Paul Mason on the future of journalism

Paul Mason’s the Economics Editor for Newsnight, an NUJ rep and someone whose journalism I’ve got plenty of time for. He’s also, in my opinion, been one of the best adopters of/adapters to new technology at the BBC. He’s pretty forthright in his views, some of which I personally agree with, in particular on the changing technology and its impact.

As you’d expect it’s not being agreed with by some:

I disagree with this man. Journalism needs a better defense than ‘protect the craft’. – Patrick Smith

See also : BBC’s Paul Mason: Newsrooms offer journalists peer review that ‘pyjama bloggers’ can’t replicate

I didn’t get the impression that he was using the “protect the craft” defence, which seems to be the current line of the NUJ (feel free to correct me), more that journalism will survive by identifying and focusing on what makes it unique, such as access, although I don’t believe access is necessarily unique or important in some topic areas.

I’m not entirely convinced by Paul’s views on how important the newsroom is as a form of peer review though. Arguably you are guaranteed a certain degree of assurance about the experience and authority of those around you compared to that on blogs. But as online identification improves, this should become less of an issue. Then again, I can say that, in terms of seeing if it’s got legs, there’s a lot to be said for throwing your idea up in a meeting where you’ve got the immediate reaction from people with a guaranteed wealth of experience.

On a blog you can run away and hide or just delete if you aren’t happy with the response – it’s rare that you’ll ever meet a blogger who hasn’t deleted a comment for one reason or another. In a newsroom, you’re only option is to tough it out in whichever gathering it is then cry in the toilets later (NB, I have never done the crying bit).

Online response always appears to follow a pretty clear pattern for me where you have to wait for the initial fury to wear itself out before the quality comment starts to emerge. Sometimes you shouldn’t and don’t need to wade through that to find the story when you have access to it at the next desk.

Or is this all just a bit of navel-gazing from hacks defending their patch from a new platform, same as weavers, farmers, coalminers and just about every other industry that has experienced the massive impact of new technologies?

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