‘Print journalism is more prestigious than online'So two thirds of greatreporter.com's readers say that print journalism is still more prestigious than its online counterpart. An interesting result from a website dedicated to showcasing the work of budding reporters and photographers.

Sixty-six per cent of readers agreed with that statement, and only one quarter disagreed.

You might have expected a web audience to be more pro-internet, but apparently not. Nevertheless, I was glad to see that greatreporter.com presented a decent defence of web journalism courtesy of some online news stalwarts.

"Great journalism should be celebrated on whatever platform," said Pete Clifton, editor-in-chief of BBC News Interactive.

"There are things which make online journalism particularly exciting. The immediacy, the ability to make it interactive and to get readers involved in dynamic ways, for example."

And Guardian Unlimited's editor-in-chief Emily Bell: "With audiences, ideas and journalistic formats developing more quickly online than off, journalists who really think print is more prestigious are going to find the next decade stressful and disappointing in equal measure."

'Print journalism is more prestigious than online'

If prestige were measured by audience numbers alone, online journalism would win hands down.

I doubt any newspaper has exploited its online brand as dramatically as the Guardian; print readership hovering at about 360,000 - and more than 10.1 million readers online.

But there's always one. The Telegraph's foreign manager Paul Hill: "Online hacks seem to be a younger, graduate breed who, dare I say, scour the internet rather than their own experiences as a reporter, for knowledge."

"I rather think, for example, that doors would open more readily for the Daily Telegraph in corridors of power rather than for Get Your News Here Dot Com."

That's the kind of sweeping generalisation that would be made by someone who doesn't understand what they are talking about.

As we know, the 'corridors of power' in the US are already opening up to bloggers, who have been granted White House press passes and press accreditation for the political conventions.

It's far easier to dismiss something new than to take the time to learn about it.

On a similar tack, I was pretty disappointed with John Humphrys on the Today programme this morning talking to Rebecca Jones about the Turner Prize shortlist.

Whether he was playing devil's advocate or not, trundling out the old 'but is it art' debate is just infuriating. How can there be a productive, insightful debate about art and ideas when this ignorant, lazy criticism keeps being thrown around?

It's the equivalent of trying to have a political debate and saying 'well, they're all the bloody same'. And I'm quite sure John wouldn't lower himself to that kind of comment when he's talking about politics.

Comments? Email me.


From Lynne Roberts, 15:43 2 June 2005

Turner Prize: I so agree!

Every year, I dread the simplistic, boring and ill-considered editorial coverage that blights this prize.

Even the Guardian (which fancies itself as a bit arty) can't do any better than 'oh look, what a shock, there's no shock this year.'

From Jemima Kiss, 15:55 2 June 2005

'It's not art' is such a frustrating simplification - it obstructs what should be a really interesting debate. I could rant about this for ages but really, I do expect better from John Humphrys. They gave it, what 2 minutes tops? And most of that was fairly dismissive and superficial.

Aside from anything else, art is supposed to be challenging. Art would be culturally redundant if it only existed as pretty furniture. It's about ideas, der.

From Christian Walsh, 10:38 3 June 2005

I think that the competition in writing an engaging and original story is far greater amongst online news sources than in print, because newspapers tend to follow the leader and rehash each other's stories in an attempt to attract ever greater readership.

With online readers accessing their news from multiple sources, usually at no cost, websites are free to pursue their own agenda in a way that print publications cannot. 

The truth is, the internet is just more interesting and diverse than print could ever be. And this is because it is more democratic and not driven by a rigid production schedule.

Also, print publications like to pursue the myth that what they say is based on fact, and that online content has little quality control.

While this is true in some instances, I've worked on enough print publications to know that their quality control is far from watertight!

From Tim Gopsill, 11:53 6 June 2005

Since when was journalism about prestige?

Isn't the yearning for prestige (or, to use the marketing language they prefer, to develop a brand) precisely what's wrong with our more precious (Guardian) or portentous (Sunday Times) broadsheets?

And isn't it precisely what the precisely what the informality of the internet allows it to avoid?

From Michael Boland, 10:18 8 June 2005

This is an excellent topic.

You should also take a look at this forbes.com piece by Arik Hesseldahl that defends online journalism and its ability to get breaking stories out quickly among other things.

His example is interesting: the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative piece in the Willamette Week that first appeared online.

From Jemima Kiss, 12:54 9 June 2005

Absolutely - that's a great piece. And as well as defending the quality and highlighting the commercial advantages of online news, Arik's also asks whether the Pulitzer Committe should recognise web journalism with a dedicated award.

That would be as significant as Rupert Murdoch's speech in April - web journalism would finally have 'arrived'.

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