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Emily Bell answers questions from Columbia University journalism students

October 20th, 2010Posted by in Journalism, Online Journalism, Training

Former digital director at Guardian News and Media Emily Bell gives some great answers to questions from students at Columbia University, where she is now director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism.

The video is available at this link (no embed available unfortunately) and features answers on paying for news online (“Charging for news is incredibly expensive”) and journalists’ need for business savvy (“Every reporter should understand what the options are as to how you tell a story and how much do those options cost”).

Last night Bell helped to officially open the Tow Center with a speech that is well worth reading in full and is available on her blog.

Online journalism needs to be “of the web” not “for the web; journalism in the future must have a better understanding of the processes and business underwriting it and journalists must build relevancy and trust, she says.

In rebuilding – or rebooting – journalism, digital technologies are central to the solution, and not as many would have them, the source of the problem.As journalists, facing our own “Wapping moment”, we must examine some of the foundation stones of journalism and build better. We can acknowledge and perpetuate what is good about the best of our craft, but there is in truth so much opportunity to improve. We do not want to sustain parts of the business that need not a new model, but a sledgehammer. When we rebuild journalism we want it to be a more diverse and inclusive than the parts of the profession we have all at some point worked for. A rebuilt journalism has to hold power to account, but be accountable and transparent itself.

Rebuilt journalism has to be sustainable and not carry with it the extraordinary and untenable fixed costs of the past. It has to understand how to uphold free speech and tell stories in a world where protecting sources is evermore complicated. Rebuilt journalism has to use new ways to re-engage a generation alienated by old formats and for who screen-based portable devices bring the world to them. It has to live in a world of scarcer resource by understanding how to create production efficiencies, and measuring and understanding the impact of its output.

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