I’m glad (and somewhat extremely relieved and shocked) that I received a conditional university place at City University London to study BA journalism. It is one the country’s elite universities for journalism and it isn’t everyday that you get the opportunity to get a clear and informative lecture from the (new) Head of Journalism George Brock.
The lecture in question, revolved around the question ‘is news over?’ A general outlook on the journalism and media industry would probably give you quick and direct answer of ‘yes’. From the tone of Professor Brock’s tone, it also seemed that ‘yes’ is certain. “Nearly” he says.
Radio, television and, of course, the combination of new, compact technology and the internet has led to an explosion of info worldwide (barring Africa and me parts of Asia) has led to news’ decline. Advertising revenue disinvest in print media and switched to web. The fact that business models come after release of start-ups also led to the downfall of news.
Interestingly, the golden age or peak for print journalism was in the 1920s then “downwards from there.” Yet Brock noted that newspapers briefly grew bigger in the 80s and 90s. Of course, the decline was still there and tabloids such as The Sun and The Daily Mirror circulation figures are “declining 3-5% annually” in a span of 12 years and The Sun’s sensationalised (oh wait, they always do that) switch from Labour to Conservative was probably a way to recoup the loss in readers in my view.
“Young consumers often say this: ‘if news is important enough, it will find me.’ ” As a young consumer and an observer myself, I find this sadly true. This “is another story in its self” Brock added.
Despite the uncertainty, Brock offered positivity. Hyperlocal websites “do work” and the internet’s possibilities allow journalists to combine video, audio and words to create new forms of journalism. Branding journalism is acceptable if restrained or balanced correctly e.g. selling football memorabilia if publication’s content is mainly related to football. Additionally, the possible prospect of losing the BBC if, God forbid, the Conservatives come into power is highly uncertain because it is an institution “that is loved….and it is a National Treasure.”
There are too many insightful things that Brock said tonight. With that said, I finish with a final bit tidbit: paywalls around content has an unknown fate but it is near certain to fail. A hybrid – some content free, some behind the wall – may work. Keep a close eye on May when The Times launch their paywall and thank God King’s Road steered well clear from that direction!
For more information, follow Heather Christie’s (who was at the lecture) Tweets.