Weak web journalism blamed on employers

Employers are putting quality journalism under threat, by failing to put sufficient investment into the journalists who staff their multi-media newsrooms.

That’s the finding of an NUJ report published today.

The Commission on Multimedia Working, established by the NUJ to investigate the implications of media convergence, has found widespread concern about the impact of new media working on journalistic standards.

The report, called Shaping the Future, follows months of consultation with journalists working across the industry. It finds that the significant sums that have been spent on new technology haven’t been matched by investment in journalism.

The document welcomes the possibilities offered by the internet and media convergence, highlighting their potential to engage new audiences in lively and high quality journalism. However, it also finds that many journalists are worried about the impact they will have on their professional standards.

The report includes numerous examples provided by journalists dealing with these technologies everyday. Trends include demands to produce more content for more outlets without the provision of any extra journalistic resources, which is often felt to have a detrimental effect on quality.

NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: “Journalists from all sectors of the industry are excited about the possibilities but concerned about the pressures that come from under-resourced moves to multimedia working.

“What is clear is that new technology isn’t to blame. The faultline is with its appropriation by short-sighted media employers. Instead of seizing the opportunity to enhance journalistic content and build and maintain quality media, many simply seize the opportunity to reduce costs and boost profits, viewing the erosion of quality journalism as a necessary sacrifice.”

Helene Mulholland is NUJ rep at the Guardian/Guardian Unlimited and a member of the Commission. She was involved in striking a landmark deal on integration of print and online newsrooms.

She said: “Our deal with the Guardian shows that the move to multimedia working can be done in cooperation with journalists, rather than being imposed from above. What’s clear for newsrooms everywhere is that journalism faces a bleak future unless media managers wake up to the need to invest in their most important assets: their journalists.”

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Click here to read the NUJ’s full report online

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