As ever, we journalists live in worrying times, with the internet currently sweeping away many of the old certainties upon which we base our pay cheques.
So it was interesting to hear Daily Telegraph editor Will Lewis offer a few survival tips at a speech marking 50 years since St Brides Church, Fleet Street, was rededicated after the Second World War.
Summing up with three key points he said: “One, an improved online presence will benefit newspaper circulation rather than harm it.
“Two, user generated content will become one of the most powerful forces in our industry.
“Three, localisation and personalisation of content will key to the future success of national media brands.”
He said: “I believe the future is bright for those newspapers that ‘get it’ – without wanting to sound too grim I think it’s brutal and bleak for those that do not. If we understand and embrace the challenge presented by the problems of the media landscape I am confident that Fleet Street can enjoy the next fifty years as it has enjoyed the last.”
A rather dystopian note was struck by veteran media commentator Ray Snoddy, who was on the panel at last Thursday’s event and suggested that multi-skilling, staff cutbacks and management exploitation were doing serious harm to journalism in the current new media age.
He said: “I’m really concerned about people of my children’s generation. I see them going into journalism, I see them coming out again two or three years later disillusioned, disheartened, over worked, poorly paid, badly treated by moronic management. And they walk and get other jobs, that word will spread back to the universities.
“‘You don’t want to go and work at a newspaper, they will just exploit you, there will be no sense of loyalty, you will work yourt but off for five years, and then some manager will decide that you are out.’
‘I think that is a really serious long term crisis that has to be addressed. There is a possible downward spiral. More and more asked of editorial resources, less and less distinguished and distinctive journalism, apart from a few highly paid columnists. That game will not survive over a 20 year cycle, it just won’t.”
What do you think?
PS. If you want to find out more about how to survive the next journalism decade, read a special report in this week’s Press Gazette – available to subscribers on Thursday and in newsagents on Friday.