Blowing open the News (by huff and by puff)

The global news arena has been pretty murky in recent months, made so most notably by the News International investigations centred in the UK which had ramifications for newsrooms around the world.  Interesting then to see the wind of change blowing yesterday – again, from the UK – signalling the latest shift in ‘the way things are done’.

First from BBC World Service, a live broadcast (available as recording now) of their daily morning editorial meeting which I believe, could be useful listening for some.

In years gone by, journalists frequently migrated to public relations roles bringing with them an insider’s view as to the workings of the newsroom, editorial bun-fights and the speed of operation necessary when dealing with rapidly unfolding events.

Today’s practitioners tend to make public relations and communication management  their ‘first choice’, studying at university before directly entering the profession. Generally, this means no experience inside the newsroom, so for them, and for others, like me, who migrated to public relations after a career in journalism many years ago, the BBC’s audio is a useful heads-up as to what can occur.

The other one to watch (rather than listen to) is the Guardian’s new ‘open journalism’ advert centred around the story of the Three Little Pigs and designed to promote the publication’s take on the route to sustainable journalism of the future or #opennews.

Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian, has said the future impact of journalism will be measured – or constrained – by how transparent and open it is, something with which I completely agree.

For practitioners, an important detail to note comes right at the end of the ad – underneath the Guardian banner are the four little words: web|print|tablet|mobile – and therein lies the rub. As practitioners we need to be equally adept at telling stories, broadcasting news and presenting the whole picture across many formats. And – with no huff and puff – being just as transparent and open.

In professional development sessions at PRiNZ we’ve been helping delegates tackle the migration from text to multi-channel formats for some time, exploring how we can create understanding through news stories that move away from text to other forms of engagement.  Certainly then, some good food for thought as we watch publications like the Guardian embrace 21st century news presentation.

On a lighter note, I was chuffed to see the Three Little Pigs pressed into action as the base for their story – this porcine portrayal has featured in a practical exercise for the Writing Skills course for a while – nothing like changing the way we view something we know well  in order to improve understanding of an issue – and maybe save some bacon in the process.

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