Archive for the ‘Reuters’ tag

What media can learn from academia

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Emerging from what feels like an endless series of consultations, conferences and conversations about the ‘future of news’ the one thing I’m now sure about is that people think things are changing an awful lot. Which means, whether they are or not (and I confess to being one of those who thinks they are), they will because enough people think they are.

One of the positive spin-offs of this revolution is a newfound curiosity within the media for academia. Historically people working in media think they have about as much to learn from academia as a car mechanic from a nuclear physicist. But now, because things are changing so quickly, talking to people who think for a living suddenly seems quite sensible.

Indeed Anne Spackman, editor-in-chief of Times Online, looked pleased but slightly astonished at how much she had learnt from her conversations with the academic advisory committee prior to her participation in Goldsmith’s Future of News Conference on Saturday. ‘It’s clear we have alot to learn from one another’, she said, and I don’t think she was just being polite.

The technical stuff is the most obvious. Students emerging from university or journalism school are now almost certain to have greater technical skills and knowledge than the generation above them.

But there’s also alot of sociological knowledge that can help news organisations – seeing how news production and consumption is changing in other countries, understanding the uptake and usage patterns of new technologies, and thinking about how social networks affect communication of news .

Some news organisations, like Reuters, have realised this and invested in academic centres to increase understanding (Reuters Institute for Study of Journalism). Others, like Sky, have dipped their toe in the water (Sky is funding PhD research into citizen journalism).

You never know, maybe DMGT, Trinity Mirror, the Telegraph or even News International might decide a little more thinking about the future would be a good thing and stick their hand in their pocket.

Written by Martin Moore

November 26th, 2007 at 1:50 pm

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Media mea culpas – get used to it

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This is not the end of embarrassing apologies and discoveries of mistakes and deceptions at big media organisations, it’s the beginning.

I’ve spent the last few weeks researching an article about news coverage of Israel / Palestine. Or rather, I’ve been researching the coverage of the coverage – the remarkable growth of people and organisations who spend their time scrutinizing the news for signs of bias or inaccuracy. Staring at photographs to see if they’ve been manipulated. Dissecting raw TV footage for any evidence it may have been faked or staged.

I mention this because it has relevance to the situation the BBC finds itself in. Not just the BBC but all mainstream media organisations that aspire to be fair, honest and balanced. Coverage of Israel Palestine is like the canary in the mine, the testbed for what the future holds. And let me tell you now, it ain’t pretty.

If the assessment and criticism about coverage of Israel/Palestine is anything to go by, big media organisations will have to expect their output to be searched, scoured, seived, sifted, studied and generally scrutinized ad infinitum.

Although there is little substance in alot of what the media monitors and the bloggers find, occasionally they turn up real howlers. Like the Reuters’ photographs that had been deliberately photoshopped to make the Israeli bombing of Beirut look worse than it was.

But the answer is not to sink into some sort of metaphysical crisis. The answer is to become more transparent and more accountable. Pull back the curtain, show people what’s happening backstage. Give them the raw footage, tell them the standards by which programme makers expect the programme to be judged. And if it doesn’t live up to those standards, accept the consequences. Not only that but let people respond, give them the means to complain, to applaud, to critique, to vent. Hell, give them the tools to make it themselves.

The democratisation of media shouldn’t be seen as some sort of barbarians at the gate moment, after which the old media giants get torn down and over-run. But it does signify a fundamental shift in power and responsibility, and those media organisations that don’t recognise that, and react to it, will feel increasingly beseiged.

Written by Martin Moore

July 18th, 2007 at 8:46 pm

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Media figures still in the dark about future

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The more I read about predictions for the future of media by senior media figures, the more apparent it becomes how few of them have any clue where things are going.
Two recent reports, one from the World Editors’ Forum & Reuters, the other by Accenture, illustrate this in spades. The first, based on interviews with ’435 of the world’s editors-in-chief, deputy editors and senior news executives’ (from Roy Greenslade), suggests many of them have given up worrying and are now adopting a Panglossian view. 85% appear to agree with Voltaire’s character that ‘All is for the best in this the best of all possible worlds’ (i.e. that they will enjoy a bright future). 50% believe that journalistic quality will improve over the next 10 years. And 75% see increased interactivity with readers as a positive development for quality journalism.
The second report is less sanguine. Amongst other findings it picks up, and contradicts, this last point. Accenture interviewed 110 media executives in the US and Europe. The biggest challenge, 57% of them said, was how to deal with user generated content. “To succeed in this environment,” Universal Studios’ Doug Neil said, “you need to innovate and anticipate the needs of the consumer, be willing to take risks and try new things.” Take a punt, in other words.
Accenture themselves appear to be equally clueless about the direction of media. Gavin Mann, one of the authors of the report, informs us that: “Traditional, established content providers will have to adapt and develop new business and monetization models in order to keep revenue streams flowing. The key to success will be identifying new forms of content that can complement their traditional strengths.” New business models? New forms of complementary content? They needn’t have done 110 interviews to learn that.

Written by Martin Moore

April 17th, 2007 at 12:33 pm

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