Nick Davies and Andy Worthington debate “Is print media dying a slow death?” in Brighton, Wednesday October 27, 2010

21.10.10

Debate: Is print media dying a slow death? If so, what is the future of respectable journalism? With Nick Davies, Andy Worthington, Dr. An Nguyen and Paula O’Shea
Where: Red Roaster Coffee Shop, 1d St. James’s Street, Brighton, BN2 1RE
When: Wednesday October 27, 2010, 7.30 pm

Next Wednesday I’ll be in Brighton for a fascinating debate organized by The Badger, the magazine of the University of Sussex Students’ Union, asking, “Is print media dying a slow death? If so, what is the future of respectable journalism?”

From the traditional media, the star panellist is Nick Davies of the Guardian, an investigative journalist for whom I have an enormous amount of respect. I first encountered Nick’s work in 1985, when he was one of the few journalists to cover the Battle of the Beanfield, the brutal assault on Britain’s traveller/protest movement, directed by Margaret Thatcher after her success in crushing the Miners’ Strike the year before, and I hope that I was able to thank him for his work when I compiled my book The Batttle of the Beanfield in 2005.

With an admirable record of investigative journalism — including a detailed analysis of Britain’s prison system a few years ago, and a central role this year in exposing the News of the World phone-hacking scandal — Nick epitomizes the strengths of the mainstream media over the new media, by putting serious money into detailed, long-term investigative journalism. However, as he explained in his best-selling book Flat Earth News, cost-cutting has dealt a savage blow to the authority of traditional print journalism, leading to the rise of what he calls “churnalism” (the largely unmediated recycling of press releases and PR stories), and investigative journalism, and the most basic reporting on everyday events in the courts, in councils, and in other places where scrutiny is required, has suffered as a result.

In debating Nick, I come not to bury print journalism, but to explain how the new media offers fresh opportunities as the world of professional journalists shrinks, and I’ll be drawing on my own experiences as an independent investigative reporter, focusing on Guantánamo and related issues, describing the self-starting opportunities of blogging, how bloggers are filling some of those holes left by traditional journalism’s retreat from everyday reporting, and how bloggers can also maintain a focus on issues of importance that the rolling 24-hour news culture ignores. I’ll also talk about the democratizing influence of the Internet, building up an audience on the Internet, and seeking out new media outlets establishing viable economic models through subscribers and donations rather than through advertising.

I look forward to a lively discussion, not only with Nick, but also with Dr. An Nguyen, Senior Lecturer in New Media/Journalism Studies at the University of Sussex, and Paula O’Shea, director of Brighton Journalist Works, and a tutor on the Journalism MA at Sussex.

It should be a great evening, so please come along if you’re in the area.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), and my definitive Guantánamo habeas list, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

2 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, David Silver wrote:

    Wish I could be there in my old Graham Greene-esque resort haunt – I lived in Lancing – but can’t make it now from Manhattan – but best wishes to you – I’m sure the debate will be acute and useful in the urgent fight against the diminution of meaningful non-ADD news coverage….

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Jabril Mujahid-Alexander wrote:

    It appears that dwindling advertising dollars, the boom in more effcient information outlets coupled with the “I need it Now” menatality of today’s world spells doom for the newspaper industry. Print media as a whole may be in trouble, but I think it is the daily newspapers that will be extinct in the next 20 years or less.

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Andy Worthington

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