I felt nostalgic after a fellow traveler, Jason Gutierrez of The New York Times, shared a Facebook post about the death of newsrooms in the United States.

It was an opinion piece written by New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd who missed the raucous newsroom as technology and the pandemic changed journalism.

I shared Maureen’s longing for the old newsrooms when the click-clacking of typewriters and the humming of teletypes churning out news around the world were music to editors and reporters excited over breaking news.

The old newsroom I knew smelled of newsprint and ink. News desks were littered with cigarette butts and spilled coffee and beer.

I don’t know how editors and reporters concentrated on putting to bed a newspaper when editors bawled out crappy reporters on top of blaring radio and television sets.

At the end of the day, journalists shared bottles of beer at the nearby National Press Club or some watering hole where they shared gossip and discussed stories of the day.

At the People’s Journal newsroom where I started in the early 1980s, the lights went out after midnight but came back to life at 3 a.m. when the afternoon edition staff took over.

Nearly 40 years after I started as a police/crime reporter, the newsrooms are more sterile and quiet.

Most journalists work remotely. They often stare at computer screens alone at their homes, talking to fellow journalists and news sources through Zoom or streamyard.

But that’s not the real problem. Journalists have to urgently adapt to the changes on how journalism is done as technology keeps on evolving news gathering, writing, and reporting.

At a time when looking for background information takes endless trips to a newspaper morgue, and reporters dialed a news source through a rotary telephone and dictated news stories to the desk, news and information printed in newspapers were gospel truth.

In the 1970s, a Gallup survey showed that more than 70 percent of Americans trusted newspapers, radios and television.

In the Philippines, journalists were also respected and highly regarded for telling the truth.

But social media, using algorithms, changed that. The public trust on legacy media has dropped sharply.

In 2020, a Reuters Institute survey showed that the trust rating on legacy media in the Philippines declined to 27 percent, one of the lowest in the world and below the global average of 42 percent.

The same Reuters Institute survey also showed that more and more people are consuming news and information through their mobile phones, laptops and tablets.

They usually rely on social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Tiktok where there is widespread misinformation and disinformation.

Modern online disinformation exploits the attention-driven business model that powers most of the internet as we currently know it. Platforms like Google and Facebook make staggering amounts of money grabbing and capturing attention so they can show paid advertisements.

That attention is gamed using algorithms that measure what content we engage with and automatically show us more content like it.

The problem emerges when these algorithms automatically recommend and amplify our worst tendencies.

As humans, we evolved to respond more strongly to negative stimuli than positive ones.

Algorithms detect and reinforce that, selecting content that sends us down increasingly negative rabbit holes.

At the same time, this information ecosystem kills quality journalism as it removes advertising from newspapers and other legacy media.

Smaller and community-based newspapers and radio have been shutting down as audiences turn to social media on their mobile phones and laptops.

Big international news agencies were not immune.

Vice News was the recent victim as it was close to filing for bankruptcy.

Journalists are losing out to vloggers and social media influencers.

YouTubers are generating more revenues than journalists, putting them out of business.

Newsrooms are not only changing and dying. Journalists are also vanishing species.

Don’t let them disappear. On World Press Freedom day, let us support our journalists. Help fight disinformation and misinformation.

Let us defend press freedom and democracy. A sustainable and healthy democracy depends on a free press.