SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE: THE ROLE OF QUALITY JOURNALISM IN THE AGE OF TECHNOLOGY

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE: THE ROLE OF QUALITY JOURNALISM IN THE AGE OF TECHNOLOGY

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In this era of instant news, where eye-witness tweets can become international news within minutes, the idea of breaking a story without the use of digital technology is a novelty – if not completely unrealistic.

When the printed page was still the primary means of staying informed about world events, journalists often had to go to great lengths to report on major stories of the day. The Times Newseum, a new exhibit opening today at the Wilson Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, examines news gathering in the pre-computer age and reminds us that, not so long ago, we were dependent on the extraordinary, and often heroic, efforts of correspondents to bring us the latest scoop.

One example at the exhibit describes how a report on the siege of Khartoum in 1884 didn’t reach the paper for six years. After regional telegraph lines were cut, Times correspondent Frank Power hired a runner to deliver details of the event and military actions in the area. Although captured en route, the runner managed to hide the report in a wall and, once released, delivered the ill-fated reporter’s account to the paper in 1890 – long after Power was killed in the conflict.

This story emphasises the incredible odds that journalists still sometimes face to deliver our headlines and reminds us how even today – despite how social media and online technology have changed how we gather news – many correspondents put their lives on the line to report on stories in Syria, Egypt and other danger spots around the world. As newspapers continue to move from print to digital, it’s important to recognise that there is no substitute for quality content and that top journalists in the field continue to be at the heart of news gathering.

Read all about it! The secrets behind the news since 1785 is at the Wilson Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum from 4 October to 4 November.