Inaugural Symposium: The Futures of the News


Saturday 24 November 2007

Lecture Theatre, Ben Pimlott Building, Goldsmiths, University of London

New communication technologies present several challenges to the role of the journalist in society. The functions of inquiry, observation, research, editing, and writing have had to adapt to the vast array of information available on-line, digital video footage, wire photos, amateur pictures taken with camera-enabled cell phones or digital cameras, the blogosphere, personal-public platforms that turn all users into accessible news sources such as MySpace and YouTube, as well as the speed of 24/7 cable news. The nature and processes of news have responded to this new technological mediascape in various ways. It is claimed that the speed of reporting and deadline pressure has increased dramatically, along with an expansion in the scope of available news sources and the temptation of digital dumping with the recycling of old material into new copy resulting in a move away from in-depth analysis.

Claims are also made concerning the democratization of news with a new mode of civic journalism emerging as citizens seek to present their own accounts on-line accelerating a shift of power away from traditional voices of authority in journalism and politics. By ridding journalists of the top-down hierarchy and professional/normalised values that come from the learned routines the internet is claimed to change the institution of news. The reportorial act of data collection is dispersed, with data collection potentially taking place at any node on the net, editorial control is diminished. The network of news is fragmented, participatory, non-hierarchical and de-centred. These debates are concerned with the role of the news in democratic societies and raise some of the most urgent challenges we face in defining the public interest in the Information Age.

To discuss these issues and others this event brought together leading figures in the news industry with acclaimed academics, political bloggers, and journalists including Martin Turner (Head of Operations, BBC Newsgathering), Michael Schudson (Columbia University and University of California, San Diego), Annabelle Sreberny (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), Michael White (The Guardian), Alex Hilton (Recess Monkey and LabourHome), Nicola Liscutin (Birkbeck College, University of London), Paul Staines (Guido Fawkes), 'Anne Spackman (Editor-in-Chief, Times Online), John Glover (Senior Programme Executive, Ofcom), Nicholas Jones (Freelance Journalist/Author), and, from Goldsmiths, James Curran, Natalie Fenton, Peter Lee-Wright, Aeron Davis, and Tamara Witschge.

Download the full programme [futures_of_the_news_symposium_2007].

Papers and presentions

Anne Spackman (Editor-in-Chief, Times Online), 'The Ten Most Discussed Topics at Times Online' [spackman_timesonline]

John Glover (Senior Programme Executive, Ofcom), 'Good News, Bad News - New News, Future News' [John_Glover_news]