Newsworks’ Insight Director Denise Turner writes about her experiences at the Reuters Institute’s London Event: Rethinking Journalism Inside and Outside the Newsroom.
This week I had the privilege of attending a live journalism show run by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) in the very impressive surroundings of the Royal Society.
The RISJ have a fellowship programme, where journalists from all around the world take a few months away from the daily pressure of deadlines to reflect and research. They examine the key issues facing the news industry, before returning to their respective newsrooms.
14 journalists from 13 countries across 3 continents discussed the future of journalism from a personal perspective. They told the stories of how their time at the RISJ had helped them to redefine their mission.
As each of them told their stories, some key themes emerged for me, all of them linked to each other.
It was evident from many of the individual presentations that quality journalism takes time, effort and money. In a world where everyone expects everything to be instantaneous, this was a reminder that journalists can help us take a step back, to not just report something, but guide the understanding of the why behind the what.
In the era of fake news and growing cynicism, it is vital to focus on the value that quality journalism brings to society. It provides clarity, laying out the facts for people to assess. But more than that, building and maintaining trust requires an emotional connection, and that’s what journalism offers.
Several of the journalists talked about the responsibility they feel to the people they serve. This ranged from being really clear about the audience for whom they are writing, to surfacing injustice, breaking away from stereotypes, and telling it like it really is. One speaker has set herself the challenge “What have I done to change the narrative?” And another talked about her role to act “bravely and freely”.
There was a clear sense that journalism is as much – if not more – about listening as it is about writing, or speaking. One of the speakers talked about ‘deep listening’ and quoted the late American composer Pauline Oliveros “Walk so silently that the bottom of your feet become ears”. Another talked about a deeper understanding of community in today’s world.
One element that came through really strongly for me was the role of journalism in telling people’s stories, giving them airtime in the public arena and making a difference. One speaker said “Stories matter to someone”.
It reminded me of some of the amazing work our UK news brands do in campaigning to make a difference. If you want to know more about these campaigns, read our write-up of some of the newspaper’s Christmas appeals this festive season and of a recent industry event, where we hosted various panel discussions featuring journalists who help make a difference.