FEDERICA DE CARIA

John Ryley, editor of Sky news and biggest journalism employer in West London was the special guest at the Journalism Matters talks at Brunel University on Tuesday 18th November.

What happens if we leave behind all the pessimism? Instead saying that we live in the journalism golden age and the technological revolution has made this the better time to be a journalist? It means that we are listening to his vision of the future.

Ryley made his position clear from the very first sentence. He said: “They could write it down electronically”, after the audience had been invited to get pen and paper.

The tools available nowadays in our everyday life and for gathering news were at the core of his speech. “The growth of technology has opened previously undreamed of frontiers in the way news is distributed and delivered”, he said.

From here the six reasons to get over the pessimism that he presented in an inverted pyramid. He said that this ‘listicle’ is “one of the most striking techniques employed by the new type of journalism”, so why not start using it?

The future of journalism is positive because, his six reason starting from the bottom:

  • “The world market for news is actually expanding dramatically”. Here Ryley mentioned the smart phone revolution, which underlined the access that people have to news nowadays.
  • “Journalism remains the most effective way of holding institutions to account”. This highlighted how the elements of persistency and tenacity of reporting stay the same, and the fundamental link between journalism and democracy
  • “The technology revolution has transformed journalists’ ability to tell stories”. This is the consequence of the internet boom, which gave journalists the chance of changing completely the way they gather news, with the chance of a live approach anytime
  • “This revolution in technology has not just transformed the way we gather information. It has also revolutionised how we present it and analyse it”. This brings in the concept of multi-media journalism, which is related to use the most suitable media to present and analyse the story.
  • “Great journalism has real value”. This is linked with the change in the relationship between broadcasters and viewers, talking about a rolling news channel. Ryley underlined transparency as a key word: “By being as transparent as possible we trust our viewers to make their own judgments”. Online resources are broad, full of mistakes and misinformation, that’s why we need the news organizations as fact checking authorities.
  • “The old strangleholds on the distribution of news are being systematically undone by disruptive technologies. The most obvious way is through growth in smart phones”. The success models are the news organizations that are hiring experienced journalists who are creating different and new streams of news able to engage the audience.

Ryley sees new technologies as one of our best allies, the interaction with the audience, the future. For example the development of the On-demand service that Sky is going to launch in the summer.

To see what you want “in an on-demand world you don’t have to wait anymore”, he said. The service is a step forward compared with the rolling channels, where you have to watch things at a pre-determined time.

Internet didn’t spell the death of news channels. “More choice of platforms where you can get the news has expanded the market and the audience”, said Ryley quoting a Reuters Institute of Journalism study, where is proved that people acquiring more devices are consuming more news not less. So the digital is “impacting traditional platform, not yet replacing them”.

The change from what the editor of Sky news has said is something that has to be followed, not feared and every news channel has to become an adaptable evolving creature. This the only way of not ended up like dinosaurs.

In conclusion, he gave some useful tips to the audience of wannabe journalists. Three do’s: “When you go for an interview or you’re writing to someone make sure you consumed the content hard and that one of their rival as well, so you can go into the interview, if you’re lucky enough to get an interview, and discuss that in an intelligent way. Secondly, be really really enthusiastic. Be really enthusiastic and don’t go in there sort of giving the impression that the news organisation is doing you a favour by giving you job. Third, have ideas for where there will be story or products”.

So, those are the keys to impress the biggest journalism employer in West London: knowledge, enthusiasm and ideas. Get ready for yours interviews wannabes.