Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Leonard Downie Jr and ‘The New News’

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 22nd September, 2010

The veteranm foreign correspondent James Cameron died 25 yeara ago and the world of journalism has changed unrecognisably in the interim. That fact was marked in a lecture by the Vice-President at Large of the Washington Post newspaper, Leonard Downie Jr, at City University, London, this evening. It is not just the speed of news transmission which has changed (actually something Downie hardly touched on), but the decline in the dominance of discrete media such as newspapers, radio and television and the seemingly unstoppable rise of online (‘new’) media. There are good sides to that, as others have pointed out, relating to so-called ‘citizen journalism’. But there are also bad aspects, not least the unreliability or shere bias of so much that is available online. Moreover, those people fortunate to be paid, full-time journalists or broadcasters these days are expected to multitask across a wide range of media and outlets. I suspect that had James Cameron been alive today, he would have packed up his journalist’s kit and written more books intead. There was quite a lot that was interesting in Downie’s lecture, but nothing especially new or thought-provoking. And it was so long that he had to canter through it at such a pace that it allowed little time for thought, let alone reflection; a bit of judicious editing would have helped.

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2 Responses to “Leonard Downie Jr and ‘The New News’”

  1. John Oakes said

    I remember James Cameron with great affection: Sundays were not Sundays without my father’s pre-prandial oration on foreign affairs, The Observer clenched firmly in his left hand, quoting liberally from James Cameron’s latest despatch from e.g. Dien Bien Phu.

    So, by proxy, Cameron formed my early, compassionate view of world politics.

    A few years later, as Programme Secretary of the Cambridge University United Nations Association ,I was able to invite Cameron to address us in the Union debating chamber, to great acclaim.

  2. […] who write for a living don’t always make the best public speakers and I certainly agree with Jonathan Fryer that “a bit of judicious editing would have helped”. However, there were some interesting nuggets of knowledge and […]

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