Media futures

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I was asked to speak last night at “Crisis in Journalism”, an NUJ event for students. My brief was to give a perspective on life as a freelance journalist. RTÉ’s Colm O’Mongain spoke about broadcasting, Noirin Hegarty spoke about print and online, and Barry McCall gave an overview of the industry in Ireland.

Usually I’m the pessimist at these things, but I was a little chirpier than usual last night. I also rambled a bit, but one of the things that occurred to me is that the panel didn’t really have too much of a clue about the future. No one in journalism saw twitter’s potential five years ago, and people embedded inside journalism aren’t really best placed to spot the trends that will shape the future. We did things like speculate on whether newspapers will still exist in ten years, which kind of misses the point.

So I told the students to take anything we said with a grain of salt. We are stuck in our ways. They don’t have the preconceptions we have.

I’m a dinosaur. If you’re a student, keep an open mind about the future. You’re one of those nimble rodents who will survive the meteor.

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By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.