A conference organised by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Westminster in association with the British Journalism Review
Professor James Curran Goldsmiths College
Gitlin Columbia University
May 19-20 2009
News journalism is in deep crisis. Newspaper readership is falling, the audience for television news shrinking, and young people in particular seem to be less interested in traditional forms of news consumption. 24-hour news channels on shoestring budgets fight over tiny audiences while even well established and committed news organisations like the BBC and New York Times are cutting budgets and laying off journalists.
Those that remain complain of increased workloads, lack of resources, insecurity of employment, greater dependence on news agencies and PR handouts, and lack of training opportunities. There are accusations that serious journalism, with in-depth coverage of important issues that can hold the powerful to account, has given way to a toxic mix of infotainment, sensationalism and trivia.
Some, particularly the young, see online as the way forward. Internet penetration is high in most developed countries and growing rapidly in the developing world. The web offers a multimedia environment for new developments like citizen journalism and blogging, different kinds of news reporting and new approaches to current affairs.
But it also threatens the business model of newspapers as classified advertising moves online, while television suffers from fragmented audiences and the growth of time-shifted viewing. Many question whether user-generated content can ever be a substitute for well-resourced newsgathering carried out within trusted institutions according to established professional values.
This conference will review the current threats to the practice of journalism and examine some of the developing alternatives.
Papers are invited that address any of these issues. We welcome contributions on:
The audiences for news
The development of new media outlets
Current practices in journalism
The impact on journalism of changing economics and ownership
New approaches to journalism, and
The future of journalism as a paid occupation.
Many of the problems identified are specific to the advanced countries. The organisers welcome papers that address the different situation in developing areas, like India, China and Africa, where audiences for traditional media continue to grow and where online news has quite different implications.
Charles Wheeler Award and Memorial Lecture
The conference will close with the inaugural Charles Wheeler Award for outstanding contribution to broadcast journalism, sponsored by the British Journalism Review. This will be followed by an inaugural memorial lecture, given by:
Director General of the BBC
If you wish to present a paper at the conference, send a 250 word abstract to:
Ms Helen Cohen firstname.lastname@example.org, who is also the contact for all enquiries.
Deadline 1 February 2009.
1. The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Westminster is home to the UKs oldest undergraduate degree involving journalism training, the BA in Media studies, which recruited its first students in 1975. Today, the Department has a wide range of courses in journalism and media production at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level (http://www.wmin.ac.uk/mad/page-97).
2. The Department is also home to the Communication and Media Research Institute, rated by the 2008 national Research Assessment Exercise as the UKs leading media research centre (http://www.wmin.ac.uk/mad/page-561).
3. The British Journalism Review was established in 1989 by journalists and scholars concerned about issues of ethics, standards and quality within the journalism profession. Now published by Sage, it continues as a quarterly journal for serious reflection on the practice and theory of journalism, and the evening event and award is part of its 20th anniversary celebrations (http://www.bjr.org.uk).
The University of Westminster is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. Registration number: 977818 England. Registered Office: 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW.
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