(Not quite) The end of journalism

October 22, 2008

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

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The end of journalism?

October 11, 2008

Next weekend [17-18 October] I’m speaking at a conference in Luton with the dread-inducing title, The end of journalism? The question mark is probably the most encouraging symbol here. It signifies that it might no be the end.

The conference has been organised by journalism and media studies academics at the University of Bedfordshire and I was lucky enough to score a late invitation thanks to my new City University colleague, James. The conference organisers have outlined the purpose of the international gathering against the background of the commercial and confidence crisis now besetting the news industry globally.

The last few years have witnessed a fresh wave of claims for the potential of internet-based technologies to widen participation in the public sphere. This period has also witnessed a steady stream of jeremiads about the impact of user-generated content on professional journalism. This wide-reaching cultural debate takes places against the backdrop of the ongoing restructuring of the global news industries.  In some quarters these changes are regarded with deep suspicion whilst others see a bright future for the media. Central to arguments presented by both sides in this debate is the value of ‘journalistic’ function to wider society. [Conference blurb and agenda]

The conference title prompted me to do a Google search and there’s a couple of blog sites that also adopt the End of Journalism title, but without the comfort of the question mark.

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