“I see Twitter as fundamental. It leads the information thirsty to water and satisfies the desire for depth, its power lies in links…Facebook is too cluttered,” Channel 4 newscaster Jon Snow told the audience at London College of Communication yesterday (January 23) evening.
Seeing Snow give the eighth annual Hugh Cudlipp lecture was pretty exciting as a journalist, student, Channel 4 News fan and a Snow fan (something I’m pretty sure I made clear when I asked a question about what kind of regulation the press needs- of which Snow gave no definitive answer but agreed PCC is not the right body).
The lecture was a packed affair with both students and interested journalists amongst others in attendance. In his lecture, Snow called for change in the UK’s libel laws, which he dubbed an “absurd” and “medieval instrument” as well as telling listeners: “When we [journalists] are wrong, we shouldn’t shy of our corrections. Consumer needs to have confidence.”
The Hugh Cudlipp lecture is of course named after Hugh Cudlipp who was, to quote London College of Communication’s website, the “pioneer of the post-war Daily Mirror who took daily sales to five million through popular, campaigning tabloid journalism”.
Previous speakers include Alan Rusbridger, Andrew Marr and Lionel Barber. They also include Rebekah Brooks, a fact which Snow omitted to mention to great laughter from the audience.
The lecture’s title, ‘Why we are poised for journalism’s finest hour’, fit with my previous thoughts after visiting Leveson. Journalism is in new territory where it’s faster than ever before to get a story out there yet it’s becoming difficult to provide well-researched news articles/features for the audience and to make a profit.
That’s not to say it’s not possible, but journalism needs financial resources to continue to be as effective as we would like it to be. How journalism will be funded in the future is a different debate altogether.
What was entertaining about Snow’s lecture wasn’t his jokes and ITN escapades but his talk of a golden age of journalism. He told the audience about the race with the BBC years ago which ITN had won simply because he booked the satellite quicker, saying: “The race [today] is about the best journalism, not about strategic issues.
He added: “We are in the age of [being able to do] more, to get it right, fast and in depth. We can go more places faster and transmit more, faster than ever before… These are exciting times.”
Snow ended with the perfect line to sum up his lecture: “We are well placed to seize this golden age.”
And indeed we are. There’s not much use in lying about journalism and saying that it was great once upon a time. It was, still is and you know what, it always will be. After all, phone hacking was uncovered by journalists no?