I’ve not posted much about journalism recently, leaving this blog to become pretty dominated by Spurs-related stuff. But discussions about two important issues to do with my trade are coming to a head so, with apologies to those new followers who simply wanted a regular dose of Spurs blogging, I’m going to be writing about them. Readers who did read my stuff on journalism may be pleased for a break in the football. One issue is that of payment for content – whether it’s desirable or even possible to sustain. The other, made more immediate because of Monday’s vote in Parliament, is media regulation. Continue reading →
It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the trade I’ve worked in since 1989 is the subject of quite a lot of attention and debate at the moment. The trouble with much of the debate is that it’s been conducted through the use of suffocating amounts of hyperbole, and that the positions taken are often code for other objectives and ambitions. This in turn is leading to a swirl of careless generalisation and accusation, amidst which some of the key issues are being lost. The lack of humility and apparent inability to acknowledge wrongdoing from parts of the media is, understandably in many cases, prompting the demand for punitive action from the public. But that opens up worrying possibilities. And there’s little acknowledgement that the vast majority of journalists have never and would never do the things that prompted the Leveson report, but who may yet be punished and restricted by blanket regulation. Continue reading →
I went to my first Hacks/Hackers event last night in London with colleague Helen Roxburgh. It was pretty packed out, mainly I guess because Simon Kelner was speaking about the Journalism Foundation. But BBC head of technology Rupert Brun, given the task of speaking first, also provided an entertaining and thought-provoking contribution on the future of audio. I would’ve liked to explore further the argument about whether, because people accept poorer quality in return for greater accessibility, that necessarily means they wouldn’t like better quality. It’s an issue which has a wider resonance.
Which leads to Simon Kelner’s contribution and a similar point. A few people said later on that they were underwhelmed by Kelener’s contribution, but to be fair he was invited to pitch the Foundation’s work and did just that. But he began by pushing a point of view that I’ve banged on about a fair bit on this blog. He said: “Anyone with a phone is now a journalist”. Helen asked, in what I’ll admit was a far less confrontational style than I would have, if in the light of this he could tell us what qualities he looked for in a journalist if “anyone” was now one. Continue reading →
I took a group of first-year students from UCA Farnham to The Den last night to watch Millwall beat Coventry 3-0. Millwall’s press officer Deano Standing kindly offered to host six students, and he gave the group a tour of the stadium and potted history of the club pitch side before the game began.
The experience seems to have gone down well, although I think the speed at which reports need to be written, edited and filed caught most of them by surprise. However much you say this in the classroom, it’s not until you put people in a real situation that the penny drops and this was invaluable experience.
There’s another trip coming up next week, courtesy of Brighton & Hove Albion. One of my former students from LCC is working in the press office there and the club have very kindly offered some places for the England under-19s game against Denmark next Thursday.
I’m always on the lookout for press box opportunities for any live sporting event, and UCA Farnham is keen to develop relationships with more sporting bodies, so contact me if you think you can help.
The row over what journalism is and how it should be conducted in modern times has led to a split in the World Editors Forum, with a number of board members breaking away to form the Global Editors Network. While this may all sound a bit Life of Brian, the new group’s manifesto makes refreshing reading, saying: “We are members of the same community, all driven by a journalistic imperative and a common goal: Content and Engagement First!” The full manifesto is linked below, but I’ve quoted some key points here too. Continue reading →
After I spent two days at Publishing Expo, here’s some stuff I get the impression the industry is now thinking. If you produce quality, interesting material, there’s a good chance people will buy it. If it’s original, genuine and authoritative, there’s an even better chance. It’s a good idea to get people to do what they are good at. Which also means investing in staff. Technology offers more opportunity to big business than it does to small business. But big business which doesn’t retain the agility of the small will suffer. Continue reading →
Working with the NUJ’s professional training department, I’ve designed a new type of course that we hope will address the needs of many existing journalists as well as be of interest to people coming into the business for the first time. While most of the union’s training programme aims to furnish delegates with a specific skill, this course aims to provide some space for media workers to consider best practice and identify what areas they need to develop their skills in. Continue reading →
Worsfield is right to castigate employers for seeing training as a cost rather than an investment, but that attitude is also tied up with the insistence that university courses must all lead directly to jobs. It’s popular to dismiss the ‘education for its own sake’ view as airy-fairy and – especially in these austere times – impractical. But failing to understand the difference between education and training leads to precisely the situation Worsfield outlines in which few benefit from what’s on offer in university courses.
There’s room for hope though, if more companies do what Incisive have done and start to invest in training. But this needs to happen on a much larger scale. That’s one of the reasons I think the NUJ Training department is such a success story and needs to be expanded.