Arnab Goswami, managing director for Republic TV in New Delhi, spoke at the South Asia News Media Conference about how journalistic neutrality has changed over the past decade. “It’s become more transparent now. It’s become more opinionated, which is good, because when you’re faced with facts, you necessarily have to take an opinion.”

Goswami says that journalists had been hesitant to form an opinion in the past because it could be seen as crossing a line in journalistic ethics. With today’s digital media, however, that has become impossible — and in particular, younger generations are embracing opinion as a way to fight battles between right and wrong.

“I think the whole idea of neutrality, which is sometimes actually fence-sitting, has died now; and a new transparent opinionated media has come in.”

When asked the question of why neutrality is important, Goswami responds that it isn’t: “All that you need to be, is to be neutral to your own soul.” In explaining this further, he says the journalist must not be motivated by money, agendas, lobbyists, or political parties. “As long as you’re clear of all these, you don’t need your definition of neutrality to be fed to you by anyone else. We are an ideals-driven business, and what we’re attempting at Republic is to go back to that.”

What does Goswami was think will happen to journalistic neutrality in the next five years?

“In the era of user-generated content, where inevitably many of the sources of news we have … are generated by people rather than by reporters,” news organisations become more of a curator of this content, rather than creating it.

“It becomes a question of choosing which story to pick,” Goswami says. “Therefore, in the future, news organisations will be taking tons of user-generated content. We’re going to have to go through a more authentic process of verification of facts.”

This fact-checking will become increasingly important to weed out the difference between fake news and real news.