Stewart Purvis: British journalism is better than it used to be

From a speech by the professor of television journalism at City University

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Is British journalism getting better or worse - or is it about the same? Golden ages often look a bit tarnished when you look back at them. For instance, a flagship TV news programme in 1965 had one presenter, one interviewer, one voice-over, one pundit and one reporter. Peter Snow did very well to keep it all together. And the newspaper equivalents are similarly uninspiring by today's standards.

Viewing the programme and looking at the papers from 1965, frankly, I found much of it boring in content and presentation. The long view must surely be that the technical revolution in production has made the news media more accessible and, yes, more attractive too.

But has the emphasis on presentation gone too far? Personally, and speaking as an unashamed "packager", I think some sections of the news media have pushed it about as far as it's sane and sensible to push it. Have they crossed the line? No. Are they on the line? Most definitely, yes.

I'm a glass half-full rather than half-empty man when it comes to the journalism. I'm bullish about much of Britain's political broadcast journalism and about much of the specialist journalism which has flourished with the new outlets in print and broadcasting - and also the investigative journalism which I couldn't find much sign of in 1965 in the British Museum Newspaper Library. But maybe that's too long a long view.

What about a much shorter term view from those setting out hoping for a career in the media by taking a post-graduate diploma in journalism here at City University? They are still enthusiastic about journalism and they are informed by, and not depressed by, the current ethical debates. Among our international students, especially those from countries that don't enjoy our press freedoms, I find a reassuring excitement at the range and vitality of the British media.

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