The House of Lords has heard evidence about the future of journalism from a Bournemouth University lecturer and former BBC journalist.
Dr Graham Majin, who is a lecturer in Documentary Journalism at BU, told the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee: “We should teach young people how to think critically, and how to make reasoned judgements based on evidence. Instead of teaching which news brands are most trustworthy, we should teach a prudent distrust of all journalism. Journalism should be understood, not as a tribal gospel of truth which the morally good should believe, but rather as the testimony of fallible human beings, who may – or may not – be motivated to tell us the truth.”
The report itself examines issues caused by the dramatic changes in journalism. It explains that, “the production and consumption of journalism have been transformed in the first 20 years of this century. The circulation of UK national and regional print newspapers and monthly consumer print magazines have fallen dramatically... This change in the business model of journalism has created an existential threat to the industry, particularly combined with a host of other challenges ranging from a surge in ‘fake news’ to the ability of giant technology platforms such as Facebook and Google to undercut the power of publishers and their revenues."
Dr Majin concludes: “Students should learn that credulity is a vice, and that reasonable incredulity is a virtue. Students should understand the importance of journalism to democracy. They should learn that all this requires time and effort. They should unlearn epistemic laziness. They should learn that facts are not the same things as opinions, and that there are always many conflicting opinions.”
Dr Graham Majin's research focuses on how the concept of truth is understood differently by audiences, journalists and academics. His interests are inter-disciplinary and examine issues of media literacy, journalistic theory and fake news. Graham has more than 20 years' experience working in TV news as an on-screen reporter, news editor and senior producer – including 14 years at BBC News.