Three academic papers with ‘possible solutions’ for the industry crisis were used to inform Ofcom’s review of local media, published yesterday. In its review Ofcom warned that the ITV network will be facing a loss of up to £64m a year by 2012, if it has to continue providing regional news bulletins.
The RISJ authors’ suggestions for protecting the diversity of regional news included forming government news trusts, a press subsidy system and more government and regulatory intervention.
‘Navigating the crisis in local and regional news’ by Dr Andrew Currah examines the current crisis and new systems of support, and charitable and other forms of organisation to support local news: PDF at this link.
‘Journalism, democracy and the public interest’ by Steven Barnett looks at regulatory approaches to local media ownership and their role in achieving public interest objectives. PDF at this link.
‘Press subsidies and local news: the Swedish case’ by Karl-Erik Gustafsson, Henrik Ornebring and David A L Levy examines the current system of press subsidies that operates in Sweden which has underwritten the plurality of news supply, which characterises the Swedish local newspaper industry. PDF at this link.
Journalism will survive – but there’s no simple solution for how it gets there, or who is going to pay for it. That was the key message that underpinned the Future of Journalism conference at the Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media and Cultural studies last week.
Delegates from 42 countries gathered in the city to hear over 100 papers looking at the industry from a range of aspects:
New media technologies, blogs and UGC;
Sources; Ethics; Regulation; and Journalism practice;
Education, training and employment of journalists; History
Curran’s plenary focused on different views of the future: the survivalists, the new media romantics and those who believe there is a crisis of democracy afoot.
Being passive is not an option for the industry or academics, he argued. It is futile to try and predict the future: the focus should be on moulding and shaping the future where the two can work together to keep journalism alive.
Bettina Peters of the Global Forum for Media Development questioned whether it was appropriate to try and export business models from the developed world to the developing world. She discussed the need for collaboration between the northern and southern hemispheres. Journalism needs to be looking at mixed funding models, she said.
She too was concerned that journalists and educators needed to engage in a global discussion to share ideas and solutions and that the conversations shouldn’t just be about money or tools – two key strands of current industry discussion both on- and off-line.
Conference organiser Professor Bob Franklin, of the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, was keen to stress that this wasn’t an academic talking shop – but a key place where journalists and those studying journalism can get together to share research and ideas from around the globe, something crucial given the massive changes taking place in the industry.
His view was that the conference showed there is no single future for journalism. This was echoed in roundtable talks with journalism educators who were finding it difficult to determine what media organisations need, while journalists in the room stated that the media didn’t know what it wants.
Professor Franklin, like many others at the conference, believes the key to the future of journalism depends on the platform and location: while newspapers are in decline in Europe and America they are thriving in India, and there is a rise in daily tabloids in urban South Africa – with a thriving market in used copies of newspapers.
“The conference was about the future of journalism, and that future looks very different from where you are standing,” said Franklin. “We were talking about possibilities, not about sowing gems of wisdom. There is a future for journalism, but it is a very expansive future.”
Video: Professor Alfred Hermida on the Future of Journalism
The document [PDF] submitted to the Newspaper Association of America reveals the plans and is published by the NJL.
The Associated Press reports how IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp. and Google Inc. ‘responded to a request by the Newspaper Association of America for proposals on ways to easily, unobtrusively charge for news on the web,’ according to the report.
It’s the second biennial conference hosted by the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and held by the journals Journalism Studies and Journalism Practice. Its introduction notes:
“In these fast-moving times, journalism faces huge challenges and opportunities, although these are shaped, given additional impetus and direction, or slowed down by the distinctive journalism cultures and markets which prevail in different regions of the world.”
As one of its participants, Professor Alfred Hermida (the second of his sessions is ‘Twittering the news: the emergence of ambient journalism’) noted on his blog, there is also:
The booklet comes straight from a series of 15 blog posts, written as guidance to those who want to transform themselves into multimedia journalists. Her succinct guide includes tips on blogging, audio interviews, podcasts, photography, and video.
The all-party report led by former cabinet minister Alan Milburn, has triggered a nationwide debate on issues of social mobility and whether social class divides can be overcome to provide equal career opportunities to all. Journalists found their profession branded ‘one of the most exclusive middle-class professions’. The industry was urged to provide financial support to interns from less wealthy backgrounds and adopt a best practice code.
Media organisations were accused of recruiting trainee journalists for internships for as long as one year, without payment, as a means of filling staffing gaps instead of providing appropriate training. The unpaid placements automatically filtered out students to only those who could afford the experience, usually middle class ones, or those willing to incur massive debts.
The National Union of Journalists immediately welcomed the outcomes of the report and heralded the best practice code for internships as ‘a first step in tackling bogus work experience‘. The union has been campaigning for years against exploitation of work experience placements, proposing the payment of a minimum wage to students on training. Speaking in a release issued earlier in the week, the NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said that the report ‘shows how the use of unpaid internships has undermined the diversity of our profession’. “Too many employers see internships as a way of getting work done for free, without any thought towards their responsibilities to provide would-be journalists with a learning opportunity.”
In his Guardian blog, Roy Greenslade talked about his humble beginnings as a working-class journalist, alongside others of the same social class at regional newspapers until he was struck by the class divide between the middle-class broadsheets and the working-class tabloids in Fleet Street. Although boundaries are now less obvious between the papers, higher tuition fees at universities meant education was dearer, and less accessible. As journalism became increasingly popular in the 1990s, degree holders were preferred over school-leavers, starting the unfair selection process which favoured the middle class.
A report in 2006 by the Sutton Trust [PDF at this link] showed that more than half of editorial posts at leading national newspapers had been educated at private schools, that is to say, middle class. As middle-class senior editors tend to appoint others like themselves, birds of a different, less privileged feather cannot find a way into the flock.
The Milburn report also pointed out that ‘qualification inflation’ is a barrier towards equal social opportunities. If once an academic degree or an MA were considered desirable for a career in journalism, some people, such as Press Gazette’s Dominic Ponsford, believe it is not the case any more as theoretical courses often do not provide the practical skills needed in a ‘real’ newsroom.
There is recourse for students who could not afford the fast-track course: “Our course is accredited by the Learning and Skills Council, so students can apply for a career development loan (www.direct.gov.uk) or the Journalism Diversity Fund (www.journalismdiverstityfund.co.uk),” says O’Shea.
A lack of diversity in news media could pose a problem for journalism, says Charlie Beckett, director of the journalism think-tank Polis. “If the news media is not diverse then it will not reflect the wider population,” he says in his blog.
“At a time of crisis in the industry and the wider economy, that is not a good thing economically, let alone politically.”