Conference told internet is over - market news for iphones

News organisations should supply content tailored to the new generation of mobile phones - just one of the ideas for the future of the media proposed at a panel consultation session at the Journalism Skills Conference.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors and a director of the NCTJ, chaired the session which sought to define the future trends of journalism for which the audience of journalism educators and trainers assembled at Hampden Park should prepare their students.

On the panel were Martin Boyle, course co-ordinator at Cardonald College, Sarah Niblock, head of journalism at Brunel University and Darren Thwaites, editor of the Evening Gazette, based in Middlesborough.

Martin Boyle said: “Without the local press there is a clear democracy deficit in this country, bloggers don’t tend to go to the courts or go to council meetings. In reality it is the properly trained journalists that will make the difference.

“The market for news is out there. All this talk about the internet, but it is not where the young people are now. We should be looking at marketing news on to iphones. Some of my students talk so much about their iphones, I sometimes think they are sponsored by Apple.”

Illustrating his point that news organisations need to explore new markets away from established models, Martin went on to suggest that in the same way a single song can now be bought for a few pence on itunes, perhaps a single news story could be brought for the same low price.

Sarah Niblock, head of journalism at Brunel University, announced to the conference that she has prepared, in partnership with the NCTJ, a new collaborative research proposal on local news writing.

This research, which would take place with the help with the newspaper industry and journalists themselves, would seek to establish just what news-writing techniques aspiring journalists should be learning.

The results of the research would then be used to influence the way news-writing is taught in colleges, universities and private companies across the UK and may even have an impact on future NCTJ qualifications.

Sarah said: “The next generation of journalists need to be assured of the integrity of their pre-entry education during challenging times for employment.”

Darren Thwaites, editor of the Evening Gazette, based in Middlesborough, took conference delegates through the operational changes the team at the Evening Gazette has made to meet the challenges of the last two years.

He said: “We were dealing with structural change and just as we were dealing with that along came the economic downturn which has been far more challenging.”

Darren outlined how social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter have become more important to his newspaper, with over 750 people now following tweets from his reporters on Twitter.

A hyper-local aspect has been introduced to the Evening Gazette website and photographs taken by photographers working on the newspaper have been placed on Flickr, a move which has generated income.

In summing up his presentation Darren said: “Anyone coming into the industry needs to be ready for change and more change and for me that’s about the mindset not just the skillset.”