Dobson questions role of anchor in changing media

RTÉ presenter Bryan Dobson has questioned if the role of news anchor will exist in rapidly changing news environments.

Speaking on his first day of master classes as Adjunct Professor in Public Service Broadcasting at the University of Limerick, the newsreader said there will always be a demand for news, but the platform on which it is delivered is evolving rapidly.

“It is not so much the nature of the change that has taken me by surprise, it’s the speed of it. The speed at which, newspapers in particular, are migrating their activities online, and I can only see that accelerating.

“I do wonder whether the particular job I do, sitting down and reading the news every night whether it will exist in 10, 15 or 20 years’ time. And then when I say that I think maybe it could be five years when it could be gone, because people will just find news in different ways. I think you just have to accept that. Nothing goes on forever.”

The main anchor of the flagship Six One News programme on RTÉ 1 television, took up the honorary unpaid position in UL earlier this year, joining former editor of The Irish Times, Geraldine Kennedy, and The Sunday Times columnist Justine McCarthy, who are also adjunct professors of journalism at the university.

Over his three-year contract, Dobson will conduct expert lectures in public service broadcast policy, and master classes in broadcast journalism with UL’s Journalism and New Media students.

During a discussion with journalism students on broadcast interviewing techniques, the anchor stressed the importance of impartiality, fairness and balance.

When asked about the media’s role in covering the current, anti-water charge protests across the country, he emphasised the responsibility on journalists to provide “accurate, reliable and trustworthy accounts of what actually happens”.

UL president Don Barry said students were enthralled after the master class sessions with Mr Dobson.

“It is great to have someone of Bryan Dobson’s profile and experience sharing significant journalism knowledge with our students. They have been completely enthralled by the master class and rightly so.”

When asked for the biggest piece of advice he had for journalism students, the RTÉ broadcaster said: “Get out there, talk to people, find out what they think.

“Find out what’s happening, check the facts, double-check them, get more than one source, if you’re told something happened, stick in the first instance to the facts and be accurate and be fair.”

Speaking about his first day delivering master classes he said he is very interested to find out about young people’s experiences of new media and the way they get their news.

“I am very interested to hear what they have to say about it because they are much more connected with this type of technology and the way in particular younger people are finding their news and their information from sources that didn’t exist a few years ago.”

However, the broadcaster also warned students to always only report what you can stand over.

“You report what you know you can stand over, because it is very important that there is an accurate reliable and trustworthy account of what actually happened.”


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