“New technology – old thinking?”: broadcast journalism in the 21st century

Jon Silverman (University of Bedfordshire, UK)

The look of TV News bulletins and the format of some BBC radio current affairs programmes has changed dramatically over the last decade. Techniques like split-screens and video walls have freshened up television news reporting and programmes like i-PM rely on ideas contributed from listeners for their content. News correspondents “ add value” to their on-air contributions with regular blogs. This is a very different landscape from the one formatted – in the BBC’s case - by Lord Reith and which remained largely intact in spirit until the mid-1990s. But what, of substance, has “citizens journalism” and “user-generated content” brought to mainstream broadcasting? How many major stories of impact have been broken by someone armed with a 3G phone and an inquiring mind? Has footage of 7/7 captured at the scene by passers-by, or that of the Asian tsunami, significantly shifted the boundaries of broadcast news when aired on TV bulletins? Why has nothing like the Rodney King beating (shot on a home Super 8 camera way back in 1992 in LA ) surfaced to embarrass the police or security agencies in the UK? Given the preoccupation with crime on news bulletins and the TV schedules, does this reveal something about our culture in the 21st century? In this paper, I argue that, for all the new gadgetry, the broadcast news agenda is still largely shaped by newspapers. And the 50-year-old Today programme on R4 is still the market leader in influencing opinion-formers via a technology developed in the 1920s.

Timing - Saturday - Panel Session G2
Download the full paper - Jon Silverman.doc



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