Hacked off over the future of the press.

Over the past two weeks I have attended two conferences held in Cardiff that discussed local and national journalism practises.

The first of these was on Saturday 19th Nov where I was invited by freelance journalist and lecturer, Joni Ayn to help with the live coverage of the ‘Future of the Press in Wales’.

My central role of the day was running and monitoring the live blog to keep tabs of the days discussion. It was a great experience, benefited by Krispe Cremes and Toblerones.

The aim of the debate was to come to a solution on how to come up with a better business model for the press in Wales. The day’s events didn’t reach a firm conclusion but there was plenty of discussion in the room and on Twitter.
Andy Williams, a media academic made some interesting points about the change in news consumption by saying:

“It’s not the internet, changing consumer habits that we can blame even though they do play a part. Greed and a bad business model are also to blame.”

There was great discussion on how to fund journalism now. Whether the industry needs to accept the pay-wall function (many say this is unreasonable for local newspapers in local towns) or resort to a donation scheme- where the readers donate to keep up the quality of the news. There was also discussion of taxing mobile phone companies to fund journalism.

Others to talk during the day were Rachel Howells (Cardiff School of Journalism), Martin Shipton (Western Mail- although speaking on a personal viewpoint), Bethan Jenkins AM (Plaid Cymru), John Osmond (Institute of Welsh Affairs), Ken Skates AM (Labour Party), Maire Messenger Davies, Duncan Higgitt (Wales Home), Stewart Kirkpatrick (Caledonian Mercury)- who joined the disscussion though Skype from Scotland and Ken Smith (Port Talbot Magnet).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although the day was fantastic for me in terms of extending my journalism skills, typing and contacts, I feel that because there was no certain outcome it showed the level of uncertainty that is generally felt within and outside the industry. It didn’t fill me with hope about job prospects- especially as I am graduating this year.

Watch some of the online videos of speakers and topics raised by the audience:
James Stewart
Bob Franklin
Maire Messenger Davies
Ken Smith
Bethan Jenkins

My second conference was on Thurs 24th Nov at Cardiff School of Journalism and focused on the Leveson Inquiry. It was called ‘Hacked Off: Reform, Regulation, Democracy and the Press. Review the live blog here or the Tweets here.

This was a particular area of interest for me as it is my chosen dissertation topic so I was very interested in what would be debated. The event was chaired by Bob Franklin and the speakers were:
Professor Ian Hargreaves, Chair of Digital Economy in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Cardiff Business School and former Financial Times Journalist, regulator, and political communicator, Bethan Jenkins AM, (Plaid Cymru), Martin Moore, (Director of the Media Standards Trust and Hacked Off campaign), Martin Shipton, (Western Mail- again speaking on personal terms),Rob Williams, (Online Sub Editor of the Independent speaking in a personal capacity) and Robert Andrews, (international editor of paidContent).

Andrews made a very interesting point about the Leveson Inquiry that is not often dwelled upon. Although criminal activity was committed by journalists at The News of the World, it is not often discussed how simple it was for them to do that.

He discussed the low level of security surrounding phone companies, voicemails and their customers. He said the situation was

‘like buying a house without a front door.’

Professor Ian Hargreaves described the significance of Leveson by saying ‘it was a once in a generation significance.’ After attending the first few hearings of Leveson, he had never seen so many editors in one room- showing how critical this hearing is to the industry never mind those directly involved. He discribed the journalists involved in the hacking as being

‘out of touch with feelings of basic human morality.’

Bethan Jenkins described the inquiry as revealing ‘daily jaw dropping dishonesty.’

He went on to suggest a statutory based regulator like Ofcom, (where he had had previous employment) and to construct a way of regulating the media without violating freedom of speech and the freedom of the press.

The debate was highly critical of the illegal activities that had taken place, the corruption that had been exposed between the press and the police and the danger zone this had placed journalism but I felt personally that there was not enough discussion on the issue of regulation, statutory or not and the PCC.

 

The two debates gave me plenty to think about,but I do not think they gave me many answers. Will their be a career path for me and my peers at the end of my degree? Will Welsh journalism die? Can anyone make money from online journalism apart from pay-walls? Is there another way of regulating the press? Has the PCC learnt its lesson or do we need a stronger PCC (PCC2)?
If I find out any of these, I’ll let you know…

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