Lecture to Falmouth

Here is the fullish text of my talk to Falmouth, although I did veer off piste, as usual, so there might be some things I said that aren’t here, and others I missed out – still you get the gist….


Continue Reading May 8, 2009 at 5:25 pm 9 comments

On the death of paid writing and bangle making

Ian Jack wrote a piece for the Guardian at the weekend, which is a little bit like Clay Shirky’s “everything is broken” piece though less well projected. I think this piece on the rise of the gifted amateur (again, echoing Clay’s by now fairly ancient essay on the fame vs fortune model) is a significant piece, in particular this conclusion about educating creative writers and journalists in a “dying craft”:

‘A great paradox of the age is that while newspapers continue their inexorable decline and publishing cuts its costs, journalism and creative writing degrees have never been more popular…

…Why do young people apply? Because they think they can be the next Zadie Smith. Why do universities encourage them? Because money can be made from fees. Is this responsible behaviour? We need to weigh the smashed hopes of creative writers against the financial needs of their tutors, who are themselves writers, and earning the kind of money that writing would never supply. A closed little dance: tutors teach students who in turn teach other students, like silversmiths in a medieval guild where a bangle is rarely bought though many are crafted, and everyone lives in a previous world.’

This is a very good and thought provoking piece and I know nothing about the employability or commercial viability of writers, which Jack talks eloquently about. He could be right, but I feel it bears a weight of discouraging pessimism which could be overdone. He is right if for instance journalism courses do not adapt to the future rather than reflect the past, their courses will not be worth taking. But as a counterpoint I was struck by the students in Falmouth, where I gave a talk this week, who were engaged in highly entrepreneurial activities, some setting up their own sites and businesses, one impressively training journalists at ground level in Iraq in basic multimedia skills. I’m sure there are dozens of examples of similar thinking among the trained ‘digital natives’, they won’t save the old business model but they can create their own.

May 8, 2009 at 5:22 pm Leave a comment


Just leafing through the latest ‘State of The News Media ‘ from Pew…at a time when everything is so depressing in terms of downwards trends it’s nice to see a chart like this……

Continue Reading March 17, 2009 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

The First Post

Good day and welcome

With so much type, pixels, order papers, human energy and advisers’ time expended on the subject of ‘public service content’, I though it would be interesting (if only for myself) to try and blog the best of web public service content – whatever that might be.

It’s a good day to bury psb content I see as the BBC is going to have its wingspan clipped by David Cameron:

David Cameron provoked a row with the BBC yesterday by calling for it to “lead by example” in the economic downturn and freeze the licence fee for a year. The Tory leader said that in the current climate all taxpayer-funded institutions had to show that they could “live within their means”. But the BBC Trust said: “Unplanned reductions in the licence fee could put services at risk, which would not be in the interests of licence fee payers.” Cameron was also criticised by EU commission president José Manuel Barroso for his decision to leave a key centre-right group in the EU parliament. (Guardian 17th March 2009)

Continue Reading March 17, 2009 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

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