Bloggers 'have their tanks on our lawn'

News International
boss Les Hinton urged editors to embrace technology and warned that
bloggers have their “tanks on the lawn” of the traditional press.

But,
delivering the annual society of editors lecture, the executive
chairman of The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and the News of the
World insisted that newsprint has a long-term future.

He said:
“In spite of the explosion of alternative sources of news, information
and entertainment, newspapers in one form or another can still reach
eight out of 10 people in the country.

“If we are doomed, we are
certainly building ourselves some very expensive coffins. Across the
national newspaper industry alone, close to £1bn is being spent on
upgrading presses.”

The Sun began running daily video news
bulletins on its website this year and Hinton believes this sort of
innovation signals the way forward.

He said: “Citizen blogs are
stealing audiences, or at least audience time, their tanks are on our
lawns and this confident, brave new world requires new disciplines and
skills.

“I learned in the last year about something called search
engine optimisiation; the 21st century version of where your newspaper
is displayed in the local newsagent.

“Today’s pioneering
journalists are already doing it all – words, audio and video. It’s the
way of the future if newspapers plan to survive and thrive in all these
emerging platforms.”

At the same time as innovating
technologically, Hinton called on editors to uphold journalistic ethics
as their best weapon against the thousands of amateur internet
reporters.

He said: “The more things change the more they will
stay the same. While the process of supplying news may evolve the
standards and values that we aspire to must never change. Perhaps it
matters more than ever.

“In the end, trust and responsibility are
what will count for us above all. It is the trust people place in
wellknown news brands that we must foster and encourage.

“I don’t
believe that means losing the exuberance and mischief of the popular
tabloids or the powerful, controversial stands that they take on
political and social issues.”

He added: “In this 21st century avalanche of media people have never been so bombarded with information.

They
trust us to provide understanding and context. In this new world of
universal citizen journalism we must be the experts on all relevant
platforms in getting it right and being reliable “When it comes to
trust, many journalists rank with car salesmen and estate agents. We
have always seen ourselves as an industry of sceptics – that’s a good
and powerful thing.

“But are too many of us becoming cynics?
We’ve just had an election that appeared to hold as much interest for
our readers as the Tokyo telephone directory.

“Our affluent and
stable society seems to be breeding an indifference to the very process
by which we achieved it. Something isn’t right and we need to ask
ourselves whether it is anything to do with us.”

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