How the Home of TV Show The Wire Gives New Hope to Newspaper Journalism

Child sweep

As impassioned rallying calls go, I’d recommend reading Iain Hepburn’s blog on how journalists must grab hold of the debate on the future of news.

Every hack in the country has been through at least two years of queasy uncertainty, being told they’re in an an unloved and unwanted sector heading the same way as other unpopular professions of lore, like Roman fullers or Victorian child chimneysweeps.

Journalists, in effect are dead men and women walking, we are told (and told repeatedly).

Even worse, it seems the people lining up to do the jobs better than trained journalists can manage it from home without getting out of  their pyjamas.While holding down other paying jobs that have nothing at all to do with news gathering.

Oh aye, and did I mention the most wonderful fact of all? They’ll do it for *free*. Um-yum! That altruism is wonderful stuff.

Of course, as a society this has us sleepwalking into a potentially horrendous world of unaccountability – told better than I could ever hope to tell it it in this article by David Simon, creator of TV show The Wire and an acclaimed newspaper reporter.

It seems nobody really wants to listen. While news is free and blogs and social media are proliferating, who, except worried journalists, has the time to ponder the future of news?

Maybe that’s about to change. Certainly, plenty of people sat up, listened and took note last week when Rupert Murdoch gave his view that mobile phones and devices – like the vaunted new iPad – will be lifeless without content.

Of course there will be no shortage of people who insist there is plenty of quality content out there without newspapers. Oh really?

Next time you hear that spurious load of old tosh (which you inevitably will) refer the naysayer to this research by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The findings, as it happens, are from David Simon’s very own patch in Baltimore. And the results are inarguable. There may be hundreds of places to go for news but virtually all of it – 95% – is still being generated by those much, maligned, nearing-extinction, unloved and unwanted newspaper hacks.

Finally the research is backing up what every traditional and mainstream journalists has been saying for a long while.

Yes, there is plenty of content out there, but if you want news, then you need professionals to seek it out, collect it, verify it and present it – and as David Simon points out, hold the powers that be to account.

On a recent editonof the Quiet News Day podcast, I found myself agreeing with Shaun Milne when he said that Rupert Murdoch might yet be an unlikely saviour of journalism, with his crusade to ensure quality news content is paid for.

Now I find myself sympathising with the Dirty Digger again  – but it is not just mobile devices that will be lifeless without news content.


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