News 'packaging' at risk from overkill

By Caitlin Pike

News may be more accessible than 40 years ago but the emphasis on
presentation is in danger of becoming too great, according to former
ITN chief executive Stewart Purvis.

In a speech at City University, on whether British journalism was
getting better or worse, Purvis drew comparisons between the “golden
age” of television and print news in the 1960s and today’s media.

He
said: “Speaking as an unashamed ‘packager’ I think some sections of the
news media have pushed it about as far as it is sane and sensible to
push it.

Have they crossed the line? No. Are they on the line? Most definitely yes.”

Purvis,
said the technological revolution means news is much better produced
but audiences have dropped for flagship television and print media as
more outlets have become available.

He also spoke of the commercial value of distinctive and well-resourced journalism.

“There’s
an argument that rather than dumbing down, there’s a sector of the
market in television and print that has smartened up in order to appeal
to those post-war generations that got access to higher education for
the first time in their families’ history.

“An analysis of the
audiences of long form television news in the two decades since the
creation of Newsnight and Channel Four News would show audiences
holding steady or even increasing.”

Purvis concluded by calling
for greater transparency across the media and said that journalism
departments at universities such as City, Cardiff and Sheffield could
support the industry, offering it analysis and scrutiny: “The
long-awaited implementation of the Freedom of Information Act has given
journalists more ways of making public bodies transparent and
accountable, and some, but not all media organisations are trying to
match the spirit of the times,” he said.

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