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The New New Journalism discussed at Innovation Forum last week

18th May 2008

In collaboration with the LSE Media Group and Innovation Forum Future Media series, POLIS will hold an event on the New new journalism, addressing the changing position of journalism in society and the new possibilities presented by technology and design with, Director of POLIS, Charlie Beckett speaking.
Outline

The roles of journalists and commentators is changing: driven by citizens' greater wariness of authority and the changing character of politics, and drawn by the new possibilities of networked digital media. The widely held belief that anyone can play these roles has riled some and brought new resolve to others, who have embraced blogging, mobile video, bookmark sharing, and now micro-blogging – along with all forms of user-contribution and -engagement. But how much has the product of publishers, broadcasters, and their hybrid relations, actually evolved, and to what extent have they seriously investigated and embraced the new possibilities?

At this event we will examine the changing role of the journalist in society; the new possibilities presented by technology and design; and the nature of the story in a dynamic medium. We will also consider how journalists and editors are researching and sharing information, and collaborating with and debating the people formerly known as the audience. And we hope to provide some pointers to the Fourth Estate on how it might better, and more ambitiously, engage with its future.

To this end we have brought together a smart group of thinkers and doers across the disciplines in the media sector to set the scene. However, the event will focus on informal debate and discussion, and the participation of attendees – you – will be critical. Please join us.
Panelists

    * Charlie Beckett, Founding Director, POLIS
    * Tessa Mayes, Campaigning investigative journalist
    * Bill Thompson, Journalist, commentator and technology critic
    * Julia Whitney, Head of Design & User Experience, Journalism, BBC Future Media & Technology

Chair

    * Nico Macdonald, Principal, Spy

Event statement by Charlie Beckett, POLIS

Tom Wolfe's New Journalism was essentially about a revolution in style rather than substance. I would argue that New Media, combined with other socio-economic forces, is going to reinvent journalism in a much more thorough-going way. Style will change but so will news gathering and news dissemination. And as journalism becomes more networked, the whole production process will change. Some of what we currently understand as journalism will look the same. Indeed, some 'Old Media' formats such as feature- length documentaries and non-fiction books are thriving amidst the new technologies.

But Polis research with media practitioners and the public into the future of news over the last two years indicates that journalism is undergoing a kind of revolution. Some of it will become radically 'disintermediated'. The journalist will disappear. But our research suggests that the bulk of the news media will hybridise into something called 'networked journalism'. It will still carry out the editing, filtering and packaging functions. It will still report, analyse and comment. But the whole production process will become much more open and participatory.

As the power shifts from the professional to the public this will challenge a whole range of journalistic assumptions about authority, impartiality, accuracy and quality. Instead of relying on a narrow concept of trust, the journalist will have create relevance. As the journalist's monopoly over news is shattered, the media will have to justify its social value in a free marketplace of data and ideas. The new journalist will be a network facilitator, a marketeer of meaning, a channeler of information flows.

Politicians must address a democratic deficit produced by long-term social shifts and the bankruptcy of the old model of political organisation. Likewise journalism must regain public attention. This is partly by changing style and formats, but underpinning it must be a change in the very relationship with the public and the idea of news itself.

Source: Innovation Forum

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