Tag Archives: beat blogging

Can journalism survive in the digital era?

On Sunday the Edinburgh International Science Festival event ‘Journalism in the Digital Age: Trends, Tools and Technologies’ posed the question: Can journalism survive in the digital era?

There to address the issue were a panel of speakers from the worlds of journalism, academia and public relations, each of whom gave a five minute presentation followed by a brief Q&A.

Sarah Hartley, who oversees the Guardian’s new Beat Bloggers initiative, pointed out that people are “no longer happy to passively receive” information. She suggested that news organisations now have to accept that it is “the end of us and them”, and factor in audience interaction as an integral part of their workload. She also pointed out that creating web-specific content is essential rather than merely recycling print content on the web.

Kate Smith, media lecturer at Edinburgh’s Napier University spoke on the role of educational institutions in helping trainee journalists prepare for the future media environment and suggested that the basic principles and values of journalism should still be emphasised. Video games and PR expert Brian Baglow, who gave a presentation on citizen journalism, echoed her sentiment, assuring journalists that they had “skills and understanding that most bloggers don’t” and were still needed for their “expert investigation and analysis”.

Iain Hepburn, digital editor at the Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail shared his love of podcasting, praising the “intimacy” of audio and the “visceral appeal” of video. Hepburn went on to claim that affordable, easy to use products like Flip cameras were allowing journalists to make “documentary quality” films without any prior expertise, and described how a smartphone can now be used to cover events where previously several pieces of kit would have been necessary.

Finally, Martin Belam, information architect for Guardian.co.uk, took us through a potted history of journalism, beginning with the very early years, when “storytelling was concentrated in the hands of some monks”, to today’s world where even local newspapers such as The Belfast Telegraph can reach a global audience. He also spoke about the increasing demands on journalists for real-time coverage, the effect of social media/online pressure groups on news, and the potential of the semantic web.

It wasn’t until the Q&A session that the thorny issue of the industry’s financial future was raised, with one journalist in the audience asking: “How are we going to get paid? Mercedes don’t give away cars, but you are all giving away content everyday online.”

The panel had no concrete answers, but Rupert Murdoch’s new paywall model and Jeff Jarvis’ arguments in favour of a link economy were given serious consideration.

There was also some hope that a proven willingness to pay for mobile apps could lead to more substantial subscription based models for e-readers such as the iPad.

Milo McLaughlin is a freelance multimedia journalist specialising in arts and technology. He blogs at milomclaughlin.co.uk.

BeatBlogging.Org: ‘UK news regulation stands in the way of newsroom convergence’

I’ve provided a guest post for BeatBlogging.org, the US-based site that looks at how to use social networks and other web tools to improve beat reporting. Using examples from various Journalism.co.uk pieces, I argue that it is very difficult to look towards coverged newsroom, under the hybrid regulatory systems with which we operate as UK-based publishers. Thoughts welcomed.

Read it in full over at the site. Here’s an extract:

We talk about converging newsrooms of the future that transcend boundaries between online, print and broadcast, but at a very fundamental level that process is impossible in the United Kingdom.

Martin Belam, information architect for the Guardian, recently emphasized that point in an interview with Journalism.co.uk:

“In a converged media landscape, it seems odd that [BBC’s] Robert Peston’s blog is regulated by the BBC Trust, [Channel 4’s] Jon Snow’s blog is regulated by Ofcom, and [the Guardian’s] Roy Greenslade’s blog is regulated by the PCC.”

Now, Martin was actually wrong on the Jon Snow point: Ofcom does not regulate any television Web sites at all. That is to say, the brands which must adhere to a strict code for television content are completely unregulated online. Ofcom advises consumers to make complaints about online content to their Internet service provider.

The BBC Trust regulates the BBC online; the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) regulates newspapers, magazines and their online content.

And Stephen Fry, who – at the time of writing — is nearing half a million followers on Twitter? Or Guido Fawkes (aka Paul Staines) who has a loyal readership to rival most newspaper commentators? Well, they govern themselves – unless the law gets involved.

When the traditional media sectors go online, they’re regulated by their various bodies, and the ‘online-onlys’ only have the courts to worry about. Press publications have a less strict code than broadcasters, but online, broadcasters have more freedom than the press – though they don’t seem to be exercising it.

In a nutshell, a financial commentator from a newspaper has greater freedom than a financial commentator from a broadcaster, and an independent online-only financial commentator has the greatest freedom of all.

What happens when a bank crashes? Channel 4 and ITV can theoretically report how they like – online. The BBC must always answer to the BBC Trust. The newspapers must comply with the PCC code. Martin Lewis, of the MoneySaving Expert can, if he so chooses, be a law unto himself.

Same news and it’s all online but in very different guises. We might think people know the difference, but do they?

Full post at this link…