This is a hard one for me to write, when I was asked to write an article on the future of journalism I thought it was would be easy. There was one point in my life when I thought I was the future of journalism. But, no, I am just one of many other journalists struggling to survive.
Like many others, I took the National Council for the Training of Journalists qualification, as I was told it is the “industry standard”, which might be true. But, in an industry which has started to put more emphasis on getting clicks, and driving traffic through SEO, so that they can sell adverts, do you really need a qualified journalist, or do you need someone who can write paragraphs with twenty words, packed with keywords that will light up Google like a council-estate at Christmas?
I look at an industry where jobs are going, only a few weeks ago Newsquest let go of all their photographers based at their South London hub. Titles based at the hub include The Guardian series covering Croydon, Epsom, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton, Wandsworth and Wimbledon as well as the Richmond and Twickenham Times, the Surrey Comet and the News Shopper (which has six local editions). They did so on the basis they weren’t needed anymore.
A source at the paper told me that bosses believed photographers were an unnecessary expense as “Whenever something happens, there’s always a member of the public there with an iPhone, who will send us the image for free, in return for getting their name in the paper”.
A few months ago, if I was writing this article it would have been about the technology, about going out armed only with an iPad and being able to complete a full day filming, editing, writing and then posting to the website, content which would appear in the next day’s print edition (and, note to the Ed, I promise I will write about that in the future).
But, now this article isn’t that. I am worried about the future of journalism. This is my third career now, and it is the only one I have ever really wanted, but I face losing it to unqualified, untrained bloggers who are willing to do the job for free, because they know it will drive traffic to their blog, and they make their money from the adverts.
Attitudes have to change, from employers and from staff. I am flexible, I know that I am going to have to work long hours, in bad conditions (at times), but that is what I signed up for. Journalism is about the news, it is about me putting my name on a story and that meaning something.
Having my name on a story means I have researched, I have legally checked it, I have satisfied myself that the story is right. I can do that because I am trained and qualified. But, that’s not what they want anymore.
Unless we are careful the future of journalism is this: Lists, about cats.
Because that’s what people click, and share...
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.