Jobbins: "different sources"
As news audiences continue to fragment, journalists will increasingly be expected to repackage stories to suit the needs of a variety of outlets, it was argued at a seminar on the past, present and future of news.
An ever-increasing amount of news available on digital channels and the internet, coupled with digital technology in the field, would change the process of newsgathering, claimed Peter Mayne, executive editor for the BBC newsgathering resources team.
Speaking at the seminar, organised by Sony, sponsor of the Rory Peck Trust for freelance journalists, Mayne said developments in digital tech-
nology would make it possible for journalists to repackage material from the field rather than in the studio. The availability of light, easy-to-use broadcast-quality cameras and laptop editing systems meant that more and more journalists would also be shooting and editing their own stories.
"There will still be a need for specialist reporters and for cameramen and women, but I think the likely response to the need for material for a number of outlets will be that it is done by journalists at base," said Mayne. "I think journalists will be using technology to fulfil their journalistic ambitions – people growing up now are far more used to using technology, they’ve been using a mouse since they were tiny and use digital cameras regularly."
Plans for an international news bulletin on the highbrow digital channel BBC4, along with proposals for youth news on BBC3, are in line with the trend that bulletins will focus more on serving a niche audience, it was claimed.
While the mainstream news bulletins continued to attract large audiences, Bob Jobbins, former head of the BBC World Service and currently chairman of the Rory Peck Trust, said that viewers had become used to going to a number of different sources to get the news they need.
"Television has been the dominant medium, but it’s a medium which handles ideas and analysis very badly," said Jobbins. "I think more and more TV programmes will be the front page to get people to the web if they want more depth. We have to accept that each consumer has different interests and what we will be doing is not so much broadcasting and more "narrowcasting."
Contrasting the coverage of the 1982 Falklands War with more recent conflicts like the Gulf War, Jobbins said journalists today wasted far less time on communicating with the foreign desk and filing stories.
But there was a need to safeguard creativity and originality, when there were so many demands on journalists, said Jobbins.
"In fact, I think with the logistics of filing all that material, it will be the freelances who have the ability to really explore a story and come up with the original stories. That’s a form of quality I think we should try to protect."
By Julie Tomlin