printisdead001

Er, Maybe Print Isn’t Dead After All Then..

Last night I took part in my first ever debate. I was honoured to be asked to speak by the University of St Andrews Debating Society, in support of the motion that Print is Dead.

Also supporting the proposition was Dr. Alistair Duff, Senior Lecturer and Reader in Information and Journalism and Edinburgh Napier University, and Farhan Samanani, a student at the university who stepped in with a brilliant speech at the last minute to cover a late cancellation.

Against were Prof Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of Journalism and Media Studies and director of the Journalism Programme at the University of Witwatersand, Johannesburg, Dr Malcolm Walsby, Lecturer in History at the University of St Andrews and a specialist in the history of the book, and Michael Skapinsker, Assistant Editor of the Financial Times.

The debate took place in St. Andrew’s historic Lower Parliament Hall, so called because the Scottish Parliament met there in 1645 as it was a safe haven from the plague that was sweeping Edinburgh at the time. It was amazing to be seated at the speaker’s table, sipping port with such esteemed company, and absolutely fascinating to hear the arguments on both sides of the motion. It was also great to meet some of the students involved in the debating society who were really friendly and interesting to chat to. It was also great to see such a good turn-out and interest and enthusiasm in the audience.

And I think it’s fair to say that we lost horribly. Despite Dr Duff asking for a show of hands and proving that the majority of students present did not buy a newspaper that morning, the vast majority rejected the motion. As far as print goes, it seems there’s life in the old dog yet!

Having said that, no-one there could deny that things have changed irrevocably when it comes to our reading habits, and I still stand by my argument that we increasingly expect to be able to access information from all over the world in an instant and for that information to be personalised – and we can only do this digitally.  I’ll be posting a short summary of my speech and a few other thoughts on the subject here soon.

11 thoughts on “Er, Maybe Print Isn’t Dead After All Then..”

  1. What articles have you contributed to The Scotsman as an ‘independent journalist’? I have read the paper most days for the past couple of years and I can’t remember seeing any apart from a cut and paste guide to World Cup stadia?

    1. It must have been good if you remember it two months later! That’s one of two pieces I’ve written for scotsman.com, as well as working for them as an online production journalist.

      But then you knew that already Mr anonymous, as you’re obviously keeping tabs on my career!

      As it happens, I didn’t write the above bio myself, and was thoroughly honest with the students I met that I have a full time job as a web editor as well as writing freelance.

      But whatever, go ahead and spread your sour grapes as clearly you have nothing better to do.

  2. Haha, it was indeed the definitive guide. But my complaint is not [entirely] sour grapes. I just don’t agree with pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Presumably the St Andrews Debating Society didn’t just make up the blurb? While it may be accurate to the letter of the law, it is surely not in the spirit?

    1. If I’ve written for a publication then surely I have every right to say so.

      Also my writing is freely available on this blog and elsewhere online so people can judge for themselves so I’m not sure how I am deceiving anyone.

      I’d be the first to admit that others who spoke were more qualified to speak about journalism, but my experience blogging and some of the articles I’ve written on the subject meant I had a different perspective. No doubt that’s why I was invited to take part.

  3. Besides, why so aggressive about a general query/constructive criticism? Is it not a valid point? I do read your website from time to time and can’t very well avoid all the references to the work you do in the media and elsewhere, so in that way I guess I am “obviously keeping tabs on [your] career”.

  4. Been reading your posts for a while now and, for some reason, this one encouraged me to comment! Not a biggie, but I used to get the odd lecture from Alistair Duff. Good guy, but does he still have that Trans Atlantic accent going on?

    1. Funny, the less I write on this blog the more popular it seems to become! I can’t remember if his accent was tinged with the taste of the mid-atlantic but he was certainly a nice fellow!

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