David Montgomery, boss of the Local World Group which producers newspapers such as the Cambridge News, Derby Telegraph, Leicester Mercury and Nottingham Post, has outlined a grim vision of the future of the media. In a 2,000 word email to staff, obtained by Press Gazette, Montgomery paints a bleak picture of how organisations such as his own may one day work, with deskbound recent graduates skim-reading, harvesting and repurposing content from the internet and cutting and pasting press releases without any interference from news editors, editors or sub editors.
Montgomery's top 10 suggestions are as follows:
1. "The role and the scope of the journalist needs to be redefined... He will singly be responsible for sourcing this content, collecting it and publishing it across all platforms." [That's right ladies, the journalist of the future is a "he".]
2. "The journalist will embody all the traditional skills of reporter, sub-editor, editor-in-chief". [Though presumably never on an editor-in-chief's salary.]
3. "The majority of this content will be produced by third party contributors... The task of harvesting content from the various sources [will mean the] publisher acts as the main conduit for police information of every type... This same model can be applied to all content segments: hospitals and general health and care, education and every school, businesses large and small, sport at all levels, entertainment and culture."
4. "In the smaller operations there will only be one Content Manager. For the time being this remains a journalistic role but with audience data increasingly driving content exploitation it could in future mean that the content manager comes from a publishing background without having performed as a line journalist."
5. "Areas of taste, legalities, and newspaper style should be absorbed by the rank and file senior journalists as part of their responsibilities rather than being presided over grandly by the man in the glass office." [What could possibly go wrong, part 1.]
6. "It will be expected that every Content Director and Content Manager has the skills to single handedly assemble all content within a newspaper format which will be highly templated". [What could possibly go wrong, part 2.]
7. "The... Content Manager will skim largely online published content to create the newspaper in a single session... rather than a number of staff following a laborious and time-consuming schedule."
8. "Senior journalists will episodically visit offices with free seating to discuss strategic or quality issues rather than to sit and wait for a story briefing. News and content lists will be compiled by the senior journalists online rather than by the traditional processes of news and features editors."
9. "A loose graduate only recruitment programme is suggested and certainly not necessarily from media studies departments. The key attributes are a high degree of literacy, inquisitive and presentational skills, strong but not necessarily confident personality and a broad general knowledge manifested in part through educational attainment... Enabled with a broad and deep general knowledge, particularly in current affairs, this will allow the recruit to fly solo at an early stage." [What could possibly go wrong, part 3.]
10. "Training should be predicated with short print and online writing techniques courses but with no attempt to standardise reporting as has been the practice for decades. Instead there will be a tolerance to individual styles." [What could possibly go wrong, part 4.]