I’ve had the good luck to happen to be in Copenhagen today and hence to be able to attend “What Professional Journalism Means for Democracy”, run by Berlingske Media – the mainstream media group behind broadsheet Berlingske and tabloid B.T. A few of the people here – Astrid Haug and Mathias Østerlund – are folks I’ve met previously.
The topic of the seminar, implied by the title, is to show the enduring value of the mainstream media, especially in Denmark where state funding is under threat as outlined at the start of the day by new Culture Minister Uffe Elbæk.
The day has distilled all of the tensions in the future of the media business into one room. Anne McElvoy from The Economist has so far given the most traditional presentation, defending the value of the MSM, stating that “bloggers have no serious intention”, and supporting the idea proposed by Berlingske editor Lisbeth Knudsen that media needs some sort of quality certification to show it’s level of trustworthiness. This idea I reject categorically – that a foodstuff contains a certain level of fat is something that can be proven scientifically, but how do you do the same for media? The fact that someone from Berlingske is even having to propose such a mark shows how low the mainstream media has sadly sunk.
Thankfully the panel with two politicians – Søren Pind and Ida Auken – brought some sense to the event. The top soundbite came from Pind, saying “The media? Objective? Oh, come on!” and drawing nervous laughs all round. Auken also underlined how, armed with a smart phone, she could report onto Youtube faster than any mainstream media could. Auken even stated she needed to dumb down what she says for the sake of the MSM.
Anyway, that’s all for the moment… I have to head out for a short meeting, back at Berlingske for a cup of coffee later!