It’s not all bad for the newspaper industry, Lord Fowler, a former journalist and chair of the House of Lords committee on communications, said today.
Lord Fowler – who was a Times reporter before being elected to parliament in 1970 – spoke up for the industry at the Oxford Media Convention.
He said newspapers were still widely read, that the internet had improved journalism, and that The Times was “much better” than when he worked there.
“The Times of today is a much better newspaper than I remember,” said Fowler.
“There is more news, it’s better written, and much better displayed.”
He said that, despite falling circulations, ‘it also remains true that 20 million people read a newspaper each day’.
Lord Fowler – who was chairman of Midland Independent Newspapers and Regional Independent Media –- also compared his time reporting in the Middle East to current methods.
“The point that is often ignored is that media groups have also improved the way they work [because of the internet],” he said.
“I was a reporter in the 1967 Middle East war. The only way to get a story out was if you did it by telephone, and the wire was often cut, or went to the cable office where you had an official censor.
“I was in Damascus [recently] and I watched Al-Jazeera journalists providing accurate and graphic pictures of what was happening live. It is much better than when we were working 30 or 40 years ago.”