As press councils cease operations and news organizations back out of them, what role do the institutions play in the future of journalism? Lisa Taylor — a Ryerson journalism instructor, Master of Laws graduate and CBC alumna — is examining the future of press councils with Ivor Shapiro for a study requested by Newspapers Canada. She explains to J-Source in more detail what the study will look at.
My 2012 includes pondering a most interesting institution that fails to capture much by way of public interest: the press council.
The work of provincial press councils no longer commands the attention and support it received in the 1970s and 80s. Since then, so much has changed in terms of how the press (whatever that is now) delivers news to its audiences, as well as in how we conceptualize the formidable force that is the news media. The audience has changed even more: we now choose, curate, and participate in gathering and disseminating the news we care about in a way we couldn’t have imagined back in the nascent days of press councils.
So what does this mean for the work of press councils? Is it perhaps more or less relevant? To what extent does the existing (i.e. traditional) model serve contemporary interests? How might press councils innovate? In a time of instant #fails and Likes, what range of roles might a press council serve?
These are the questions on my shared research agenda with Ivor Shapiro. The press councils study is being done at the request of Newspapers Canada. Currently I’m getting up to speed on the history of press councils here in Canada, as well as elsewhere in the world. This means I’m up to my ears in primary source materials, journal articles and media coverage. We hope to begin formal qualitative interviews in the next couple of months; but, for now, we are refining our methodology. We are open to your input and suggestions so, if you have anything you’d like to share, please send a note to either Ivor or me: email@example.com.
Here’s a link to more information about the study.