Conference discusses future of media
Young journalists will have to be more adaptable than ever and learn how to “sort the news from the noise” as the quantity of online content available to consumers increases, a student-organised media conference in Dublin heard today.
Speaking to more than 200 students and media professionals in Trinity College this afternoon, Claire Wardle of Storyful, an online news gathering platform, said journalists in mainstream media institutions have to adapt an entirely new way of providing content if they are to compete with the stream of videos, photos and opinion pieces uploaded by “citizen journalists” on social networking sites.
Ms Wardle said user-generated content can add huge value to the coverage of breaking news stories, but the source of the content has to be verified if newspapers, broadcasters and online news providers are to maintain the trust of their audience.
Irish Times editor Kevin O’Sullivan said that although consumer habits are changing, quality journalism provided by traditional media institutions will continue to play a vital role in society by providing quality insight and analysis that readers can trust.
“We aim to distinguish ourselves from ‘the white noise’ with insight, context, explanation, clarity and a unique take on Ireland and on the world through Irish eyes,” he said.
While newspapers might not always be able to give you the news first, Mr O’Sullivan said, they will be able to give you the “why” behind every story which he hopes readers will continue to pay for.
Speaking at a talk on the Leveson Inquiry into media standards in Britain, internet law expert Simon McGarr said the government in Britain were eager to use the revelations exposed by the inquiry as an opportunity to increase statutory regulation of the press, but that the Irish media had to fight against such regulation here.
He said the shelved Privacy Bill, which Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said he would revisit after the Irish Daily Star published topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge in September, was “the major threat to the public interest at the moment in Ireland”.
He said the press in Ireland is not “explosively vibrant” or “dangerously out of control”, so there was no need for more stringent statutory regulation.
Paul Drury, member of the Press Council of Ireland and former managing editor of Associated Newspapers, said the system of press regulation in Ireland was much more effective than in the UK. Just 10.8 per cent of complaints to the Press Ombudsman in 2011 concerned invasion of privacy, he said.
Mr Drury said the media landscape in Ireland had changed rapidly since the Press Council was established five years ago, and a number of popular online-only publications had emerged as big players.
The Press Council has recently drawn up a detailed plan for the regulation of online-only publications for the first time, and is currently processing applications from such websites that want to become members, he said.
The National Media Conference was organised by five students from Trinity College, and featured debates, workshops and talks on recent developments in print, broadcast and online media.
Speakers included RTÉ broadcaster Brian Dobson, NUI media lecturer Gavan Titley, Newstalk presenter Orla Barry and managing director of the Sunday World Gerry Lennon. The event was sponsored by The Irish Times.