Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing


Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on September 28, 2006

Time for a much needed media-whore blog.

Old wrinkly manIt’s been quiet here the past couple of weeks but I’ve been busy; I’ve moved to the big smoke, moved into a new flat and started my new course – Broadcast Journalism at City University in London. It’s all awesome, and it’s got me thinking futures big time. Because the industry I’m finally on the verge of going into, is going to look unreckognisably different by the time I leave it as an old wrinkly man.

In fact it’s faster than that….the world of broadcast and media and even journalism is going to change within 5 years. We are, as Prof Roy Greenslade said in a lecture this week, in the midst of a digital revolution.

So I’ve been pondering the future..what will it be like to work in radio/tv news in 10 years time? Will radio and TV even exist?

The paper bin of history…

Well the first thing to say is that if you’re a newspaper journalist, you’re fucked. No not really, but it seems big change is on the horizon for the old hacks. UK paper circulation is declining big time; one doomsayers predicted something like 2043 as the year the last newspaper closes down.

Of course it won’t be that bad, but newspapers in their traditional form – i.e. on paper – seems a dying concept. All the major papers (with the exception of the Indie) are moving to online content and eventually we may all get our newspaper news online.

The big change this has brought has been the move to multimedia, eschewed neatly by the Daily Telegraph. A conservative piece of piffle here in the UK, the Telegraph is now on the forefront of the digital revolution. Soon all its journalists will be producing audio and video content as well as writing for the papers.

This, I reckon, is the future for the newspaper journalist. There’s a good site run by a lecturer at another journalism course at Westminster- David Dunkley Gyimah – who’s seen the same future.

Broadbandcast Journalism?

Video JournalismAnd it’ll be the same for the traditional BJ as well. Multiskilling’s the way forward and soon we’ll all be expected to shoot, record, edit and write the news ourselves. In many cases this is already happening.

But the bigger future for broadcast journalism is video journalism. This is where the traditional 2/3 person TV crew is replaced by an all singing all dancing journalist who writes, researches, shoots and edits reports all by themselves. 

VJ’s are in place all over the world but are used in conjunction with traditional crews. The future, I think, is the VJ-only newsroom, nicely described by it’s “guru” Michael Rosenblum and it works a bit like this: 

  • A daily 30 minute programme could be supplied by a team of 20-30 independent VJs.
  • Working like a traditional newspaper journalist they take on individual stories themselves seeing them through to transmission.
  • This gives each VJ a greater satisfaction in their work, and encourages more original journalism, moving away from the daily diary.
  • With 30 VJs and only 10 reports per programme, each journalist would only be expected to produce 2/3 reports a week rather than churning out 1 a day. Again, more considered, thorough journalism.
  • And as much as I hate to talk about money, it’d also be cheaper than hiring editors, camera crews etc.

It has it’s downsides of course. VJs as yet can’t report live via satellite and some news events require teams of producers behind the scenes. Some also moan about the quality of video journalism but excellent journalists like Inigo Gilmore and even these Inside Africa pieces prove those people wrong.

Finally, delivery will change too. Video News on Demand (VNOD) is in its early stages, with the marvellous CurrentTV leading the trend. Before long, TVs will be connected to broadband and we literally choose what news we want to watch. Good? Scary? I’m not sure yet.

So it’s all change. Changes are even causing ripples outside Europe and the US…check out Emmanuel’s blog on an E-media conference in Accra.

It’s all very exciting and a bit scary too..will there be jobs for journalists in the future? Emmanuel reckons so – he quite rightly reminded me that all these exciting technologies are tools for journalists and not substitutes.

Whatever the technology does there’ll always be a need for a cynical alcoholic to tell us the facts….I hope.


7 Responses

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  1. Chris Doidge said, on September 28, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    Not surprisingly we’ve been told the same thing down here in Cardiff! We knew we’d chosen the right specialism when we heard just how buggered the newspaper journalists are going to be. For the first time this year, there’s a compulsory video/audio element to their course.

  2. Adam said, on September 30, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    What’s strange is that a lot of newspaper hacks (esp at the Telegraph) are apparently rebelling against these extra skills they’re being offered…what can possibly be bad about being a trained newspaper journo who can also film and edit?

  3. Shall said, on September 30, 2006 at 11:03 pm

    And it’s why I’ve moved to a job in a department called “Interactive”.
    I think the rebellion of newspaper journos might be an act of solidarity and respect (or maybe not that kind), but a whole load of sub-editors are being laid off from national newspapers, with the intention of training reporters to write and sub their own copy. Ho hum.

    I too live in the big smoke if you ever want to meet up. But it’s OK if you don’t x

  4. Rosenblum said, on October 22, 2006 at 10:47 am

    As newspapers move to the web, which cuts the cost of distribution to nothing, and as the web concurrently moves to video, which it is doing, then newspapers will eventually have to move to video as part of the format of presentation. The only cost effective way to gather and dissemnate video based info online is with the VJ model. There will always be a need for those who can gather and process and dissseminate information. Those who can do it in video themselves will find that the demands of the market will far outstrip the supply. Those who can do it well will find themselves in a very good position indeed. those who resist change will find themselves on the dole.

  5. Diana said, on January 8, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks for the ideas!

  6. ndxlu said, on April 9, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Good site!!!

  7. Concentra Award said, on December 3, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    I thought this might be of interest to you and/or your readers:

    The Concentra Award for video journalism is now open for entry.

    In previous years this award has been for broadcast journalism from within Europe only. To reflect the changing news environment the award is now open to video journalism broadcast or published in any news program or on any online news site anywhere in the world.
    The award also comes with a 10.000 euro prize.
    The closing date for entries is Jan 7th 2008. Individuals can enter at anytime up to that point.
    Details, rules and regulations can be found at

    The awards ceremony takes place on March 3rd at the DNA2008 conference, in Brussels.
    The seven short-listed finalists will be invited to the event with their travel and accommodation costs paid by the organizers.

    The Jury members are
    Host: Willy Lenaers (CEO, Concentra, Belgium)
    Chairman: Michael Rosenblum (CEO, Rosenblum TV, USA)
    Sue Phillips (London, Bureau Chief, Al Jazeera, UK)
    Cristian Trippe (Brussels Correspondent, Deutsche Welle, Germany)
    Bas Broekhuizen (Editor, Volkskrant TV, Netherlands)
    Tone Kunst (Editor in Chief, NRK Nordland, Norway)
    Leif Hedman (Director, SVT, Sweden)
    Vicente Partal, (Board Member ECJ, Director, Villaweb, Spain)

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