New media is not killing journalism, an Oxford Union-style debate attended by journalists and academics concluded on the eve of World Press Freedom Day last week.
The debate, at London’s Frontline Club onFriday, was organised by the UK Commission for UNESCO and attended by reporters, columnists, lecturers and trade unionists who voted by 43 votes to 13 against the motion that ‘new media is killing journalism”.
BBC journalist Robert Lustig, presenter of Radio 4’s The World Tonight, argued against the motion. He said: ‘I am a hell of a lot better informed than I ever was as a journalist – thank God for Google, thank God for Wikipedia.”
Nazenin Ansari, diplomatic editor at London-based Iranian newspaper Kayhan, and president of the Foreign Press Association, also claimed that journalism had benefited from new media, claiming that it had given Iranians freedom of expression denied to them by the country’s theocratic rulers who she said had shut down 150 newspapers in the past 10 years.
But the economic threat from new media had irreversibly changed the priorities and outlook of traditional media companies, it was claimed.
Speaking in favour of the motion, Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur, warned that the eroding of journalism’s traditional business model would mean the end of professional reporting.
Attacking ‘the notion that technology liberates us from the old media basis of facts and from the editors and fact checkers,’Keen said the result would be the ‘death’of traditional newspapers and journalism.
Student Stuart Ross picked up the annual World Press Freedom Day student journalism award for his podcast entry arguing that new media is not killing journalism.