the public to be able to choose narrative as well.

So it’s not really that traditional publications go away, but really, that we enable the voice of the people to rise.