What exactly is a journalist?

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Presentation to Masters students at Xavier Institute of Communication, Mumbai

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What exactly is a journalist?

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

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