Don’t write off the mainstream media, and certainly not the printed press, was the message from the Society of Editors during a live debate on Sky News.
Executive Director Ian Murray joined other industry panellists for the hour-long discussion into Trust in the Media chaired by Sky News anchor Dermot Murnaghan.
Although trust in the media was the stated theme of the debate – part of Sky’s 30th birthday events this week – the discussions ranged from whether parts of the media will survive in the digital age to how to make the mainstream media pay.
Murray was joined on the panel by James Harding, former director of BBC News and now heading up Tortoise Media, Ash Sarkar, senior editor at Novara Media and Alessandra Galloni, Global News Editor, Reuters.
Murray’s theme throughout was that at a time when the public was bombarded with news of fake news, it is the mainstream media that is best placed to maintain or win back confidence in their platforms.
The Society’s executive director drew on his four decades working in newsrooms to underscore that with their emphasis on training, understanding and adherence to the law, and regulatory controls, the mainstream media were the only platforms that readers, listeners and viewers can have confidence in.
Speaking after the debate, Murray commented: “It is important to keep reminding the public that despite all of the accusations made by some in the political world that the recognised media needs more controlling, they are the only sources of news and information that are actually already kept under scrutiny. This is not the case with social media or many of the digital so-called news sites that have sprung up that are little more than mouthpieces for political activists and vested interests” he added.
“It is no wonder that the public has concerns over whether their news sources are sound with such a plethora of sources. But as an industry we should welcome the debate over fake news and ultimately the trust factor which only the mainstream media can win.”
Murray told the panel that he had great faith in human nature and that once the brashness of the digital age had worn off, the public would come to value sources of news that were well researched, balanced and adhered to laws and regulations.
He added that the printed press should not be written off. It had survived almost a century of constant change and invention, from the advent of radio, through television, to the introduction of free newspapers, then satellite and cable news, and finally the internet and social media.
“The printed media is well adept at reinventing itself to meet challenges,” he told the panel, adding that a look at newspaper websites, at both national and local level, revealed just how the printed press newsrooms were evolving.
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