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The End of Fortress Journalism

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Peter Horrocks Peter Horrocks | 08:17 UK time, Friday, 17 July 2009

The BBC College of Journalism has this week made available a document called the Future of Journalism.

It's a collection of papers discussing the changes to news in a digital age from a BBC media conference that took place late last year.

In The End of Fortress Journalism, I've written about how journalists are having to reassess how they work. Some people (including Charlie Beckett, Jay Rosen, Daniel Bennett and Bill Doskoch) have been kind enough to tweet and blog about it.

I'd be interested to hear your views on what I've written. There's an excerpt below, and you can download the collection (The Future of Journalism [359Kb PDF]).

Most journalists have grown up with a fortress mindset. They have lived and worked in proud institutions with thick walls. Their daily knightly task has been simple: to battle journalists from other fortresses. But the fortresses are crumbling and courtly jousts with fellow journalists are no longer impressing the crowds. The end of fortress journalism is deeply unsettling for us and requires a profound change in the mindset and culture of journalism.
 
Fortress journalism has been wonderful. Powerful, long-established institutions provided the perfect base for strong journalism. The major news organisations could nurture skills, underwrite risk and afford expensive journalism. The competition with other news organisations inspired great journalism and if the journalist got into trouble - legally, physically or with the authorities - the news organisation would protect and support. It has been familiar and comfortable for the journalist.
 
But that world is rapidly being eroded. The themes are familiar. Economic pressures - whether in the public or private sectors - are making the costs of the fortresses unsustainable. Each week brings news of redundancies and closures. The legacy costs of buildings, printing presses, studios and all the other structural supports of the fortress are proving too costly for the revenues that can now be generated.

If this all sounds a bit grim I can make no apology, but I do think - and mention in the paper - that there are some reasons for optimism. Do let me know what you think.

Peter Horrocks is the director of BBC World Service.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It's interesting stuff, but it takes the familiar broadsheet-centric attitude that news, especially newspaper news, is the be-all and end-all of journalism.

    And it isn't. For instant breaking news, there are too many new rival sources competing with traditional paper: Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and today's wired public is used to instant results; instant soundbites and video clips. Look at what cameraphones do: true, they don't supply comment, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video clip is worth ten thousand.

    I'm a business journalist and my sector and title are nice and healthy. That's because we've adapted to incorporate the electronic with the paper in a way that newspapers haven't.

  • Comment number 2.

    Contemplating your navel, which you most eloquently do in your extract, is only good for those who have done the prep with themselves and journalists, although you'd like to claim otherwise, are no different to any other living, breathing individual.

    So I am rather nonplussed by your article. In the big ruthless world of "Fleet Street" an exclusive is worth its weight in gold and still is. Whether someone has captured an interesting morsel on video, audio, or simple eavesdropping, to be first is all that matters. Rather than tap into a message received via Reuters (for example) and work hard to get your own angle on it, you want to either lead the media charge to the scene of a disaster unfolding, or ask yourself, is it enough for just one crew to get there and report whilst the rest of you do their best to dissect and analyse from as many perspectives as you can.

    The best journalists in the business never moved out of a television or radio studio (think Robin Day for example) but did they know their stuff. And couldn't they use their stuff in interviews?

    The real issue is that the BBC cannot make up its mind if it wants to be friends to gain favour, wants to have a lifestyle that gives it the chance of being friends, or wants to damned well work hard to prove just how good they are.

  • Comment number 3.

    It does sound grim, and a good question is who is it grim for? Journalists certainly, and the organisations they work for too. It's less clear if this grimness applies to the public in general. There are some fine things about modern journalism, and some bad things too, it would be great if this was taken as an opportunity to keep the good and allow the bad to fade and die.

    And for me Fortress Journalism is one of the things that should go. It seems that much of the established press and news media not only have their own commercial but political agendas too. Their influence as unelected spokespeople, is disproportionate and problematic. The reputation of the press as decent, honourable and a valued counterweight to the government, institutions and powers of the day is, with fine and notable exceptions, compromised. The printed press especially seems more and more concerned with simply selling - or just giving away - newspapers (which is, after all, its basic business) Fear, exaggeration and anxiety are significant tools, so that any genuinely useful information, sincere comment and real, thoughtful journalism get swamped. The reporting of swine flu is a perfect example.

    This all probably sounds deeply cynical and jaded, possibly exaggerated, but a lot of reporting consists of emotional hyperbole, exaggeration, flippancy and the co-opting everyone else's opinion by columnists and editors too. And then we have the press feeding off itself, - fortress journalism battling journalists in other fortresses. No wonder I feel cynical!

    To be fair, it's really no different from any other industry. There are good organisations and bad, and after all, as consumers we are free to choose. It sounds as if there is now a growing perception in the business that things have to change. In a stable environment overheads accumulate, the need to improve and re-invest declines - and if you're making good profits, why should you - until the day the world changes. And this is really what is being discussed in your report - the economics and culture of the business of journalism. Cultural change within an organisation is extremely difficult, revolution rather than evolution is often the only way.

    So where are these economic pressures coming from? Short term the global economy - longer term the internet is taking revenues and so it is hard to see this situation improving. I know that UK commercial TV revenues have been hugely impacted first by satellite TV, then by the internet (which has also badly affected cinema advertising revenues too). I'd be interested to know how the internet has affected printed press and other journalism in this way.

    Thanks for bringing this debate to us, I think it is very important and it's nice to have the opportunity to have a say.

  • Comment number 4.

    The problem with the mainstream media nowadays is that they're no longer first with breaking news or stories, and they've become too heavily politicised - either through an overall bias in their reporting or the subjects they choose to report on.

    The general public, by and large, are now sick of this, which is why many of us are now seeking alternative sources for news and information.

    Bloggers are the new heavyweights in this arena, as they answer to nobody but themselves, and in many cases, speak with first hand experience of the stories they write about - something journalists rarely have these days. As Guido pointed out last week (and let's face it, he's a far better and more reliable source of political news than the BBC or Sky) "News is what people don't want you to know - everything else is advertising."

    Nobody - apart from the blindly religious perhaps - like being preached to, and especially over the past decade or so, the mainstream media has gone from being mainly informative to being mainly preachy. We the general public aren't interested in lovely graphs and statistics, exclusive interviews, panel discussions, news conferences, or soundbites from Westminster that have been written by con-men and announced by crooks. All we want is the truth, and for the bad people to get what they deserve.

    So long as the BBC, Sky, and the rest of the mainstream media stay obsessed with controlling our points of view rather than keeping us informed of the truth, they are doomed to ultimately fail. Which they will. "Fortress" journalism means nothing, as do the "proud institutions" from which it eminates.

    All that matters is truth. If the mainstream media provide this, then in the long run, one way or another they will be fine.

  • Comment number 5.

    Better late than never.

    What Fortress Journalism rarely reports is the news; except on the odd occasion where the facts are illicitly gleaned and published for the common good when lawyers will get in before the editors and the owners to establish facts as facts.Then and then only does dog bite man.

    Fact. But boring. So Fortress Jounalism employs editors to come between the fact and the reader and rabid dog bites gay man.

    And, ofcourse, Fortress Journalism has disproved the maxim that the camera never lies, (Piers Morgan) or that illicit phone tapping is a legitimate means of drumming up dirt on personalities. (N ot W). In other words, facts are blighted to drum up ANY news or to satisfy the political bias of an owner.

    Journalists are finding to their cost that facts can be transmitted instantly as facts, without editorial interferance, by the mobile camera or phone carried by the man/woman in the street. "Look. Listen. This is happening. Here. Now."

    Fortress Journalism cannot compete when it comes to RAW, UNADULTERATED, NEWS. The man /woman in the street has snatched it away from FJ and, as a consequence, given us honest news.

    None of the media outlets know what to do with it.

    Take the BBC. Their attitude is to receive it but to edit it and put it alongside professional reporting. ie, they continue to change and doctor the raw facts. How patronising but typical.

    BBC News has neither the foresight nor the nerve to use the raw content from across the world and to put it out on its own. A daily programme would draw its own audience. Instant reporting of the facts would be with us again and the cat would assuredly sit upon the mat again for all to see.

    How refreshing that would be. All imv.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have very little respect for journalists and newspaper journalists in particular so the end of the system that supports & encourages them is no bad thing in my book.

    The press never report the facts as was clearly demonstrated with the recent Iranian elections so what exactly is the point of their existence ?

    Independent journalists, bloggers and other normal people are now providing most people with a more honest & open form of reporting via the internet in a way that doesn't conform to the governments or corporations inherent bias so we are no longer restricted to hearing what some Australian business tycoon or British politician wants us to hear, instead we are able to hear what the real people are saying, often in real time and accompanied by video & pictures.
    To go back to Iran, this meant that I was able to read blogs & reports from people on both sides of the debate with both pro and anti-government individuals able to tell their side of the story without the usual filters that would be placed on them by a mainstream, traditional newspaper or TV news company.

    Rather than being fed a diet of pre-determined opinions by the media cartels we are now able to get the facts from the people on both sides of a debate and then make our minds up for ourselves.

  • Comment number 7.

    The traditional news providers in Britain are tame mouthpieces for the Establishment. They challenge nothing. They present propaganda masquerading as fact. We know this. So now we use internet technologies to by-pass the propaganda machines and uncover truth for ourselves. For this reason, Western governments are investigating ways to restrict or curtail our access to the 'net. The days when we were told what to think are coming to an end.

  • Comment number 8.

    Interesting Blog

    to me it sounds as though journalists are failing to realise how little respect their profession is held in by the public, that, and not technological developments is the over-riding reason your revenues are falling.

    the canker started as the low end of the market began to try to compete with the internet a few years ago, they found themselves largely always a day behind in reporting the real stories and became more & more focused on trivia like celebrities and 'real life'.

    Now most Red-tops (including the black top red tops) resemble gossip magazines more than real news media. I wouldn't buy 'hello' so why would i buy a tabloid?

    The disease has recently begun to spread to the broadsheets, though thats not their main problem. Everybody knows that in Britain each broadsheet has its own permanent political bias meaning ,for example, that every political story you read has two layers of spin to decipher - one from the politician & one from the paper - making it far more difficult fot the reader to asses the facts.

    The last bastion is TV news broadcasting where (in my view) fortunately we have laws to prevent the in your face poltical campaigning of certain US networks, but even that is being eroded by dumbing down - I can't watch the BBC 6:00 news without cringing (though in fairness Newsnight is still the second best news show on TV after the mighty C4 nightly news).

    News journalists need to stop and look what the emphasis of their industry has become comapred to what is was even 20 years ago - if you can raise your standards maybe you can raise your revenues & maybe even win back some respect.

  • Comment number 9.

    #3 DerGullen

    Your second paragraph is absolutely spot on as far as I'm concerned - Political agendas have done more to undermine journalists and their publications than anything else. Political spin does not enhance a story it devalues it, sometimes completely. And i mean any spin be it to the left or right.

  • Comment number 10.

    The instant access to news stories means that getting elusive 'exlusives' and breaking news first is no longer that important. Rather people are turning to news sources for the way the news is presented. And the personalised nature of today's information means there is no one form that will reign supreme.
    I remember reading that a significant proportion of young Americans tune into Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" as their primary news source for example. It does mean having journalists who can write, present, and investigate stories will still be highly sought out, but I feel those with only one of those skills will become less desirable.

  • Comment number 11.

    It's their own fault really. For too long the major newspapers have been so obsessed with target markets that they forget the simple maxim that journalism's job is to hold up a mirror to society, reflecting good and bad. They are in too much of a hurry to tell people what 'market research' tells them we want to hear. They identify their target market, and thenceforth every single article in the publication must appeal to that target market. The trouble is that this makes them samey and tiresome. You might as well not bother to pick up the Mail, the Sun, the Guardian etc. because you KNOW what their opinions will be, and how the article will be written. You can guess what their 'opinion' columns will say because they say the same thing every single day. Nothing's new, nothing's fresh. Everything has to fit in with the house style. They will have to change or they will soon be writing their own epitaphs.

  • Comment number 12.

    I've read about it the other day, the sunset of journalism in Sun Valley, some form of fear from 'defragmentation', expressed by the moguls.

    A well founded fear for few, grand opportunity (more freedom and independence) for many, imo, as ever.

    One thing is for sure, this economy and/of journalism pinpoint, it is a good lesson, for whether it's obvious or not, the failure of economy is closely related to failure of 'corporate and/or state media' (fortresses, if you will).

    That's what you get when you break those fundamental values and guidelines your particular fortress is built upon.

    Most interesting excerpt/thread, haven't look at the paper, as soon as time allows.., till later.

  • Comment number 13.

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  • Comment number 14.


    It's not just expensive bricks and mortar that is contributing to ''the change''.As the population becomes more computer dependent,the media has to raise revenue/sell more than ever through this medium.

    The other substantial technological developments that allow for reduced 'scoop to publish time'' drives the industry to a ''fastest finger'' theme.[Which paradoxically,requires increased caution on veracity]

    'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' is not the only entity to blame.Viewing the home town I was brought up in,revealed the literal,increased speed we all live our lives by.

    ''(Mind moving fast is mad.
    Mind moving slow is sane).''.

  • Comment number 15.

    Is 'Fortress Journalism' really the reason that journalistic standards have fallen so low? The relentless ambition of jornalists, editors, newsreaders to become celebrities themselves? To make or even invent the news instead of analyse, inform and comment on it? To deliver it as if to an audience of children in order to appear accessable and non-threatening? It seems to this 'consumer' to have less to do with a 'Fortress' mentality than with following the path of least resistance.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hmmm - what a lot of negative comment!

    Personally, I find so much of interest in both the written and broadcast media: they are both essential understanding of the world I inhabit, whether I agree or not with the messages implied. I am very happy to apply my own filters of what I may percieve to be special pleading by a vested interest, what may be designed to 'sell the news to sell the medium', or evenn what may only be for entertainment, whether of any interest or not.

    What I really dislike though is the interruption of serious interviewees by the broadcast media especially, of those who might affect us all, where the interviewers may seem to have their own agendas as much as their interviewees - if not very careful. And in the printed media especialy, I truly despair of articles about heavily-promoted and/or media-created 'celebrities'. They aren't 'news'. They may like to think they may influence our lives - but even though we might admire them, is it really healthy that they should?

    I would really welcome journalists (and editors!) who might recognise 'real news', of all kinds, and report it factualy without any slant. Editorial comment is fine, and I can then choose to buy it or not. Even selctive choices of news may be fine, and I can then make my own choices. But I don't want mono-chromatic news, nor partial news, and least of all do I want to feel manipulated by editors who may think they know best what I need amd want to know.

    May that possibly be common ground?

    Most especially, on political matters, let's have all the views! On economic choices, please let's have them? On demographic and social debates, can we hear all sides objectively?


  • Comment number 17.

    One comment on fortress journalism- The comparison to knights is apt. Here in America, Walter Cronkite, a giant of journalism just died. He worked for CBS, but his work was praised by numerous other media outlets.

    Nowadays, the media doesn't have as much of a unifying force. It's less the jousting of knights than the clash of armies. The task is to bring in the new tactics of the new age of war, and combine it with the chivalry of the old...

  • Comment number 18.

    Interesting political cartoon that touches on the declining costs of periodicals today. http://www.markfiore.com/political/old-vs-new

  • Comment number 19.

    The last great "information" fortress is the bbc. This institution has now had its day as it is so biased as to be inconsequential to the man in the street. This is due to his being taken for a moron by the bbc, and fed the usual polically correct mantras sprouted by bbc wanabe minor celebrity presenters, or worse, by government ministers of earsplitting ineptitude and mediocraty.

  • Comment number 20.

    Good investigative journalism is all but dead. And by investigative journalism I don't mean Paxman badgering some half-wit politician. The MSM seem entirely reliant on whistle-blowers now.

    The rise of political correctness and the sycophancy of lobby journalism has left us with a predictable press. On any given topic you can pick up the Guardian, the Mail, the Times, the Sun etc., or switch on the BBC... knowing exactly what line they'll be taking.
    I agree with LippyLippo @11, the titles have their market and that's who they'll cater for, regardless.
    That is why independent bloggers are thriving. Print is dying, the overheads and time lag in publishing may prove too costly. But a loss in quality will prove equally damaging.
    In the time it takes to scan the Guardian, for instance, I can browse a wide range of opinions on the internet. The likes of the BBC are also in a similar position. Do I want to watch an autocue reader's cringeworthy attempt at incisive interviewing, clinging to a line of questioning that's clearly going nowhere? We deserve better than that.

  • Comment number 21.

    There are 'news' pages and there are 'opinion' pages. The first should inform the second. The second should never inform the first.

  • Comment number 22.

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  • Comment number 23.

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  • Comment number 24.

    I feel that British newspapers are so in house and incestuous like the Govenment there is no real independent papers they are all owned but the likes of Murdoch or Black or some Lord and the reason being so that they can influence Govenment who are in their pay and are to lazy to rule as adults. The media is independent except the BBC which is paid to lie to us by us its word is lord because from when it started it had this white image. The journalist spend more time fighting each other than telling the truth because they are paid and its their job so you do what the boss says look at Maxwell who backed Thatcher and who worked for him Wade Campbell to name a few both have huge influence with Blair Murdoch loves Thatchers bones so it tells you what runs the country but its the general public who buys the papers and most of them are older than the 14 to 22 rang. But its all about celeb and football the opuim of the masses, now its cricket endless drivel about second rate players we had an opening to change it all with the bankers and PMs expenses and what people lost interest because it dawned on them that it did not get this way with out help from those in power who stay that way no matter what Govenment is in power. Change has to start at the top and that includes the newspapers I do not buy many papers now as I can find what I need on the internet or talking to people I find it all male ego driven as I do the news on the television were the middle aged man says what is important and his younger female chirps in with a smile and hope he will nod to tell her that she did it well. Or the female manic weather woman who tell you rubbish about the weather its is never right because no human can control nature.

    We have not yet got to the Disney News as in the USA but we are getting there were are the John Pilgers these days to free!!

  • Comment number 25.

    When horses were replaced by the internal combustion engine, the supply of horse manure dried up and those whose business it was to collect horse manure and sell it to farmers and market gardeners must have had a hard time. Eventually many of them probably used their contacts in agriculture, to go into the business of selling artificial fertilisers and became prosperous again. This is the way of the capitalist world.

    Now it looks as if the traditional methods for collecting news may become redundant, there are opportunities for journalists to use their skills in the new news supply chain. An obvious example is that as a result of the huge volume of information collected by amateurs there is a need for someone to condense this and provide the ordinary member of the public, who has limited time, with a summary. This is already happening with the news coming from Iran.

    I believe that the best newspapers, magazines, radio and TV news sources will survive, they just need to adapt a little.

  • Comment number 26.

    This is really worrying. The BBC has massive news gathering and broadcasting resources paid for by the public. If you are suggesting a horses for courses approach to news provision then the BBCs dominance will inevitably lead to other organisations taking the BBC feeds, as this will be the lowest cost option. No doubt the BBC will offer the feeds at a ridiculously low cost or for free.

    With all the problems we have had with BBC bias and propaganda, I cant imagine a worse situation where most UK news is being sourced and provided by the BBC with commercial organisations having a choice between taking the feeds or closing down.

    A much better option is to slash the BBCs news gathering budget to bring it in line with competitors. It may then be worth looking again at feed sharing as a possible way forward. If this is not done, then we could end up with the BBC becoming a modern day version of 1970s Pravda.

  • Comment number 27.

    Dear,Mr.Peter,
    Really interesting piece from you.
    Now a days, if any,especially educated persons wants to get news,they will immediately turn on TV Channels or from Network services.
    I have all ammenties to get latest world happenings,just press the button.
    I have noticed,from many students,youngsters are not at all reading newspapers in total.They said that,only interested to know day today sports,music from any media networks.
    Now a days,jouralists are also becoming a ordinary news viewer than on any special events.
    For example, daily, i am getting same news from webservice to newspapers.
    Only sentences are different.
    Theare are some expections on this issue.
    New York Times,The Telegraph,The Guardian and BBC world news are worthy to listen,analyse,watch and arrive for correct conclusions.
    Now no fortress for any jouranlism works.
    People wants to know more on sensational news,personal old events,film actors and film actress dresses,food habits,their pre and post marital lives.
    To sum up,Journalism ,and good works from real journalists fame will be cherished for ever.

  • Comment number 28.

    It is truely a sad state of affairs unfortunately brought about by the journalists need to continually make every story the stuff of conspiracy. This has conditioned the public to believe everything is a conspiracy and turn to the internet which is full of conspiracy theories. If journalist could look to report in a factual way without trying to make everything a soap opera and trying to make it seem like every politician is a liar maybe the tide can be turned. Otherwise its the end of the "forth estate", its in your hands go back to basics, news is about life not entertainment!

  • Comment number 29.

    Having read the paper I concur that journalists have only themselves to blame, by which I mean their consistent dumbed down, formulaic style, deserves to be rubbished. It is interesting that this material is from the BBC College of Journalism. I wonder why our "educators" cannot achieve other than "clone" style rather than "flair" style; is it down to poor standards at intake, poor standards of teaching, or both?

    I rather doubt that changes in technology should change news delivery substantially. Newspapers have always relied on advertising revenue to survive and the Internet provides this quite easily. Technology provides people with choices of media but does not equate to the death of any of them. Even the media still have these multiple choices without getting into elaborate projects to turn radio into "something more visual" or TV into "something more audible". Other technologies offer their own strengths and weaknesses but searching for the perfect method of delivery seems to me a little like chasing your own tail.

    If I were a budget controller I'd be worried by these articles, because to me they are in essence shouting out for more money, when what should be happening is that the widening choice of news access in the independent sector is great for competition. If the public are to gauge the credibility of the BBC in delivering news comprehensively and impartially then having access to material "published" elsewhere but not carried by the BBC should be perfect examples of when license payers should be queuing up to ask the BBC "Why the exclusion?". That places pressure on editorial staff who do the "selecting" and may mean that they have to start to earn their money.

    I would take "The End of Fortress Journalism" to mean the end of a "closed shop" and not before time either.

  • Comment number 30.

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  • Comment number 31.

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  • Comment number 32.

    The problem is most people seem to be under the mistaken understanding that the likes of Twitter and blogs are actually news. They're not - they're nothing more than commentary. Each posting is simply one person's view of an event or issue. It's not the total package - it doesn't offer an opposing, balancing view in the same package (the first rule of journalism - always get the other view). It's all very well to criticise the media for having an agenda, but what exactly motivates all the bloggers, tweeters and you tubers? Never mind 'fortress journalism'. Most newspapers are trying to fend off the damage being wreaked by a lawless internet. The failure is in not recognising social networks as broadcast media and subjecting them to same laws about libel, contempt and standards that the established press is bound by. How would they fair if they had to pay out the same costs for ensuring they stay within those laws or finding ways to get around them as newspapers, TV and radio do? The other mistake is the assumption that the national press/broadcast media are all the media we have. Believe it or not, the regional press still provides excellent quality journalism - albeit much reduced these days - and provides a voice for communities by campaigning vigorously on local issues. It's in the regions where journalism is struggling most. Unless the rules are changed to level the playing field the choice of news media will be a publicly funded broadcaster (the BBC) or inane one-eyed tweeters.

  • Comment number 33.

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  • Comment number 34.

    32. At 9:20pm on 19 Jul 2009, PongoJayne wrote:
    The problem is most people seem to be under the mistaken understanding that the likes of Twitter and blogs are actually news. They're not - they're nothing more than commentary. Each posting is simply one person's view of an event or issue... Unless the rules are changed to level the playing field the choice of news media will be a publicly funded broadcaster (the BBC) or inane one-eyed tweeters.


    I have to say that I have used tweets that link to very valuable objective information. And I have, on more than one occasion, felt that news, even from the BBC, has been a combination of narrative-enhancing and/or interpretation of events that hardly makes it a balancing choice to the outlaw blogging Wild West that some are trying to claim.

    I find my only hope is to try and gain exposure to a fair spread of 'fact' and 'opinion' - from individuals to uniquely-funded corporations - in coming to something approaching what is as opposed to what many would like to persuade me it should be to satisfy their often elitist, exclusive (and excluding) agendas and/or world views.

  • Comment number 35.

    I found this interesting in complement:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/digitalrevolution/2009/07/the-blog-is-deadoh-no-it-isnt.shtml

    Especially the rather 'broadcast only' notions attributed to some, which may explain the way we gain our political 'news'.

  • Comment number 36.

    Any chance of changing the incorrect link so it points to my blog? Ta, Daniel Bennett.

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  • Comment number 40.

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  • Comment number 41.

    What you might like to consider is the nature of the journalist 'pack' and what it feels like to be hounded by it.

    You might like to consider the relationship of the 'fortresses' as you like to call them with the police, MI5 and stooges.

    I know, 100%, that either I am the greatest psychic in the history of mankind or a chain of informational command to News International Editors exists by some circuitous route, which may include the list of organisations listed. I remain 100% confident that James Murdoch, CEO of Sky Sports, will take the same route as Mr Andrew Coulson out the door if his organisation has been using information from my PC without my consent, either through direct bugging or acquisition from Mulcaire-clones. And I expect UK society to tell him in no uncertain terms that if he does not do so, then he will be shot in the same way than Jean Charles de Menezes was executed..........I expect the same terms to be applied to Rebekah Wade, with her punishment for non-compliance to be public hanging without trial.

    I know, for a fact, that all editors must put their skulls on the line signing documents stating that information gathered that way will lead to lifetime bans from journalism and I know that all journalists must be required to show that they are not handling stolen goods, which includes information on personal PCs hacked into by so called 'journalistic supply chains'....

    Let me make this clear: 'acceptable collateral damage' most certainly DOES include the assassination of all UK editors who engage in these kinds of actions. 20 deaths is as NOTHING compared to the gung ho murderous lynch mob we saw expressed on the front pages through this decade where bombing 100,000 foreigners to death was concerned. It was so disgusting as to be beyond rational words.

    It is time for editors and journalists to become the 'acceptable collateral damage'.

    Because when they consider from the OTHER end what that might mean, then they might start to exhibit human qualities that are consistent with the terms 'adult', 'humane', 'journalist'..........

  • Comment number 42.

    All very well - but among other things a bit more precision of meaning is needed among BBC journalists. For instance today you speak of a minister being the first to ADMIT that UK forces do not have enough helicopters in Afghanistan. That implies that he is accepting the truth. But there are several opinions on this and it is not up to the BBC or any other medium to decide which or any of them represents the truth. Surely the best a decent journalist can say is that the minister is the first to SAY that UK forces do not have enough helicopters in Afghanistan. As an alternative view, for example, many people including soldiers may well maintain that it is the nature of the war and the need to patrol on the ground which result in daily deaths - not lack of helicopters.

  • Comment number 43.

    #42 journofreethinker

    You are absolutely on the button with your comment. These nuanced reports happen time and time again on the BBC, and I mean many times a day. It is not trivial, it is vitally important as it introduces a valued judgement from the reporter which may never have been there in the first place.

    We already have comments from the likes of Nick Robinson and other so-called correspondents and editors. These are blatant and are against the BBC's own rules. However, the nuances that the BBC introduces in story after story are just as bad in my opinion as they are slipped in almost unnoticed.

    At least we can dismiss Robinson's views as one man's opinion. However, a word slipped in here or there, is like a chronic airborne infection that may dissolve into our minds perhaps doing greater damage over time.

    We deserve facts. The soldiers serving in the army deserve facts. We deserve facts about the environment instead of propaganda. We all need to know the state of play. There is a gap in the market for unfettered facts. The BBC should surely be performing this service.

    Until it cleans up its act I cannot see how the BBC could be allowed to share its feeds with other news organisations.

    As far as banning blog comments (thanks for the support), I am not that disheartened. At least somebody at the BBC is reading them. You never know, they may pick up on a nuance here or there and they may eventually get the message.

  • Comment number 44.

    #43 Quote "Until it cleans up its act I cannot see how the BBC could be allowed to share its feeds with other news organisations."

    I agree and I also share the thoughts expressed in #42.

    The BBC makes many arrogant presumptions of its import in the world of news and journalism. At one point in time the BBC didn't make presumptions - it didn't need to; it was the best. Now, however, it is a parody of the world it criticises, privileged and disinterested in the people who allow it to exist. The BBC's head is so far up its backside that it cannot even hear or see its own agendas: is it any wonder it was so easy for a couple of political clowns to set it up for the shock of its life mid-decade?

    The bottom line in the Afghanistan situation is that service personnel die and get injured in conflict zones, and we should all hope that any preventable deaths or injuries (other than by bringing everyone back home) are fully investigated, recommendations made and implemented. The truth is, however, that politicians of all shades are fighting each other to get closest to the microphone when none of them has anything remotely interesting to say. And the BBC do not have the journalistic talent available to change that.

    In the meantime many peoples lives are subjected to tragic loss of loved ones not knowing if they could or should have stayed alive in a battle zone that lacks objectivity, meaning or relevance to UK life. Our brave armed forces deserve so much better than this.

  • Comment number 45.

    The BBC is a left wing media organisation, operating within a fortress of rigid political correctness. It has been forced to enter the blogging world through the realisation of the very real threat bloggers pose to those who write according to a preconceived agenda. BBC editors edit out or downplay bits of the news they don't like while highlighting the bits they do like. Newsworthiness is not a factor in this equation. The BBC's agenda is easily and speedily unmasked by the better bloggers on the Internet - those who may have an agenda but nevertheless don't shrink from news that does not suit that agenda.

    Even though the BBC is now actively blogging it has largely failed to grasp the spirit and purpose of blogs, going on timid excursions here and there and then retreating behind drawbridge and moat. There has been much excellent feedback here to Peter Horrock's post. Where is the feedback to the feedback? Can we assume that he is even reading it?

  • Comment number 46.

    Quote by ObsoleteExocet: "In the big ruthless world of "Fleet Street" an exclusive is worth its weight in gold and still is" is rather quaint. Take the Telegraph fiasco with MPs expenses; it wasn't news it was sensationalism. We have to ask ourselves is this the way we want to run our civilisation - trial by Telegraph? Navel gazing by the BEEB? Being patronised by the Guardian, Sun and Mirror? Shrieked at and harassed by the Daily Mail? It really is time you journo's grew up.

  • Comment number 47.

    # 32. U14075572

    your argument would have more validity if the reality wasn't that a) journalists have less concern for libel, contempt and standards because they are backed up by their tabloid with money, lawyers and the ability to shape "public opinion". b) That the news outlets they write for has a reputation for printing the truth, preferring fact over opinion and clearly identifying each, for impartially reporting ALL the news not just the bits you "know" we want to hear, for "printing the news not making it" and impartial unbiased writing putting both sides of the story was the norm.
    Two further thoughts,
    1)Libel and Slander are bound by Laws that apply equally to everyone including bloggers and journalists
    2) to #46 - The Telegraph "exclusive" was only an exclusive because of "Establishment, specifically governmental and editorial, pressure not to publish. The Telegraph was the only news organisation to break the "pact to not publish MPs expenses" deciding it was in the public interest. It's time you grew up and asked "if the Telegraph hadn't published their "sensationalised (and rather biased, IMO) slant on the subject, would anyone know what MPs were claiming on expenses?" The fact is, that only the Torygraph published a story that had been known about for months. I think that kind of "conspiracy of silence" is far more sinister than any political motivation the Torygraph displayed and may help explain why I (and no doubt many others) prefer blogs because whilst they may be inaccurate, biased and sometimes completely made up, they don't pretend to be reporting the News and don't charge money either.

  • Comment number 48.

    There's a certain irony in it taking a week for a posting of mine to be eventually deemed 'off topic' by someone other than the moderators, when all it did was concur with another's views on personal opinion adding narrative enhancement value to objective reporting. And this not being a good thing, as such.

    If that does not lend itself to a credible contribution to Fortress Journalism, excising counter views from even being seen or considered in discussing it is... poetic.

    I must check out Mr. Hannan about the little movement he is joining Charles Moore in promoting.

  • Comment number 49.

    #45 TrueToo wrote "The BBC is a left wing media organisation, operating within a fortress of rigid political correctness."

    Whilst I agree with allegations of BBC bias, I do not agree that the BBC is left wing. Such is the state of western politics that there is no longer an established and polarised left wing, political correctness has seen to that. We now have a moderate, passionless, political and media franchise which can live and breathe as long as it adds nothing to the cause of alternative politics. It has given us representatives who lack idealism, belief, profound thought, and belonging. They represent themselves in a vacuum of inertia.

    The true left and right of politics soldier on in this vacuum largely ignored by the media except in ridicule. Polarised thought represents the Ancient Mariners of the political "there is only one way (if only we could find it)" and theatrical machinations of Brown, Cameron, Clegg and company. Our media reflect this paradigm of the "ineffectual, everything is acceptable provided you do not have a word for it" mess.

    "We are all in this together brothers and sisters, except I am more important than you are." That is the mantra and problem with our media and our politics. Fortress Media was built on the suggestion that you can anaesthetise those outside the fortress - most if not all of them

  • Comment number 50.

    The whole business of the dissolution of media borders via the internet,isn't about loss of quality or the protection of principled journalism by wealthy organisations. It is about loss of power and, for the uniquely powerful BBC, it is about the need for a now unavoidable focus on impartiality.
    The internet has devolved the power to communicate to us all,rather than the few. We can now make independent decisions on the basis of a broad range of input unmediated by vested interests - whether economic, or driven by a social engineering agenda - ie: we know what's best so we'll manipulate what you think by selecting what we tell you.
    And because the newly revealed wide view of public opinion isn't necessarily what the media wanted to, or was expecting to, see - there's a level of panic.
    Long-established private sector UK media have always, to a greater or lesser degree, been controlled by powerful proprietors with political/economic agenda.
    Backing from The Sun, for example, our biggest circulation daily, is known to be vital to the winning of elections, hence the devotion with which Rupert Murdoch is courted by party leaders.
    Of course it's true that we in this country can choose what paper we buy and what broadcast media we listen to, and that the range of views is varied, so we've always had a greater range of input than citizens in some parts of the world.
    The exception here though,is the BBC. Because the BBC is, historically, respected and trusted, because it it publicly funded and so not dependent for its survival on public approval, the corporation is both uniquely powerful and at the same time potentially more affected by this new media democracy than most.
    The BBC is already under scrutiny over perceived bias in its broadcasting. Now, with instant public disapproval possible via the internet, maintaining impartiality in all BBC broadcasts, from news to drama and documentary, has become critical to its survival.
    News pictures selected, interviewees invited, questions asked, time allotted, deference shown, can not be dictated by newsroom consensus or agenda, formal or otherwise. It must be a matter of simple, balanced factual reporting.
    Politically biased storylines can not be slipped into dramas. Charter committments can not be allowed to slide into censorship. Because the public is watching and has instant access to an open forum for comment via the internet.
    The BBC can not get away with bias because, where once the process of complaint was long and arduous, now we can say what we think immediately, and we do, and we must continue to do so.



  • Comment number 51.

    Ironic to be making these remarks at the, 'BBC College of Journalism'. Not to worry, that anachronistic, tax funded, overstuffed, government mouthpiece, the BBC, will I am certain survive.

  • Comment number 52.

    "... anachronistic, tax funded, overstuffed, government mouthpiece, the BBC ..."

    Aye. Here. Here.

  • Comment number 53.

    I wonder if it had not been better to have looked at the future of the media. It is, after all, the media that has driven the changes and not the customer who still craves pure news delivery at the simplest level.

    Unless we are completely senseless we cannot avoid "the" media. It exists everywhere we go because large corporations have vested interests in influencing. Psychology indicates that if you repeat something often enough it begins to impact and that "something" benefits from being subliminal. Words, images, colours, sounds, sensations, motions and movements can all be used in toxic ways. Branding is no longer just the use of a logo. Turn on your radio or TV and you are buying into a brand, an idea, an agenda. Open a magazine, newspaper or brochure and there is evidence of the absence of independence (in most cases).

    Even films, art, science, music, literature etc are often a part of a brand. It is important that we belong to a brand if the media can influence us to do so, because it makes life (for them) so much easier. The BBC has become a brand. It has a stylised mark against all it creates which, perhaps, explains the need for its College of Journalism.

    This is unhealthy especially if it is driving free thinkers and free spirits out of the mainstream to get their angles of "what life is all about". A look at history demonstrates how many things came from free spirits and free thinkers, against pitifully few ideas from the rest. The BBC has become conformist with a capital "C", taking the allegedly popular stance with all it handles - hence its obsessive indulgence with audience and brand.

    We need to stop this disease now. Individuals must be allowed to thrive in our society or we truly do face 1984 a few decades late. Independence must be King.

  • Comment number 54.

    All editors commentary here (Kevin Marshs Death of the Story arguably apart) has dealt with how to do it, rather than what to do. Does the BBC know what its objectives are? Can they be ranked in order of importance? Are there criteria to measure whether the objectives have been achieved? If you dont know where you want to go, how can you get there?

  • Comment number 55.

    It was about time, good riddance to thee Rupert.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/8186701.stm

    See how it takes shape, one way or the other good folks, one way or the other.

  • Comment number 56.

    Newspapers seem to be in crisis. One editor claims that they have been going downhill for a century, since advertisers began providing more of the revenue than did subscribers. The lessons for the BBC are obvious.

    The admission of many blogger's views is creating a welcome ferment within the bureaucratic and formerly lethargic BBC. This is all to the good.

    There is a risk that the Peter Horracks types of this information enterprise will blandly pander to whatever the popular wave of the moment seems to be. Counter to this is the potential for individual programs to acquire loyal audiences.

  • Comment number 57.

    In his 'hawkish speech', Murdoch junior stated that BBC provides 'state sponsored' news.

    Misplaced argument which only shows the lack of integrity and independence by the corp., if his crumbling empire would be worth a single dime, he would have stated that 'BBC provides public sponsored news which are censored and controlled by the government'. Such comment would bite back though, because..

    Incorporated news have lost their integrity and their independence (freedom) long time ago, these fundamentals were sacrificed for growth, which was based on appeasement, whether we talk about appeasement of other corporate entities, administrates, or appeasement of lower urges in broader audience. You cannot blame others for your own decisions; you cannot blame others for choosing alternative sources that are more prudent, adoptable or skilled in reflecting 'global consciousness'.

    There is a point when certain type of 'leisure news' looses any relevance, these points in time are reoccurring, and those fortresses that have a history, should be aware of these historical lessons or they'll miss opportunity to evolve along with the 'public consciousness'.

    One can say that internet has evolved, or one can say that internet users have evolved.

    Either way, to cry foul because the failures in your own business strategy will not provoke any sympathy, the fact is, we live in universally diverse world, in that world you can either deploy universal diversity, which would basically be endorsement of universal freedom, or you can uphold certain point of view, appease certain group or certain entity. After all, it's a matter of choice.

    ***

    As seen in reports, Sir Lyons spoke about mentioned 'strengths and weaknesses', saying how 'public tell us that they...trust the BBC and value the wide range of services we provide.'

    There is a problem with the trust though, and I'm tired of repeating it formal or informal manner.

    BBC, a 'public service', breaks its own primary guidelines on daily basis; this is unforgettable, unacceptable failure.

    When the elements in government, any government, turn rogue and embark on quest based on, let's say, 'state sponsored terrorism', in such 'preposterous scenario' it is the duty of the 'public service' to serve the public interest.

    This is a very simple choice, yet all we see is a failure.

    After all, if we take the greatest terrorist attack in known history, and if we remove all the 'smoke and mirrors' surrounding it, it becomes painfully, obviously clear, since the day it was conceived, 9/11 became the ultimate 'test for freedom'.

    Consequences of failing this particular test are.., clear.

  • Comment number 58.

    To illustrate those subtle differences mentioned (or not) @57., the little differences that deserve gratitude and earn trust.

    http://www.andremarty.com/uploads/BBC007.serendipityThumb.jpg

  • Comment number 59.

    Heh, moon rock and petrified wood.., all the things that come to mind, to illustrate those subtle difference mentioned (or not) @57., the little differences that deserve ingratitude and possibly a lawsuit.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0MH3egOhiM

    How many people is aware of all the 'cock up's'?

    http://www.petitiononline.com/wtc7bbc/petition.html

    Who can you trust?

  • Comment number 60.

    Maybe this is a chance for us to redefine what is "news." How about we get rid of the idea that "news" is what the head politicians and armies did today.

    Probably the most important "news" we've gleaned in the last, oh, 4 million years, "news" being defined as new to us earth-dwellers, has been provided by the first telescope to orbit in space. The US Congress was persuaded to fund such a "useless" device largely through the efforts of astonomer, Nancy Grace Roman. I made this video about her: 3 minute version:

    http://assignments.bbn3.com/videos/mother-of-the-hubble-space-telescope-1108

    Type in "Mother of the Hubble Telescope" on youTube.com for longer version.

  • Comment number 61.

    #57,58,and 59

    These posts hit the nail well and truly dead centre. So what if Murdoch's empire collapses all around his once mighty mound of money? Does it matter to anyone except Murdoch and those employed by him? It certainly isn't going to damage news delivery any further; that damage has already been so severe that it will take a long time for an ignored public to regain trust.

    To gain sensitivity about "News" requires people with the courage demonstrated by a group of bereaved people from 911. Called the "Jersey Girls" they have cried out for eight years for the press, especially in Murdoch land, to start tackling administrations across the globe but particularly in the US. They have battled against an intransigent and unrepresentative so called democracy and yet the media, including the BBC, have stood back and let them fight their own fight.

    As we approach another anniversary of 911 would it not be a timely moment for the BBC to go back and take a long hard look at what "really happened" - the real truth - and do those Jersey Girls a real favour in gaining justice for their cause - the truth about the War on Terror and why their relatives had to die. There are two exceedingly good films available to the BBC that could be shown on September 11th - "In Their Own Words" and "Press for Truth". Will the BBC carry them?

  • Comment number 62.

    #61 - Well said. I second your request that the BBC screen "In Their Own Words" and "Press For Truth" this September.
    Why are the voices of these women excluded from BBC and other media?

  • Comment number 63.

    What's the big deal anyway? Sure, we should have objective journalism to correct for what Twitterers write, but journalists of lately haven't been doing their home work well, have they?

    In the Social Media era, organisations that are not at all affiliated with journalism will be forced to become more honest about their products and services and how they deal with the world around them. Twitter et alia have made that painfully clear in a number of cases.

    Besides: I don't see many people worrying about it --which I personally find worrying by itself...

 

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