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down on new technology

Bosses let journalists 
down on new technology

6 December 2007

Employers are putting quality journalism under threat by failing to invest in the journalists who staff their multi-media newsrooms.

The commission on multimedia working, established by the NUJ to investigate the implications of media convergence, has found widespread concern about the impact of new media working on journalistic standards.

The report, Shaping The Future, follows months of consultation with journalists. It found the large sums spent on new technology hardware had not been matched by investment in journalism.

The document welcomes the possibilities offered by the internet and new media to engage new audiences in lively and high quality journalism, but says many journalists are worried about the impact these sectors will have on their professional standards.

Journalists interviewed provided details of every-day difficulties in dealing with these technologies – including demands to produce more content for more outlets without any extra journalistic resources.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said:

"Journalists from all sectors of the industry are excited about the possibilities, but concerned about the pressures, that come from under-resourced moves to multimedia working.
"What is clear is that new technology isn't to blame. The fault is with its appropriation by short-sighted media employers. Instead of seizing the opportunity to enhance journalistic content and build and maintain quality media, many simply seize the opportunity to reduce costs and boost profits, viewing the erosion of quality journalism as a necessary sacrifice."

Helene Mulholland is NUJ rep at the Guardian/Guardian Unlimited and a member of the commission. She was involved in striking a landmark deal on integration of print and online newsrooms.

She said:

"Our deal with the Guardian shows the move to multimedia working can be done in co-operation with journalists, rather than being imposed from above. What is clear for newsrooms everywhere is that journalism faces a bleak future unless media managers wake up to the need to invest in their most important assets: their journalists.
"The UK and Ireland have a solid reputation for quality journalism and the internet has the potential to open up our work to new audiences, both at home and abroad. We need to ensure that we maintain the standards that people expect."

Tags: , new media, technology, multimedia, newspapers, broadcasting