O'Reilly offers his vision of print journalism's future

Newspapers are in rude health and will be the public’s ‘ultimate browser”, selecting and presenting the important things in the face of huge amounts of data, according to Independent News and Media chief operating officer Gavin O’Reilly.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, O’Reilly said the overall perception of the industry was one of ‘inexorable slide downwards’and called such statements ‘the most bizarre case of wilful self-mutilation ever in the annals of the industry”.

Both the advent of free newspapers and marketing-led giveaways posed a real threat to newspapers, he said, and he asked why anyone ‘would go out and buy a newspaper if there’s an odds-on chance that at least 10 people will try to shove a free newspaper in your face?”

Media commentators had ‘oversimplified a complex issue”, by pointing to online as a reason for newspapers’ decline, he said.

‘Those of us who might seek to legitimately champion the future of print within this media maelstrom are often castigated to the realms of Neanderthal-like people who just don’t get it. I assure you, I get it,’he said.

User-generated content will have its place, he said, but more important was the unique selling point of newspapers: ‘Well-crafted and well-edited content that has faced the rigours of a well-honed editing process.”

He said: ‘I see a world where quality journalism will stand the test of time and the constant onslaught of technological innovation.

‘Some will accuse me of wishful thinking – but for my part I see it as a worthy financial strategy built on a belief that trustworthy journalism will become even more relevant, even more vital, in this digital age.”

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