MediaFile

The future of journalism in the UK

By Mark Thompson
The opinions discussed are his own.

In the UK we are going through an unprecedented crisis in journalism, a crisis with the boundaries and techniques of investigative journalism at its heart.

We don’t yet know what will emerge from this crisis and from Lord Leveson’s Inquiry, but any recommendations about new laws or regulation will be studied with interest by Governments around the world.

Before the phone-hacking scandal, conventional wisdom suggested that traditional investigative journalism faced two threats:  the first economic, the second related to the impact of the internet and new forms of journalism and disclosure it has enabled.

The economic one is so familiar I won’t dwell on it for long.  It is that – in common with other forms of quality journalism – the deteriorating business models for newspapers, in the developed world at least, may not be able to support the cost of mounting often expensive and protracted investigations.

The commercial fundamentals may not be quite so challenging in the global broadcast arena, but here too pessimists would point to the pressure on commissioners and schedulers to focus on those genres which bring in the largest number of viewers and commercial impacts: here too, they would argue, investigative journalism is under threat.

from The Great Debate UK:

A social media vox populi experiment

IMG01877-20100318-1751The BBC World Service tested its capacity to produce large-scale social media events by hosting an ambitious global conversation in multiple languages from Shoreditch Town Hall in London on Thursday.

For the six-hour event, billed as "Superpower Nation Day", the public broadcaster used television, radio and the Web to connect with people around the world.

Contributors answered the question "Is the Internet a right or a luxury? by typing into a social media platform that used Google's translating tool to interpret comments.

from The Great Debate UK:

Rory Cellan-Jones on virtual democracy

Direct, real-time communication among politicians and the public through social media platforms is reshaping democracy and the news media, but questions remain about how the fabric of society might change as a result, argued a panel at an event hosted by the BBC on Tuesday evening at Westminster.

The Web provides a de-centralised opportunity for users to communicate from various points on the political-economic spectrum, but gatekeepers are emerging who try and curtail the dissemination of information they find objectionable, suggested panellist Aleks Krotoski, who recently completed work on the BBC series "Virtual Revolution".

"Innovative social-media platforms start off being interactive, but then they can become broadcast tools," cautioned Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's new digital election correspondent.

Wednesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories about the media industry:

Recession sends Americans to the Internet (Reuters)
S. John Tilak writes: “More than two-thirds of American adults — or 88 percent of U.S. Internet users — went online for help with recession-induced personal economic issues and to gather information on national economic problems, a study released on Wednesday said.”

BBC and Government Fall Out Over Financing Plan (NYT)
“The BBC and Britain’s Labour government, which has a history of support for the “Beeb,” have fallen out over a government plan to share some of the broadcaster’s £3.6 billion in public funding with its commercial television rivals,” writes Eric Pfanner.
Weisberg: Big news orgs have a stake in web-only papers not working (Economist.com|Romenesko) “Web advertising may well end up supporting big newsrooms if they can escape some of their legacy costs,” says Slate’s Jacob Weisberg. “The test I’d most like to see is of a well-financed, for-profit, web-only ‘newspaper’ with no printed version. The problem is that the leading news organizations have a stake in web-only newspapers not working because they will accelerate the decline of the large, if faltering businesses that revolve around print.”

USA Today introduces Newsdeck site for top headlines (Editors Weblogs)
“To give visitors another way to view the news, USA Today has introduced a site it calls Newsdeck that compiles the top headlines in an easy-to-read format. Users can scroll through stories in eight categories, including News, Money and Sports, with the ability to switch back and forth between the latest news and the most popular articles.,” writes Liz Webber.

from UK News:

How should money saved at the BBC be spent?

As part of its efforts to counter the bite of the economic downturn, the BBC is suspending bonuses and reviewing the pay scales of its executives. It is also set to reduce the amount it spends on talent.

The BBC is making the cuts in reaction to its dominant role during the recession compared with its struggling competitors, as well as to its own financial challenges, Michael Lyons, the head of the BBC Trust, said.

"There has been considerable disquiet in recent weeks about the salaries of top BBC staff," Lyons said.

Sniper-blogger grills Taiwan reporters

“Even Reuters’ Ralph Jennings — of whom I’ve been extremely critical for getting the story very wrong when it comes to Taiwan — tells us that ‘half a million’ attended the protest,” a blogger wrote in October after seeing the Reuters’s write-up of an opposition-led demonstration in Taipei against President Ma Ying-jeou.

China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan. Ma, Taiwan’s president, likes China. The opposition and the blogger don’t like either.

I poured a beer to celebrate because I had it right, up from a score of “lies” that the same blogger gave me on a story earlier that year.