Daisy Wallis | Deputy Editor | Tuesday 16 August 2016 | GMT 16:00 | firstname.lastname@example.org
A few weeks ago the last two remaining journalists working on London’s Fleet Street left, leading many to question the future and stability of print journalism. Fleet Street was once the most important location for journalism across the world and became the embodiment of British press. The famous street became known for journalism in the 16th century and by the 20th century the majority of British national newspapers operated there. Today the street’s rich journalistic history can be seen in the number of monuments and statutes dedicated to a number of key figures of British journalism, including Lord Northcliffe and Samuel Pepys. With a street drenched in such history it is clear why many aspiring journalists continue to associate the bustling street with the heart of journalism.
However, since the 1980s it clear that the prominence of Fleet Street as the home of modern journalism had started to wane. In 1986 Rupert Murdoch, the owner of News International, caused much controversy when he uprooted the publication of both The Times and The Sun to Wapping in East London. After all print staff were made redundant and new staff being brought in to the new premises in Wapping, which now used computer-operated technology, violent protests began to flood Fleet Street and their new Wapping home. With these violent protests lasting over a year, other publishers took the same decision as Rupert Murdoch relocating towards Canary Wharf.
Fast forward to 2016 and the last two remaining journalists, Darryl Smith and Gavin Sherriff, have announced that they too will be leaving Fleet Street. Both working for Dundee-based Sunday Post, the two journalists have each worked many years on the famous street. Sherriff, having worked on the street for over 30 years, spoke to the BBC about how much the once bustling street has changed. He said that Fleet Street was once “lorries with large rolls of paper struggling to get down side-streets to printing presses and lots of pubs, filled with journalists and printers.” Sherriff now described the street as an “endless number of sandwich bars.” From Sherriff’s depictions it is clear that although Fleet Street remains the metonym for journalism, that the street has changed beyond recognition in line with the rest of London and other gentrified capitals.
But does this really mean the end of journalism? As an aspiring journalist and writer myself, I am of the belief that despite the slow decline of the so-called journalistic heart of the world, journalism still remains intact. Much like other forms of media, journalism has been forced to develop in order to keep current and relevant in the forever changing world. There are now more types of journalism that ever before, each requiring a whole host of skills as well as the original journalistic beliefs carried out by the earliest of journalists on Fleet Street.
As social media and the internet continue to grow in prominence, the significance of print journalism has arguably declined. With news accounts on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook posting events as soon as they happen, it is not surprising that many believe that print journalism is nearing extinction. However, it is clear that print journalism has been able to adapt to the increasing prevalence of the internet age. It is now easier than ever to access copies of top newspapers on applications and specifically designed websites. As a result, big newspaper names such as The Times and Daily Mail continue to be read every day by large quantities, whether that be online or in physical paper copies.
Another reason as to why some consider that journalism is dying is the birth of the blogger. With the increase in prominence of the internet and social media, it is no surprise that in the last few decades aspiring writers and journalists have taken to the internet to post their own thoughts and opinions regarding current affairs. Without the same tight regulations on bloggers it is understandable why some have been deemed untrustworthy but can this stereotype really be applied to all bloggers? Many bloggers, much like the writers for this site, aim to post only the truth much like the majority of journalists. It is clear that both journalists and bloggers share the same goal in their writing to report on the truth. With this in mind, it is clear that although bloggers operate in an entirely new field, it is clear that the same journalistic traditions still remain.
So despite the departure of the final journalists on Fleet Street, I stand by my belief that journalism is not dead. Whilst it is clear that journalism has changed drastically over the last fifty years, as Sherriff depicted to the BBC, journalism continues to evolve alongside other forms of media. As more and more different strands of journalism continue to emerge, the future of journalism looks towards rebirth rather than extinction.