Retro - What it means to be human

By Daniel Nepgen Switch to German for original article

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The Lëtzebuerger Journal is already celebrating its second digital birthday. We have found our place in the media landscape, evolved and are ready for 2023. None of this would be possible without the people who tell us their experiences and perspectives. To mark the occasion, each team member looks back on a story that was particularly meaningful to them this year.

2022 will go down in history as the year that artificial intelligence ushered in the next paradigm shift in society. It is difficult to predict at this point in time in which areas the impact of AI will be greatest, but the workplace is one of them. We will have to get used to virtual assistants becoming more sophisticated and taking over many tasks, which will also change the way we interact with the digital world. In the process, these automation technologies will also turn our understanding of information acquisition and processing upside down.

Where does this leave the human being in this new world? And can journalism still hold its own as the flood of information and content that is piling up on people becomes ever greater? In my view, both questions will be even more closely linked in the AI world after 2022 than before. If journalism still wants to be relevant, it has to go deeper than just conveying basic information, it has to be more than just reporting. Why should anyone pay for information when it is available in abundance on the internet, and for free? With artificial intelligence, its processing becomes even easier and more efficient.

The new, digital Lëtzebuerger Journal has been committed to slow journalism since the beginning, in January 2021, and reports on hand-picked, relevant topics instead of pretending to offer quality through quantity. Inspiration for the human approach came from the Humans of New York project with its street portraits and stories drawn from real life. And it is precisely this philosophy that will be the key to remaining irreplaceable in a society dominated by AI with its endless loop of multimedia content. Nothing replaces an authentic account of experience with all its shades of grey. No machine can provide an account of a factual situation and incorporate human feelings and sensations to form an overarching conclusion. Journalism will have to become even more human. Let's leave the cold facts to artificial intelligence. The real deep dive, at the end of which lies true insight, belongs to us.

"For us, podcasting doesn't just mean pressing record, recording hours of conversations and then sending them off into digital nirvana as undigested audio nuggets."

But when it comes to packaging this content, we have to become more and more creative. Since most stimuli processed in the brain are of a visual nature, the sense of hearing is an important gateway to transmit information. The ear not only takes in this information in a very differentiated way, but is also extremely effective at it. At the Lëtzebuerger Journal, all content is also available as audio, in three languages. And we are trying to implement more and more topics and ideas in the form of dedicated podcast formats. For us, podcasting doesn't just mean pressing "record", recording hours of conversations and then sending them off into digital nirvana as undigested audio nuggets in the hope that someone will take the bait. Behind every concept is an idea and a preparation. And every production has its raison d'être.

Content director Lynn Warken came up with the idea of starting an interview format in the development phase of the digital Journal that didn't yet exist. Why not cross radio with streaming? In other words, mix talk with music and pick up people where they listen to their music anyway. The result was Hannert der Fassad on Spotify. In each episode, a person tells anecdotes and defining moments from their life using their favourite songs. Interview excerpts and songs alternate in a playlist. To date, 13 episodes have been created and more will follow.

You don't always have to reinvent the wheel. A change of tyres sometimes does the trick.