Over the past weekend I was at a conference hosted by the University of Bedfordshire in Luton. The conference, of mainly journalism academics, was provocatively titled ‘The end of journalism?’ It turns out that the conference organisers were having a bit of fun with us.
Like all good journos (and former journos), they could not resist the punning headline. The ambiguity was at first lost on me. I assumed we were talking about the end of (as in the finish of), but Alec Charles and Gavin Stewart also had in mind the end of (as in the purpose of) journalism.
In this sense, they argued, bloggers and internet reporters could be seen as continuing a forceful and individualist culture of anti-authoritariansim that has motivated some of the best reportage for centuries.
So if we are not witnessing the end of journalism, at least we can be around for the birth (perhaps) of something new, but that also celebrates and continues the tradition of journalism into the digital age.
The problem with a conference like this (in fact almost all academic conferences) is that as a participant-observer, you only ever get to see and hear half of it. Parallel sessions allow the organisers to cram in more great papers, but audiences are then left with some difficult choices.
News workers are also today facing difficult choices. The most difficult is whether to embrace or resist the intrusion of digital technologies into the news production process. Is it true, as I once read somewhere, ‘Resistance is futile‘