Liveryman Christopher Roycroft-Davis reports:-
The imminent death of print journalism might be, as Mark Twain said of his own death, greatly exaggerated. But attendees at the Annual Lecture and Dinner on March 12 – among them a host of past and present Fleet Street journalists - were left in no doubt of the gravity of the prognosis by guest speaker Emma Tucker, Deputy Editor of The Times.
Her message was that in the long run, there was no question that print journalism was dying and she produced worrying statistics about sales and advertising revenue to support her warning that “the last two years have been brutal.”
The crisis wasn’t restricted to the national media, she said. The regional press too was facing an existential threat. The fact that the press benches in courts and council chambers were increasingly empty was bad news for all who cared about the need for a spotlight to be shone constantly on the workings of justice and democracy, she said.
Does this actually matter? Her answer was an emphatic yes, a view which was fully supported by questioners from the floor.
There was little light at the end of the tunnel. Some £1billion of revenue had disappeared from newspapers in eight years and income from digital activities was in no way making up the shortfall.
Today 85 per cent of advertising revenue was going to digital powerhouses like Facebook and Google, which did not accept they should shoulder the costs or the responsibilities of reliable, quality journalism.
“Good journalists you can trust do not come cheap or free,” the speaker reminded us. “So the real question is can the worthy practices of print journalism survive? Is there a future for journalism you can trust?”
The thought-provoking evening, moderated by Court Assistant Michael Binyon OBE, a distinguished former Times journalist, was best summed up by the speaker’s closing warning: “You will miss us when we’re gone.”
Many of the attendees then went on to a sumptuous Dinner in the Court Room at which the Master thanked Emma and presented her with a book.
Photos by Lucie McCord and Giles Fagan