09 February 2007

Content is king, students told

One of the regional pioneers of convergence journalism was the latest speaker in the series of guest lectures organised by the Journalism Studies Department at the University of Sheffield.

Ian Wood, assistant editor at the Manchester Evening News, aptly arrived in the middle of the Department’s first ‘Convergence Week’ – a joint effort by MA Print, Broadcast and Web courses to break down the divisions between the disciplines and more accurately reflect the changes going on in the industry.

Ian Wood

Mr Wood is in charge of the MEN’s moves towards convergence, which has put it at the forefront of the revolution in newsgathering in the regions.

Mr Wood explained that MEN Media, as it now known, does not just include Manchester’s evening newspaper but also embraces a television station, Channel M, a website, radio stations and 18 weekly titles.

MEN Media boasts a ‘convergent’ newsroom reflecting some of the changes it has made to its news gathering and production operations at its new headquarters off Deansgate in central Manchester.

Mr Wood told the students that despite the gloom about falling newspaper circulations, it was a good time to be in the storytelling business because technology allows us to communicate with the public in lots of different ways.

He said MEN Media had concluded that newspapers were not always the best place to break stories because the gap between the paper coming off the presses and being read allows competitors to exploit the story.

Instead, the group frequently breaks exclusives on its 9pm Channel M bulletin – too late for the agencies and nationals to follow them up – and then provides further coverage via its website and the following day’s newspaper.

Mr Wood concluded by emphasising the primacy of good journalism regardless of the medium by which it is delivered: “Content is king in everything we do,” he said.