Journalism: What Next?

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Presentation on what's next in journalism at US j-schools March 2014

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Journalism: What Next?

  1. 1. Journalism: what next? George Brock Professor and Head of Journalism City University London March 2014
  2. 2. What links these men?
  3. 3. …with these?
  4. 4. Or with this…
  5. 5. New bits of journalism landscape • Jeff Bezos (Amazon + Washington Post) • Pierre Omidyar’s: Ebay + First Look news sites • Vox • Vice • Buzzfeed
  6. 6. Common denominators • New players without legacy • Serious money • Innovation via experiment • = re-invention • Not easy to embarrass
  7. 7. How this book came about
  8. 8. When you hear people moaning about the future of journalism, remember… • Journalism’s history was mostly like this: messy, experimental, improvisational and – quite often – not at all serious. • People working in mainstream, established newsrooms often don’t see what’s going on at the grassroots.
  9. 9. Late 20th century was unusual • Plenty of advertising in print • So much in 1990s they thought they needn’t worry about the internet any time soon • Plenty of advertising in network (terrestrial) TV • This produced a stability which persuaded journalists that they had always worked in a well-resourced environment
  10. 10. UK national daily and Sunday newspaper circulation 1950-2000
  11. 11. • Words + pix • Reading/watching habits will change because people are on the move • Open sourcing • User/reader’s frame of reference is wider because of instant comparison • Data comes alive News media re-invent where digital creates news possibilities
  12. 12. There’s a pattern here • Disruption • …is followed by regeneration • But not always immediately • And in the gap between newsrooms close and jobs are lost • People always notice the loss before the regeneration
  13. 13. Stop worrying and enjoy digital • Be clear about what journalism is for • 4 tasks which still require skill and practice: – Verification – Sense-making – Eye-witness – Investigation
  14. 14. What could still go wrong • Words are needed for ideas at length • Local/hyperlocal: very hard • TV hasn’t yet hit its digital crunch • Metadata: already very dangerous (particularly to journalists)
  15. 15. Remember what “experiment” means • Most fail • What happens is not what is predicted • Even if it is predicted, it won’t happen on schedule • Established companies and organisations are at a disadvantage • Experiments produce winners and winners get bigger • Look at history: this is what happened in the past
  16. 16. What will distinguish winners? • They have ideas about what journalism is for • Lean and mean • They scale carefully • Pragmatic, flexible and confident with back-end tech • Combine aggregation and origination • They organise for high-quality experiment • That usually means very good tech back end + data
  17. 17. •THESE are the companies to work for
  18. 18. • @georgeprof • www.georgebrock.net • www.city.ac.uk/journalism

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