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What exactly is a journalist?

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Presentation to Masters students at Xavier Institute of Communication, Mumbai

Presentation to Masters students at Xavier Institute of Communication, Mumbai


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  • 1. If anyone can publish, what exactly is a journalist?
    George Brock
    Professor and Head of Journalism
    City University London
    St Xavier’s Institute of Communication, Mumbai
    March 2011
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    1
  • 2. When were these shown and what did they show?
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    2
    2008
    1976
  • 3. Where did journalism come from?
    In Europe, fusion of two things:
    Commercially useful information
    Coffee house opinion in print
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    3
  • 4. Mixture of elements
    New facts
    Judgement
    Selection
    All these make journalism a field of fire, never uncontroversial, always in dispute
    There is no “just the facts” version
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    4
  • 5. Journalism is often in upheaval
    E.g. Libération, Paris
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    5
  • 6. Why upheaval right now?
    Print isn’t king an more
    But that`s not all down to the internet
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    6
  • 7. Causes of turbulence
    Loss of trust
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    7
  • 8. Causes of turbulence
    Fragmentation (not conglomeration)
    UK, 1960: 8 national daily papers, 3 radio stations, 1 TV channel
    UK, 2010: 9 national dailies, hundreds of radio stations and TV channels, millions of websites
    Audiences for main TV evening news bulletins have fallen by 50% over 20 years
    “Doing more with less” = Falling perception of value
    Fragmentation strengthens PR and makes “churnalism” more likely
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    8
  • 9. Persistent erosion in circulation (7,5% in 2010)
    Newspaper division only accounts for 14% of the revenue
    Since 2004, for each dollar added to online revenue, the paper lost $5 on print
    Kaplan Education division accounts for 62%
    Newsweek merges (in desperation) with the Daily Beast
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    9
  • 10. Causes of turbulence
    Washington Post:
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    10
  • 11. The crisis of daily print in the UK/US
    1985 – 05: 405 regional and local papers close, around a quarter of the total
    Birmingham Evening Mail: loses 54% of circulation 1995-2008
    In 12 months to March 09, UK government became the country’s biggest print advertiser, outspending Procter & Gamble
    Pew 2011: newsrooms 30% smaller than in 2000
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    11
  • 12. Another cause of turbulence
    Young readers drifting away
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    12
  • 13. The biggest change of all
    Scarcity to glut
    How long does the planet take to generate two exabytes of data?
    Comparison and overproduction
    Introducing the planet’s biggest news junkie…
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    13
  • 14. Khrishna Bharat’s insight
    “Usually, you see essentially the same approach taken by a thousand publications at the same time….Once something has been observed, nearly everyone says approximately the same thing….It makes you wonder, is there a better way?Why is it that a thousand people come up with approximately the same reading of matters?
    “Why couldn’t there be five readings? And meanwhile use that energy to observe something else, equally important, that is currently being neglected….I believe the news industry is finding that it will not be able to sustain producing highly similar articles.”
    (The Atlantic, May 2010)
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    14
  • 15. Crises have their uses
    Don’t buy the gloom
    Rahm Emmanuel’s reminder
    Why should journalism be important?
    To establish the truth of what matters to society
    Rebuild the justification
    Does defining journalism matter?
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    15
  • 16. To rebuild, you need a design
    Journalism four key functions:
    Verification
    Sense-making
    Eye-witness
    Investigation
    It’s a public service (= obligations)
    Ethics and training count
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    16
  • 17. Apply those four core functions to the Middle East
    Tunisia
    Verification, eye-witness
    Egypt
    Verification, sense-making, eye-witness
    Libya
    Verification, sense-making, eye-witness
    All will be followed by investigation
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    17
  • 18. Why have I said so much about print?
    I spent my life as a journalist in it
    The value and importance of words in new story-telling
    Harry Evans: using old in the new
    Journalism is vital to a “mixed economy” of ownership and regulation
    Journalism’s wild card (broadcasters bound)
    Rules are always under pressure and get broken
    Britain’s most recent parliamentary scandal
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    18
  • 19. Re-invention is happening
    Mobile wireless user-generated content dominates “first moment” sound and images
    Mobile dominates US local info consumption (Pew 2011: 47%)
    Best stuff is at grassroots outside capitals
    Verification is the crucial interface with public
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    19
  • 20. Values in an international context
    Mid-East
    • BBC
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    20
  • 21. How does Indian journalism do?
    You will be setting the standards for this part of the world
    Is power held to account?
    Are the standards right?
    Is the training right?
    “You can buy editorial.”
    Is this right?
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    21
  • 22. Keep this is mind
    It isn’t just a business
    Don’t let platform get in the way of content
    But journalists have to think about the biz
    But there is in many places a crisis about creating value
    It may strike here (rolling waves of disruption)
    They will need you to help
    Do it as if it matters
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    22
  • 23. www.georgebrock.net
    @georgeprof
    www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    City University London www.city.ac.uk/journalism
    23