News:Rewired: The future of journalism from Drones to the hashtag election


The use of drones, wearable devices and the challenges of reporting on the first ‘hashtag election’ were all topics up for discussion at the News:Rewired conference this month.

Held at the swanky offices of MSN in Victoria, the conference was a chance for industry experts, newspaper representatives from both nationals and regionals and journalism trainers to discuss the future of the industry.

The opening keynote speech was delivered by the Guardian’s digital head honcho Aron Pilhofer who declared ‘we’re all in this together’ when it comes to the divisive topic of print v digital.

He said the Guardian was now exploring different ways of measuring success with a bigger emphasis on more than just visitor numbers.

“Every newsroom should have some not so bullshit metrics to check the health of the product,” he said.

Joanna Geary, head of the newsroom partnerships at Twitter UK, gave a fascinating insight into how using the social media site’s advanced search options to engage better with tweeters.

She also warned against news organisations thinking about what they want, instead urging them to think about how young people talk on Twitter giving them access to people who perhaps fall through the net when it comes to engagement from newspapers.

The use of drones and other technologies was discussed in depth by a range of speakers, including the Manchester Evening News’ Paul Gallagher whose publication has used Google Glass to great effect, interviewing convicted criminals outside court, touring the lavish facilities at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium and filming interviews with the Harlem Globetrotters.

Gallagher and fellow panelist Ben Kreimer, from the Drone Journalism Lab in the US, discussed and demonstrated the use of drones with Kreimer showing off some of his previous work including a video for AfricaSkyCam looking at the issue of poaching and footage from an Indian football match.

One of the most eagerly-anticipated sessions was on how various news outlets were tackling the forthcoming General Election with BuzzFeed’s Jim Waterson, the BBC’s Mark Frankel, the MEN’s Sarah Lester and the Guardian’s Alberto Nardelli posing a number of interesting questions for delegates to consider.

The use of data journalism in the election is going to be key all the panelists agreed but Nardelli warned against just throwing numbers and facts at readers while Lester stressed the need to tailor resources to the audience.

Frankel said media organisations such as the BBC had an important role in filtering the ‘noise’ generated by social media, especially when impartiality is key.

He said: “The BBC has to take balance very seriously in political elections – if you’re going to be tweeting for Ed Miliband’s conference, do you try to balance out for other politicians?”

The conference certainly gave me food for thought in terms of future training developments here at News Associates and the attention has already turned to the forthcoming election, which trainees across both our centres will be reporting on for Mancunian Matters and South West Londoner.

* Andrew Greaves is the Head of Journalism at News Associates in Manchester.
He is a political journalist whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications from the regional press to the Guardian and the Economist. Andrew is a member of the NCTJ’s public affairs board.