IT’S A BRAVE person who would try to predict the direction of journalism in an online world. That was the introductory remark of one of four media figures who spoke this week on news journalism and the internet at a conference in Dublin.
The Institute of International and European Affairs hosted the presentations which explored the business and journalistic challenges facing news outlets as consumers of news go online in search of stories and information.
What follows here is a brief introduction to each of the speakers at that conference to give you a sense of some of the questions raised. Each speaker has kindly provided the text of their speech/presentation so that you can read in full by clicking on the links provided.
Noel Curran, Director General of RTÉ, spoke of the large part of his day which he spends trying to figure out how to make RTÉ work as a business model. While he referred to the challenges posed by recent “editorial mistakes” and “rapid technological changes”, Curran said that he felt the uncertain time faced by all media is also an exciting one.
He said that RTÉ would need to take several approaches to the challenge – constant innovation, increased multi-skilling of staff, more flexibility in news delivery, sharing of RTÉ content with other outlets and monetisation of its digital products.
To preserve the broadcaster’s journalistic integrity, Curran said RTÉ would have to repair any trust issues the country has with RTÉ as “quality and trust” becomes increasingly important in a crowded internet market. He said:
I would argue that far from being diminished, professional high quality journalism, and public service journalism in particular, has rarely been more relevant or more necessary than it is today.
Kevin O’Sullivan, Editor of The Irish Times, spoke of his own outlet’s embracing of the consumption of news through digital platforms. He said:
Through our various digital platforms we are in the process of transforming operations to serve a growing, discerning online audience. The old hierarchical model of ‘we will tell you the news’ is over.
We are becoming a telling presence within the realm of social networking – acknowledging the new power of individuals and ‘the new plasticity of info’.
Brian Fallon, CEO and co-founder of TheJournal.ie, presented his thoughts in a slideshow presentation which you can see by clicking here.
He said that he was “optimistic” about the future of journalism in the online news world, citing the move online of both news consumers and the admittedly slowly-growing spend of advertisers online.
However, he estimated that the future revenue from online advertising and some subscription models will increase, allowing online newsrooms to expand. He also cited the flexibility afforded by online for open and collaborative journalism, by new multimedia tools through which stories can be told in new ways and the engagement of the online audience with social and mobile media.
Changes in public policy are vital to assist the transition online, he argued, saying defamation reform for user-generated content is needed. He also argued for more open access for journalists to courts, government data sources and RTÉ.
Ann O’Dea, CEO of SiliconRepublic.com, said she believed that “high quality reportage may turn up in places we might not expect”, in reference to the Huffington Post website’s first Pulitzer win for journalism last year. She highlighted the need for news businesses to adapt their products to a move online:
Management has a huge responsibility here in my view. The survival of quality journalism will depend greatly on management’s ability to adapt their business models, to constantly learn and embrace new platforms and new technologies.
Alternatively, you can watch the presentations on video: