There has probably never been a time in the past century when the journalism industry was not under siege from commercial pressures and new media (from radio to high-speed broadband). And there has probably also never been a time in that period when journalists have not harked back to an earlier halcyon age.
An early edition of Press Gazette from 1966 carries a piece by Reginald Foster in which he wrote nostalgically of his early days in Fleet Street – 40 years earlier. He recalled the Daily Mail reporters’ room at Carmelite House where, ‘A large coal fire in winter gave an atmosphere which cannot be caught in Fleet Street today.”
And when, ‘There were real boys in the taperoom. You could ring the bell and get tea, toast and marmalade, on a tray.”
He concluded: ‘There was more and less pressure, and one had more time to really ‘live’ with and develop a story.”
Plus Ã§a change, as they say.
As Press Gazette moves from weekly publication to monthly, with minute-by-minute breaking news online, it’s worth noting that probably the only constant in the 43 years of UK journalism it has chronicled is ‘change”.
And like the industry we cover, we too are changing fast.
But one thing that won’t change is Press Gazette’s mission, in whatever form it is published, to be devoted to the ‘problems, personalities and practice’of the craft of journalism – as founding editor Colin Valdar put it in issue one, and to chronicle the extraordinary exploits of the people who make up this profession – journalists.
Individuals who James Cameron described rather well in another early edition of Press Gazette as ‘rather hard-up, in a peculiarly well-off sort of way, and with very few illusions of authority… industrious, lazy, talkative, petulant, bothered, and introspective – in a permanent condition of what can only be called convivial anxiety”.