Cardiff Journalism School is one of the world’s leading training grounds for journalists. It is also my old stomping ground, where I studied all the skills I thought I would need in my job as a television news reporter.
Now there’s a lot more than simply mastering the white balance of a PD150 (that’s what we used) and to celebrate 40 years of training the best in the industry (I can say that, admitting to being a little biased), on Friday October 15th, CJS looked to the future with an industry conference entitled “Tomorrow’s Journalists”.
Session 1: The Challenge of Convergence
The most important to lesson to come out of this session was that students need to have as many skills as possible and all should maintain an online presence. Employers are increasingly using this to view a prospective employee’s work and to assess their writing skills.
In a multi-media world, Pete Clifton, Head of Editorial Development in Multimedia Journalism at the BBC, said the key is to think about how you can tell stories on different platforms. Some treatments may not work in all platforms.
He brought up an example of a news timeline as a “new way of reporting”. This is the kind of webpage that is updated in real-time with an almost minute by minute account of a story. Correspondents can send a 160 character text to update it. This was used last week with the Chilean rescue. The page received 7million hits.
Peter Barron from Google also noted how US website Spot.US (http://spot.us/) fund their news. This is community-funded journalism where you contribute to the cost of the story and once the target has been reached, the story is reported on.
Session 2: Digital Spin and the 2010 election
Simon Lewis, former director of communications at Downing Street took to the stage and the audience, with a large number of former lobbyists present, unanimously agreed that the lobby system is outdated and needs modernizing.
He noted that there was no longer a sensible relationship with the press. There’s a sense that the lobby has the story in their mind that they want and everything else disappears. For example, when Brown went to US last year, they all wanted the story to be that Obama had snubbed the PM. That was the pre-narrative the lobby wanted to write, despite it not being the case.
Two very press-worthy comments came out of the discussion
1/ When he was Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, picked up the phone to Rupert Murdoch to complain about the one-sided coverage and in particular the impact it had on the war in Afghanistan.
2/ The Queen used to chair meetings on how to spin the royal family post-Diana. Imagine that!
Session 3: Does regional news have a future?
This was a very lively debate off the back of Jeremy Hunt’s plans for lots of hyperlocal sites.
For the most part, it was fairly pessimistic. Clive Jones (ITV/S4C) said that Hunt’s view was “ill thought out, ill-considered” and a “fantasy not a dream”.
He suggested the government should introduce extra PSB so companies can form alliances with newspapers, radio stations, etc. It would mean more funding for the much under resourced ITV. If this doesn’t happen, all news will end up coming from the BBC – “that is a danger”.
There was optimism from Alan Edmunds, editor of the Western Mail who said that he expects all his journalists do be able to do everything as they are working in multi-media.
The conference provided a look to how journalists will be working in the future and what demands they will face. They need to be multi-skilled but there are still specific set mediums that they will work in. Students should be encouraged to maintain an online presence with blogs to showcase their work. The importance is placed on creating your own opportunities, looking at video journalism and how content will be developed to fit different platforms.