I was very lucky to be asked to write something on the digital campaign.
You can see my take on the use of Facebook here
Wrote a quick piece for HuffPo on the changing nature of London’s political landscape and the Evening Standard’s place in it.
On Tuesday I spoke to the BBC’s Helen Blaby about fake news and trust in journalism.
That’s no doubt correct. But it did somewhat overshadow what a terrific night it was for Channel 4 News; the team won programme of the year, Matt Frei picked up TV journalist of the year and Waad al-Kateab won a number of awards including Young Talent.
Despite recent changes to make the RTS a more level playing field and stop ITN’s domination of the categories through its multiple newsrooms, the awards still don’t recognise the contribution of digital to the success of news journalism.
I find that surprising and disappointing – as I said to Jon, although he was self-deprecating enough to laugh it off.
Still, with digital threatening TV’s audiences as never before, it’s surely sensible to celebrate TV newsrooms’ digital success. And perhaps phase out the ancient news technology award.
One final thought. While Tom Bradby won for Network Presenter of the Year, even as the reviews of the Nightly Show suggested the move of the news was a mistake, and the BBC won for Home Coverage with its series on prisons, this wasn’t a great year for the big bulletins.
The RTS has tried to increase the pool of jurors, including myself, but it would be a shame if the awards lost their sense of the industry awarding its peers because the independent jurors ended up voting for the shows they watch or appear on.
In Nations and Regions News, the category for which I was a juror, the broadcaster representatives still had a vote – unlike some of the more hard fought categories, such as Programme of the Year. I wonder if that is a better solution than only independents voting. Perhaps some more tweaks to the rules might be advisable.
It is a big job with responsibility for news and current affairs across multiple platforms.
She moves to Sky at a time of considerable change. Many of the old guard are moving on. Not just on-air talent such as Jeremy Thompson and Eammon Holmes but some of the most experienced backroom staff too.
Head of News, John Ryley, is clearly preparing for a future of on-demand digital news as well as a live streamed channel – perhaps no longer delivered on TV nor based in a studio.
Professor Richard Sambrook from Cardiff University has written persuasively about 24-hour rolling news being a product of newsgathering technology that now looks outdated. Even the most traditional 24-hour channels, such as Al Jazeera, are considering what post-TV news looks like.
As 24-hour news veteran, I still retain an affection for the form. But there’s no doubt that it cannot compete with the immediacy of digital news, even if there is still value in a live stream of content. It is hard to gear up to rolling coverage if you lack the platform and resources to produce it.
So I will wait with interest to see what Nicolotti’s Sky News will become – how she’ll balance innovation with maintenance of the existing product. And hopefully she’ll kill off the ruddy awful “The Pledge“.
During the past couple of months I have been developing and running a number of digital strategy workshops for emerging news leaders from across Africa and Asia.
Called Tomorrow’s News, the Thomson Reuters Foundation programme aims to help participants consider their next digital news steps by learning about the latest industry practice and academic research, and by creating a community who can support each other through the challenges ahead.
It’s been an enormous privilege to meet some of the creative and innovative journalists who’ve taken part and I’ve learnt a great deal about challenges they face in developing high quality digital news services.
From news services that tell the stories of India’s disempowered and dispossessed communities, to data journalism services that are finding new ways to report about Indonesia, to digital services using mobile technology to deliver east Africa’s farmers essential information – these are smart, innovative forms of media that will set the pace for the next phase of disruption.
Two final thoughts on all of this.
Firstly, a lot of the problems people are facing in newsrooms (or virtual newsrooms) around the world are similar. Persuading legacy media to embrace digital rather than tolerate it, going digital or social or mobile first, finding the right mix of skills and training. Or for digital native publishers, establishing a revenue model that’s robust enough to support future development.
And finally while we may be on a journey with digital transformation, the journey’s end has to be more than mere survival. There is real social importance in creating sustainable journalistic outlets that deliver high levels of public value through content. And I am confident that’s a goal to which these brilliant and creative journalists are committed.
After both this week’s attacks in Brussels and last November’s in Paris memes like this one started getting shared on Facebook and Twitter.
As you can see, it suggests double standards on the part of media in failing to report on ISIS attacks where the majority of victims are Muslims rather than westerners. And because of that, propagating a world-view that is Islamophobic.
As you can imagine journalists who cover world news find this infuriating.
After the Paris attacks, a lot of people claimed the western media hadn’t cared about the bombing of Beirut’s Shia neighbourhoods in the same week.
For journalists like Channel 4 News’s International Editor, Lindsey Hilsum the truth isn’t that it wasn’t covered but that the viewers and readers just aren’t interested. The Guardian’s James Lartey branded the temptation to stake out the moral high ground, by claiming to care more, Tragedy Hipsterism – his tweets on the subject Storifyed here.
Even a cursory examination of the facts presented in the graphic above shows it to be nonsense.
And so on.
The most laughably absurd claim here is that no-one headlined the 26th of June, 2015 Sousse hotel attack in Tunisia when 38 western tourists were murdered by a gunman. Not only does it run counter to the whole narrative of the meme but it’s also clearly fatuous – the story was covered everywhere.
So, why do people share this?
Many feel that it demonstrates an under-lying truth. That the western media cares less about the deaths of Muslims dying at the hands of ISIS than it does about westerners killed in cities closer to home.
That’s true. All news organisations report news that has greater proximity and relevance to its audience than news that doesn’t. It’s a well understood practice. When a crane collapsed at the Grand Mosque in Mecca last year, it was a more significant story in Arab media than it was in the west.
But that doesn’t mean the western media doesn’t report these stories at all.
The conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Libya have all been extensively covered – despite the enormous risks in doing so – and that coverage acknowledges the fact that these are conflicts where the vast majority of those dying are Muslims.
And at a time when news services such as Al Jazeera America are being pulled because they can’t build audiences for serious coverage of these issues, it’s a bit rich to blame the media for failing to report them.
It’s OK to question the news values of the western media. It’s OK to worry about the tone of coverage and whether it sets up an us versus them narrative. It’s OK to worry that there may be a blurring of lines between reporting and propaganda. We should question and critically engage with news.
But how about doing it on an honest, factual basis that acknowledges that people are dying to report the stories that no-one seems bothered about reading.