Why it’s unwise to compare journalists of yesterday and today

I am not immune to indulging in nostalgia, as my recent lament to regional newspapers’ vanishing printing presses shows.

So I will cut Pat Prentice a little slack for his tribute to his friend and colleague David Watts.

It is comforting to wallow in the past, especially when remembering an old pal.

Unfortunately, Pat’s eulogy strayed from fondly remembered times into a bit of a dig at today’s journalists. It received an indignant riposte from my fellow blogger Paul Wiltshire.

Young reporters, in particular, do not deserve unfavourable comparisons with those of a generation ago.

I marvel at their ability to report live for an online audience while also taking notes for a print version of the same story, all the while shooting stills and video and distributing their work via social media.

Back at the office they are required to caption their photos,  write headlines, upload to the web, add links, galleries, social media embeds and maps.

It is a formidable job spec, and by and large it is handled with skill, enthusiasm and good humour.

I do, though, share Pat’s admiration for the craft of sub-editors (I was, ahem, one myself).

Regional newspapers are dispensing with them, and their precious skills.

I do hope some of them find roles in the institutions involved in the training of journalists. They have much to offer.

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About John Wilson

Editor of Hereford Times, Ludlow Advertiser, Stroud News and Journal, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard and Gloucestershire Gazette series. Journalist for more than 30 years.
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