Andrew Neil: 'It's never been a better time to be a journalist'

Andrew Neil has warned that the pace of technological change in
journalism is now such that "we are in the midst of a new Wapping".

He
told the Society of Editors conference: "The days are gone, or going,
when journalists spend a day preparing a story, file it before 6pm,
then disappear into the pub, in the confidence that the wonderful
machinery that is the British newspaper industry would get it to the
breakfast table of a grateful and expectant reader the next morning.

"In
the age of the internet and 24-hour television and radio news mean that
journalistic ethos will soon have your newspaper belly up and in the
graveyard."

But Neil also insisted "there has never been a better
time to be a journalist for those willing to grasp the opportunities
and not to be seduced by the siren voices of their superiors saying
that the old ways are the best".

He said: "There's never been a
better time to get your journalism out to more people, never a better
time to master the different platforms, never a better time to get your
journalism out not just to your town, region or country, but to the
world."

The journalist of the future, Neil said, will have more than one employer and become a brand in their own right.

"The
editors of the future who want to entice the best and the brightest
will have to cater for journalists who are brands in their own right
and who develop their brands across various platforms, not always for
you exclusively.

"The journalists of tomorrow will write for
newspapers, contribute to magazines and podcasts, work for TV
production companies and write their own blogs, because you wouldn't
give them a column � then they will sell the blog back to you at an
inflated price. "That's what Andrew Sullivan has just done with Time
Magazine.

"The days when journalists were wholly owned
subsidiaries of a single editor are coming to an end, and those who try
to run journalists that way will end up employing dummies and the best
and the brightest will have gone elsewhere."

Hitting back at the
notion that the newspaper industry is in "relentless decline", Neil
pointed to the "record and historic circulations" of the Mail titles,
the success of The Guardian and Observer Berliner-size relaunches and
the global online success of Guardian Unlimited.

He said: "The
Sunday Times has hardly been sunk by the web — it remains a formidable,
unstoppable supertanker, selling more copies today than it did during
my pre-internet editorship.

"The Times is also selling more
copies than ever before and also beginning to develop as an
international brand, because the combination of the web and the English
language allow British publications to tackle the world stage as never
before.

"The Economist is, of course, living proof of that. It's
the most successful magazine global brand in the world on and off the
web."

Speaking about Google's recent deal with broadcasters to
pay for some Youtube content, he said: "We allow Google to take our
content day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, which they
make billions of advertising dollars from, and we do not charge them a
penny for our hard-earned journalism. "It is time, I would suggest, for
a conversation with Google."

And Neil predicted that advertising
will quickly migrate online, because it is the media which people now
spend the most time on.

He said: "Be in no doubt, advertisers are
not stupid. Over time, and sooner than you think, the advertising
revenues will follow the eyeballs."

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