Tuesday, June 15, 2010...9:00 am

#VOJ10: What’s the value of journalism? Communication vs Journalism

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In association with the Martin Cloake blog

Yesterday, media blogger Martin Cloake argued for a definition of standards to separate “journalism” from simply sounding off. My view is that it’s all very well going on about the importance of quality in journalism practice, but the audience (arguably the most important component of the media process) isn’t really that bothered.

Quite rightly, Martin followed up by pointing out the difference between literacy and expertise and communication. Some of the best communicators in journalism aren’t necessarily known for the beauty of their prose (though you do need sub-editors to rectify that).


The media is losing sight of its communication role

Your horse-racing friend certainly illustrates the difference between expertise and communication. Journalism, when it works, manages to distill knowledge into communication and convey it to the reader. But it so often fails, because journalists are often not good at it (especially when there’s a science/finance angle).

And your other point – that there is an editorial machine capable of turning the straw of rough reporting into the gold of finished journalism – is proving increasingly problematic.

Sadly, the trend of thinking that subs are superfluous and that publications don’t need them is starting to reveal the cracks in that old-style editorial model (just take a look at the Independent). At best, subs are the people who upload content to the web and handle the prepress, but who have little say in the way that stories are communicated.

(Continued on the Martin Cloake blog tomorrow morning)

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