Friday, June 12, 2009

Is there a future for journalism?

Yes. That's the simple answer but it's taken us two days to come up with that. Well, not strictly true, it's taken us two days to set out the changing landscape of journalism and the implications of that for journalists, journalism and our unions.

I've been taking part in an International Federation of Journalists Consultative Group on the Future of Journalism with leading journalists from Spain and Belgium, union reps from Canada, Australia, Denmark and a media academic from South Africa as well as IFJ officers covering the Middle East, Africa and Europe and General Secretary Aidan White.

The brief is to map the changing landscape of journalism - both providing support and assistance to those fighting the current crisis affecting parts of the media and sketching out the changing working practices for journalists, changing models of journalism and the development of new forms of journalism and to assess how journalists and in particular journalists' unions need to respond.

It was a stimulating discussion - but now the hard work starts. We've each been given one section of the project to develop, research, write up, make recommendations on before a final report will be produced later in the year. Mine's on the changing nature of journalistic work - any contributions welcome!

Key to the work though is the actions that come out of it - there's plenty of academic reports and this one has to provide support for unions in the recruitment and organisation of journalists in developing areas of the media. Outside the conference I had the opportunity to swap ideas with Claire O'Rourke from our sister union in Australia who are facing many of the same problems and taking up the new challenges in an active way through their future of journalism project. Sharing experience, in particular where we have had successes, is vital.

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