Friday, 15 January 2010
#newsrw: Throwing spaghetti at the wall
George Brock, head of journalism at City University, likened the news rewired conference at City yesterday to throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing which bits stick.
Brock launched the conference with a host of big questions like "How do you define a journalist?"; "Is there anything any longer we can call news?"; "How do you tell what's true?"; "What's more authoritative, a crowd or an expert?"
He also posed the question whether journalism schools could fill the gap in providing, local community news and suggested a "teaching hospital" model for journalism colleges.
Brock revealed that City is hoping to a host a conference looking at entrepreneurial journalism with delegates from the US giving examples of new business models that have worked in the States.
The buzz word of the conference was that journalists must become more "entrepreneurial". It reached a point where one journalist with more than 20 years' experience declared that he was "a hopeless entrepreneur" and asked the panel if he should quit journalism.
I thought there might be a Spartacus moment, with delegates standing up one by one and declaring: "I am a journalist, not an entrepreneur" but there was just the lone voice.
Encouragingly, there was much comment about the need for traditional journalism standards. Kevin Marsh, head of the BBC College of Journalism, spoke of the need for journalists to have the old skills, such as making contacts, getting them to speak and finding stories by digging in opaque documents, rather than mastering the latest multi-skill trend. "Don't think you have to hoover up every skill on offer," he said.
James Fryer of So.Glos.com said he agreed with predictions that the next decade will see a resurgence in the importance of high quality journalism.
Greg Hadfield, who has just left the Telegraph Media Group as director of digital development and has a track record as an internet entrepreneur, told delegates to "learn the skills of journalism but do it in an entrepreneurial way." His prediction: "The future is individual journalists not big media."
There is plenty of enterprise being shown in the rise of hyper-local sites like the Lichfield Blog but they are still labours of love rather then generating enough cash to employ journalists full time.
The new business model for journalism, it seems, is still under development, but there was plenty of food (or spaghetti) for thought at news rewired organised by journalism.co.uk.
Tomorrow I'm at the 'New Ways to Make Journalism Pay' conference at the NUJ. The search for the future of journalism goes on.