By Sara Paciaroni.
Strathclyde Journalism students attended the News Academy’s annual conference at Glasgow’s Guildhall on January 30 to learn about professional experiences in the media industry.
Scottish Sun’s Editor, Alan Muir, opened the conference, welcoming university and high-school students from across Scotland. “We’ve got more aspiring journalists in this room than we’ve ever had before …. It shows one thing: journalism is not dead, it’s very much alive, and it’s thriving”, said Muir.
The editor continued painting a positive picture for journalism in Scotland. “Print is not dead,” he said. Muir mapped out that newspaper circulation in Scotland is still at good levels, while digital subscriptions are growing quickly and insisted on a positive future for those aspiring a career in reporting.
Kaye Adams, presenter and talk show host at the BBC, discussed the changes in journalism since she started working as a trainee for Central TV years ago. “Journalism is about storytelling, it’s about engaging an audience thinking about what is actually going to touch people, that is always going to be at the heart of journalism, regardless of how much the technology and the editorial slang change.”
“Checking the story out” is another foundation of journalism according to Adams. Despite its value, its undertaking is an ever- greater difficulty in the digital age, “online platforms are ‘hungry’ for stories”, leaving no time to verify a story and likely representing only one version of the truth. “I have to say (this) is something I am quite concerned about”, stated Adams.
A panel debate around the issue of fake news followed. According to Sam Poling, an investigative journalist at BBC, the journalist should act as a “firewall”. “But in digital media there is no firewall and information is reaching people much quicker, much easier and it’s up to them whether they check it or not”, she said.
Magnus Llewellin, editor at The Times Scotland, said “Fake news spreads distrust, undermining the credibility of recognised news sources, so that people don’t know what to believe.” “It is an issue,” continued Llewellin “but it is also an opportunity for us to promote the values that come with recognised publications.”
Breakout sessions followed the panel, giving groups of students, a chance to talk to professional journalists. Among these was Rachel Mains, second year Journalism and Creative Writing student at Strathclyde, who has been working as a digital reporter at the Scottish Sun for the past two years.