News World - The
By Patrick Stoddart
Ever since 1995, the News
World conference has been bringing together the most important editors, reporters,
and manufacturers in the international broadcast news industry.
Its purpose was simple,
and growing in importance every year - to debate the impact advancing technology
was having on the quality of their journalism, to agree on common practises over
safety in the field, and to argue over the ethics of the trade with politicians,
NGOs and all those other groups whose lives and professions are affected by the
way we report them.
But until last year, I
think we were missing a trick. Why weren't we inviting journalism students from
around the world to tap into the huge pool of power, experience, and influence
that came together under our roof? We attract people who by and large have little
time to spend even with students in their home countries, let alone from other
corners of the world.
At our 2002 conference,
in Dublin last November, we took a modest first step in the right direction by
launching The Next Generation, enabling around 80 students to participate in our
main debates and attend a series of exclusive master classes given by leading
figures from right across the industry.
Salim Amin, boss of Africa's
largest news agency, Camerapix, discussed the challenges of covering a continent
of such vast size and political and ethnic divergence. Andrew Kain, founder of
the hostile environment training company AKE, described the growing dangers facing
journalists in the field and Sony demonstrated leading-edge news camera and editing
technologies. We looked at ways some universities are now taking their communications
skills off campus and turning private study into public service, and asked whether
journalism courses are turning out the candidates the ever-changing news industry
needs. And we wound up the strand with a masterclass for every delegate to News
World - a screening of the extraordinary Brook Lapping documentary on President
Bush's coalition against terror, followed by an explanation of the way its makers
turned heads of state into talking heads and put together their own coalition
of production partners to pay for it all.
Most heartening of all,
perhaps, was the warmth and enthusiasm with which the Next Generation program
was received by regular News World delegates. Chris Cramer, CEO of CNNI, and BBC
head of news Richard Sambrook, both offered to talk to the Next Generation students
and there was general agreement that their voices added an important new dimension
to the debates.
It was, in truth, a tentative
first step. Virtually all of the students came from two sources - London's University
of Westminster, where News World academic advisor Rob Brown is a lecturer, and
the Dublin Institute of Technology, whose journalism head Michael Foley offered
us invaluable support and advice. On the other hand, the students themselves came
from across the globe and will take their experiences back to Scandinavia, mainland
Europe, China, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
Our goal for 2003 is to
find ways to make it possible for students and lecturers to travel to Dublin from
universities further afield and to participate in an extended program of informal
lectures, debates, and demonstrations. With the dust of war still settling, there
has never been a moment in our nine-year history when the standards of practices
of broadcast journalism were in greater need of debate, and the lessons we learn
in Dublin, between October 21and 23, should be passed on to the next generation
of journalists who will have to live by them. TBS
Patrick Stoddart is editorial
director of News World.