They said all the right things
March 4, 2013 by Grace Franklin
Monday 4 March 2013
The future of printed media was debated at the University of Glasgow this evening with alumni Andrew Neil chairing the distinguished panel. They comprised: Allan Rennie, editor-in-chief of Media Scotland, publishers of the Daily Record and the Sunday Mail; Bobby Hain, director of channels for STV; Kirsten Morrison, Head of Digital (Newspaper) at DC Thomson and Professor Philip Schlesinger from the Centre for Cultural Policy Research at the University of Glasgow.
As circulation figures for most print editions of newspapers continue to tumble, the panel considered the impact of digitalisation on traditional media and on the wider business community.
Said journalist and broadcaster Andrew Neil who claimed that when he was a student at Glasgow University he was never allowed to enter Bute Hall where the debate took place: ‘More people are reading newspapers and magazines than ever before – just not as printed products. The challenge is to develop new revenue streams around the new digital delivery. Some of the dead-tree press will succeed, some won’t. The failures will die. But the digital market is already being flooded with new entrants. So it is a time for optimism.’
The panel agreed with his stance. Allan Rennie said that as the recession bit in Scotland, more people were using the new media as part of their lifestyle. He said the Sunday Mail, a Media Scotland flagship title, had 3.2 million users on its site.
Bobby Hain considered television was better placed to deliver digital media with a headstart in ‘moving pictures.’ He also mentioned that the digital mediums allowed ‘people to give you stuff without you having to make it yourself!’ Proud of STV’s output of 20 different local news sites and tv channels projected for Glasgow and Edinburgh next year, he said the digital mindset had to be worked at by those who just looked at ‘the box in the corner of the room.’
Kirsten Morrison admitted she was ‘unusual’ because she’d returned to DCThomson and its digital set up after years working on ‘red top’ newspapers. ‘There is a cultural shift and we have to utilise the online content to make money,’ she said. The company’s famous Beano comic is now available only online.
Professor Schlesinger studies how people use digital content and calibrates the findings. He emphasised the importance of a ‘range of voices’ and ‘solid, high-end journalism.’
Opened and closed by University Principal, Anton Muscatelli, the debate was attended by several hundred people and many questions were asked. But there were no fireworks or simple answers.