Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cyber Age Editors Must Keep Our Trust; MEDIA

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cyber Age Editors Must Keep Our Trust; MEDIA

Article excerpt


EDITORS of newspapers across Britain are engaged in a bragging contest about who is using the most upto-date, state-of-the-art, bells-and-whistles digital gimmickry.

From the nationals to the smallest local weeklies, there appears to be a belief that the transformation of newspaper reporters into podcasters, vodcasters, bloggers and texters is A Good Thing.

I could sense the enthusiasm of the editors of the Hull Daily Mail, Lancashire Evening Post and the Newbury Weekly News as they described their new newsgathering operations to the Society of Editors conference in Glasgow at the weekend.

They showed us the videos. They provided examples of their audio broadcasts.

They spoke with great pride of their websites, offering an array of statistics and pointing to the increasing reach of their journalism.

They were thrilled with their multiskilled journalists. All the old demarcation lines have collapsed between print and broadcasting, between writer and photographer, between reporter and sub-editor.

Even more revolutionary, of course, is the discovery that stories, pictures and film can be provided by non-journalists. The Sun is appealing for its readers to report on its behalf, as is Five's news division.

I mean no disrespect to the editors who are engaging so eagerly with the digital age, but I must register my unease at their sudden cyber-infected exhilaration.

A giant newsroom based around a hub may be fine. A journalist's ability to both write a report and film an interview shows enterprise. The capability to give website viewers a glimpse of newsworthy CCTV footage or show a comely fashion writer trying on a variety of bras (as The Daily Telegraph did the other week) will obviously gain attention.

This may be the future. But the danger is that this new-found excitement at delivering editorial content is diverting editors and their staffs from the main reason we exist.

Though I'm all for giving the public news through a variety of platforms, we must not allow ourselves to get hung up on how the news is delivered. …

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