Rory Cellan-Jones: From typewritter to Twitter

Glyn and Rory
Rory Cellan-Jones with our very own Glyn Mottershead

Today (10 November, 2009) the BBC’s technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, kindly spoke to us in between filming in the morning and chairing an event at the Welsh Assembly in the evening.

Admittedly using a Powerpoint presentation from 2008, we soon forgave Rory, as like he said, nothing has changed much.

Rory gave us an insight into the journalism of the 1980s and compared this to contemporary journalism. While I am aware of how the profession has changed, it was very interesting listening to the past from Rory’s perspective.

A big difference, of course, is the audience. In the 1980s the audience was huge and the only competition the BBC really faced was from ITN.

However, there was not much connection with the audience; no email, text or internet that today’s audience have at their disposal.

This was the age of the “Famous Five“: Robert Kee, David Frost, Angela Rippon, Anna Ford and Michael Parkinson. They were the people who pioneered TV-am, the first breakfast television station.

A small army was needed to report a story; producers, reporters, editors and a small array of craftworkers.

In my opinion, contemporary journalism is undoubtedly a much slicker operation that the journalism of the 1980s. Rory explained that the modern journalist is multi-skilled, interactive with their audience, and can happily work as both a lone wolf and as a team player.

The contemporary landscape is much more different too. There are hundreds of channels, 24-hour news services, online resources, newspapers are in retreat and jobs are disappearing.

The contemporary audience is fragmented, interactive with what they view, and citizen journalists. User generated content (UGC) comes in many forms, from photos posted on Flickr to blogs. Making your opinion heard has become incredibly easy.

So, in this this age where journalism is changing and the future remains uncertain, what advice can be given to the journalists of tomorrow? Rory, a self-confessed classic “one medium person”, had these gems of wisdom:

  • Have one core skill – be it as a writer, designer etc.
  • Develop a specialism
  • “Do be cynical at how much technology will change what we do”

And, bearing in mind the last point, have a good grip on the older journalistic values:

  • Write well
  • Know the top line
  • Know the story
  • Know the law
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3 thoughts on “Rory Cellan-Jones: From typewritter to Twitter”

  1. Claire, I am incredibly jealous that you have already posted about this lecture, and so well!

    I am also incredibly jealous that you went to Glastonbury this year..are you going next year? I have my ticket – we could be Glasto buddies!
    I have done a bit of stalking of you…as you can see 🙂 xx

  2. Why thank you Miss Harrison.

    I do have a ticket 🙂 I’m going with my brother, his friends and my boyfriend. We can definitely be Glasto buddies! It was the first time I’d been this year and it was great fun. Finding out about the hot spicy cider was great fun too! xx

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