Saturday, August 29, 2015


I've filleted a little from an interesting interview with Evan Davis (now with Newsnight and The Bottom Line, if you're wondering what happened to him). It's from a crowd-funded journalism website called Byline, and I found it via The Independent. Here's Evan's thoughts on the impact of social media, blogging and such stuff on the world of traditional journalists.

"I’m aware that there are dysfunctions in the market, and that this is an incredibly turbulent time Believe me, no one in the BBC is under any illusions, as we get year after year of slicing out money and finding fewer people to do the same job. It has been disrupted, very heavily disrupted. 

There are dysfunctions with a system of journalism built in a world of social media and we know what those dysfunctions are, people rushing to judgement about things without reading anything about them, feedback loops where the same inaccurate things are howled around as if they are true, hysteria, mob rule, excessive emphasis on clickbait, the polarisation of sources, right wing people only reading right wing bloggers, same on the left so people can't even agree on the tenants of debate; believe me there is a LOT wrong. 

But the truth is there is an explosion of information, there is a huge amount of holding to account, a huge variety of viewpoints for people to say stuff; I’m often impressed by what comes out in non-traditional journalistic sources. It is not a nice road to sunlit uplands, but it is what it is and I don’t think it is fair to say that society is losing a lively public sphere of debate, fact and reporting.

There are dysfunctions, but there were dysfunctions in the old model. If you want to read about the old model, read Scoop, the old Evelyn Waugh novel, which is a satire on it. There was a lot of bullshit in the old model, there is a lot in the new; we’ve all done our fair share of bullshit. But I will be confident that we are not in a dark place if we have a thriving eco-system of models of different journalists aiming to do different things. If it were just big proprietor newspapers I would worry. If it were just the Guardian burning through its endowment I would worry. If it were just the BBC I would worry. It is got to be a lot of different things out there, and at the moment we have that. 

Actually on my radio program, The Bottom Line, we had a program on the newspaper industry where we spoke to three business managers, people who are executives, not editors. They were from the Financial Times, which is just a brilliant product that has managed to move to monetize digital more successfully than the others, from the Guardian and from local papers. They all felt deep down that while the newspaper is in trouble, journalism isn’t."

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