Yesterday morning I was woken up by a text. Quite a normal occurrence so I rolled over and fumbled about with my terribly old Sony Ericsson to find out what one of my friends had to say. But wait, this was no ordinary text, the sense of urgency crept into my layer as I began to read, “Ruth. Rory Cellan – Jones. Birt Acres Lecture Theatre. 4.15pm. Be prompt.” That got my attention immediately and got me out of bed.
Having been off ill for a week, I was slightly daunted about returning to the world of Bute. My escape had lasted a while but now it was time to return – voice, or no voice.
As I strolled into the lecture theatre, I took up a place in the front row which I was sure to regret in a matter of moments. Oh joy – a photograph; a journalist’s dream. I thought part of the job description was that we get to be on the otherside of the camera, closely aligned to the photographer:
Rory Cellan – Jones told us to smile and wave; apparently I am one of the only ones that did.
So, what did he have in store for us new journalists of the future?
In awe of someone who has made it so far in the field of journalism I was very eager to learn about what Rory had to tell us about social media.
Claire Packer sums up Rory Cellan-Jones’s lecture very succinctly in her blog. And I agree with her that,
“contemporary journalism is undoubtedly a much slicker operation than the journalism of the 1980s.”
Rory went onto explain how modern journalists are multi-skilled and heavily involved with their audience. His blog now demands an increasing amount of his time.
Being proactive in developing his relationship with his audience gives Rory a credibility and an honesty that people at home can relate to, which is now increasingly important in modern journalism.
Rory commented on how nowadays, one of the scariest things for news editors is that the audiences have a say in what they think is the most important story. Their input has become as essential to a running order as the editor themselves. The audience demands news in a certain format, at a certain time and in a certain way.
To demonstrate this, I thought I would just do a quick comparison of the most read stories on a couple of reputable news websites to illustrate the power that the audience now has, compared to the “mad people” that 1980’s journalists used to interact with.
On the BBC at the time of publishing this post:
Today is Armistice Day, however the people of Britain are more interested in sharing information about “the perfect vagina.” I can’t imagine news editors of old ever entertaining such a thought. But if this is something the majority of the public wants from a public broadcasting service that “gives added value to the masses,” should it be?
Next, onto the Daily Mail -
Apart from the near to ridiculous headlines, people seem to be reading across a wide range of stories.
However, when we look at what people are reading in most detail we get a completely different story, which is not quite as pleasing but maybe more realistic.
The usual offenders are there: Katie Price, Li-Lo and Coleen. A slight whiff of adultery. And a tragic accident involving German goalkeeper, Robert Enke.
Read in most detail:
Surely there are more important things going on in the world today, such as Armistice Day and the plight of our soldiers worldwide and past, the food shortages in El Salvador, or the risk of cancer for 9/11 workers.
In a day where the user is the source, as well as the audience, perhaps it is not up to a journalist or even an editor to decide what is newsworthy.
Recently, Rupert Murdoch has unveiled a scheme to introduce paywalls to News Corp’s websites in order to generate revenue from the news. In his quest to make more money, does he really think that people will be willing to pay for their news, especially when the news they apparently want involves Coleen, and the quest for a perfect vagina. I doubt it.
As I was writing this post, one of my colleagues, Alex Smith kindly shared a link to a testimony given to a Senate Committee by the creator of The Wire, David Simon on the challenges facing journalism in the age of new media.
He said that,
“It is nice to get stuff for free, of course. And it is nice that more people can have their say in new media. And while some of our internet commentary is – as with any unchallenged and unedited intellectual effort – rampantly ideological, ridiculously inaccurate and occasionally juvenile, some of it is also quite good, even original.”
More than anything I think that journalism needs to get its self respect back. It needs to be valued. It needs to be trusted and it needs to be respected by its audiences.
If the public thinks that anyone can be a journalist, then we need to prove to the public that this is false.
What we don’t need, is this: