header image

Is serious journalism still possible?

A Note by the Director 2013/03

29 February - 02 March 2013

Introduction

Amid the first, misleading stirrings of spring, Ditchley looked at whether serious journalism has a future amid all the challenges of the internet.  We had a strong UK and US turn-out, which skewed the debates to a certain extent, but enough participants from the rest of the world to keep Anglo-Saxon problems in context.  The discussion avoided too much nostalgia for a supposed golden age, and was resolutely forward-looking and positive. 

Summary

The definition of serious journalism was never going to be easy, but we broadly agreed that it was about telling the truth, in elegant words and ways that respected the intelligence of the audience, about things that mattered to society. It was platform-neutral, and could also be mixed with less serious forms of journalism. Definition of the journalism profession was increasingly hard, with the advent of the citizen journalist and internet-based information providers, but a certain level of knowledge, experience and independence was still needed to produce serious journalism. Engagement with the audience was more than ever necessary, but without pandering to them.

Is there still a market for this journalism? Certainly, and it is a growing market, with huge new opportunities to reach more people through new technology. But we do not yet know how to make people pay for serious content. Advertising would certainly not be able to bear the whole burden in future. Experimentation with different business models was therefore the only way forward, in the knowledge that there is no one size fits all solution, and national contexts are often very different. Traditional news gathering and providing institutions, newspapers or otherwise, are not necessarily doomed but have no God-given right to survive either, and will have to work very hard to adapt, while new, agile competitors will be constantly springing up. New partnerships with internet companies and others were one unexploited way forward.

How can we ensure that there are resources for expensive but vital brands of journalism like investigative journalism and foreign correspondents? We did not know, but cross-subsidisation would be required, as in the past, and non-profit foundations might play a role too.

Governments and regulators were an unavoidable feature of media life, and could create the right context for free expression and therefore serious journalism. But the freedom of the press was under threat in many parts of the world, and financial pressures made media companies more vulnerable. Regulation should always be kept to the minimum, therefore, to ensure individual privacy and avoid monopolies. But we recognised that there were still important questions related to serious journalism, about accountability and the definition of public interest, which we had not had time to address properly.

Overall we were optimistic about the future of serious journalism, while recognising that we had still not cracked how to monetise what it offered in the digital age.


What is serious journalism?

We began by trying to pin down the definition of serious journalism, which could also be characterised as “good” or “quality” journalism.  Various formulations were put forward and positively received:  news thoroughly reported and elegantly told in a way which respects the intelligence of the reader; the systematic reporting of issues that matter to society in a truthful way; reporting which holds power to account; respect for evidence and temperate debate.  But we also accepted that serious or good journalism could be about all kinds of issues, not just political news stories: sport, culture, even how a cat could find its way back to its owners when hundreds of miles away from home. It was not a question of length either, although we hoped that there would always be an audience for long-form writing.

We agreed that serious journalism is platform-neutral, and can be delivered in many ways, going well beyond a so-called quality newspaper or TV channel.  The content is the important criterion, not the medium.  We also saw no reason why serious journalism could not be mixed with more populist offerings, especially if this is a way of reaching a wider audience and convincing them of the merits of serious journalism.  An influential political analyst and commentator could easily write for a tabloid newspaper, for example, despite the restrictions on format and length. So-called ‘popular’ newspapers had often revealed some of the biggest and most important stories and would no doubt continue to do so. We should not be obsessed by ‘dumbing down’. The struggle was a familiar one between, in TV terms, producing popular programmes which were also of real quality, and quality programmes which could also be popular. Cream and dregs would in any event both continue to be around.

Is serious journalism necessarily the preserve of journalists as a profession?  Here we were less sure of our ground.  It was increasingly hard to define the profession, in an age of bloggers and street reporting by anyone with a smartphone containing a camera.  But many around the table felt that a certain level of specialism, knowledge and experience — and in some cases access to decision-makers — was usually needed to produce serious journalism.  Otherwise there was a risk of confusing information with knowledge.  This did not mean there was no role for the citizen journalist. They were now not only a fact of life, but also made a valuable contribution to our understanding of what was happening in the world.  But journalists trained in the art of filtering and selecting information, analysing the facts, respecting truth and ethical values, and writing coherent reports respecting readers’ intelligence were capable of producing something of higher level and value. Did they retain the authority they had once had in today’s digital age? Probably not. But that might not be an altogether bad thing either. The past quasi-monopoly of traditional organisations over news-gathering had been too exclusive.

We asked ourselves about the role of audiences in serious journalism.  Was there a natural audience out there, or did it need to be created?  Views differed on this point, but there was a feeling that journalists did have a role in fostering civic engagement and active citizenship, and it was wrong to think serious journalism was just for some kind of existing elite. In any case, how far should serious journalists engage with the audience, to find out what they really wanted, and seek their feedback on what had been produced?  Some argued that many journalists had ignored their audiences for too long, able to do so because of the automatic reach of their “quality” publications.  But they could no longer do so if they were to continue reaching a significant number of people.  Others suggested that, while understanding one’s audience was no doubt desirable, pandering to it was not; and pointed out that most “below the line” comments were unworthy of serious attention.

Is there a market for serious journalism?

Here the answer was mostly a resounding yes.  Most participants believed that demographics and rising education and living standards were producing an ever-increasing number of people interested in understanding an ever more complex world.  This represented an astonishing opportunity.  Moreover the rise of the internet presented a chance to escape the restrictions and costs of newsprint or a conventional TV channel.  Large audiences could be reached easily and cheaply.  In more repressive countries, censorship of newspapers and TV channels could be more easily bypassed. 

However we struggled much more with two basic, related questions.  How far will people be prepared to pay for serious journalism; and, even if they are, what business model will actually work in future?  Again most participants were resolutely optimistic on the first question.  Despite the availability of so much information, and indeed comment, free of charge, people were and would in the future be ready to shell out for serious journalistic content from which they could learn and which would have value in their lives. But it would have to be offered in convenient forms.

The second question was much more difficult.  Technology had changed everything, and was continuing to so at high speed. The consensus was that we had no idea what successful serious journalism business models would look like, and did not believe anyone else knew the answer to this either.  The only way to find the answer, or more likely answers, was therefore through relentless experimentation.  There would certainly not be any one-size-fits-all solution.  For example national contexts were very different, and what worked in one country might well flop elsewhere. 

Did this mean the days of the traditional serious journalism outlets such as the “quality” press, and major TV channels — what one participant called “legacy institutions”— were necessarily numbered?  Again we struggled to answer this question clearly.  Newspaper circulations were certainly declining in a number of developed countries with strong press traditions, and the number of titles was also decreasing in such countries.  But this was far from universally the case.  Circulations in countries like India and China had been rising sharply, and even in developed country markets, some newspapers were surviving well, if necessary by reinventing themselves.  So, while newspapers might well disappear eventually, predictions of their imminent demise were likely to prove premature, as they had before, with the advent of radio and then television. Mainstream TV channels were also proving more resilient than might have been expected, given the wide competition. For example the main evening news programmes in the UK continued to attract millions of viewers.

Virtually all newspapers had now gone online in one way or another, while TV channels were also moving into “print” through their websites.  But again the question of how to make money from online editions/content was very far from solved.  Some outlets had retreated entirely behind pay walls, some had hybrid models (limited free access, but payment for going beyond a certain point), and some had remained entirely free. All variants seemed to have problems.  Online advertising did not seem sufficiently lucrative to make the necessary financial difference, and some newspapers which had boosted their global online audiences enormously were continuing to lose unsustainably large sums of money – the print editions were costing more and more and attracting fewer and fewer readers.  Even the most generous and philanthropic owners had limits to the depth of their pockets.  Meanwhile those who continued to offer serious content free were in danger of ruining the whole market, and sending a damaging message that journalism had no worth.

We concluded that the so-called legacy institutions were not necessarily doomed.  But they had no God-given right to exist, and would have to engage with their audiences and think through their roles in new ways.  It might be more difficult for them to adapt when they often had so much historical baggage to contend with. The notion of “brand” might well not be as strong as was currently thought in attracting/retaining paying audiences.  Just cutting the newsrooms could not be the long-term answer, though reforms and better performance were certainly possible.  The issue was not so much doing more with less, as doing different things with the same resources.

Meanwhile new organisations and companies were emerging and would continue to emerge, with new concepts and new audiences.  One obvious way forward was “unbundling” – splitting the different parts of general news providers into bits with specific audiences and charging for the result.  Politico.com in Washington DC was an example which seemed to be achieving some success.  But unbundling had clear risks too – a lot of experience and expertise, and the ability to read across from one area to another, would disappear with the bundle, and some bits of the bundle might never be able to attract paying audiences.  Cross-subsidisation had of course long been a feature of journalism, although often not explicitly acknowledged, since serious journalism had always struggled to be commercial. It would have to continue in new ways.

There were also other risks in just giving people what they thought they wanted.  How could you then create an audience for something less familiar?  How could the danger of self-reinforcing products and messages be avoided?  The internet enabled people to live in ever narrower worlds, which was ultimately impoverishing. How could that be prevented? We did not know but thought it was an important problem.

Partnerships
One option for many organisations was new partnerships.  The “media” could no longer be defined in the old way as internet-based companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter and the mobile telephone providers, moving into information provision, clearly demonstrated.  Traditional news organisations needed to move into, and work with, those in the ‘neighbouring territories’, and vice-versa.  Partnerships could also be built with NGOs, Foundations and universities.  There were huge opportunities here, which were still largely untapped.  This was not just or even mainly about money – technology and access were also key.  Data-mining was for example a form of journalism which most traditional outlets were ignoring.

Advertising/Sales
Advertising revenue was proving increasingly elusive for media companies, particularly online.  This was a more fundamental problem than the current global recession. Advertisers were in many ways more conservative than the media organisations themselves. One way forward was to stop thinking about advertising in a conventional way, and start thinking about average revenue per customer. Another was to use the extensive data now available to target audiences more selectively.  Specific advertising could be attracted more effectively for segmented audiences.  But we did not think advertising could ever carry the whole burden of making serious journalism commercially viable.

Meanwhile the advertisers themselves were not standing still, and were increasingly producing their own content and shows.  Audiences were not necessarily as suspicious about this as might be expected.  But the risks of failure or inability to distinguish advertorials from more independent content were nevertheless great.

We agreed that it was no longer possible to separate out sales strategy and editorial choices.  It was also argued that where publications and brands were failing it was often more about the lack of creativity and imagination from the commercial side of the operation than about poor or inappropriate editorial content.  The market was there, but you had to go out and look for it. It would not just come to you.

Who are the future serious journalists?

While we had few doubts about the availability of a market for serious journalism, it was less clear who was going to produce the necessary content in the future.  Sites which aggregated the best pieces from around a particular country or even around the world were all very well, and could be successful commercially, but who was going to source and write the original news?  Where were the resources to be found to fund serious investigative journalism, which took time and effort, and had uncertain results?  Who was going to afford to maintain serious specialists, for example experienced foreign correspondents able to make sense of events in a way visiting “firemen” never could?  How were good journalists going to be trained in future, if the traditional institutions cut back on what they had previously offered, as they were doing?  We had no good answers to these questions, beyond a hope that if the demand was there, the supply would follow in one way or another. But one option was not-for-profit foundations dedicated to investigative journalism, along the lines of ‘Pro-publica’ in the US.

This led us on to other considerations too.  One phenomenon which turned off many potential consumers was the relentless diet of negative stories in much of the media.  Naturally failure, disaster and division tended to be more interesting than bland propaganda. But could we not balance the negative stories, which in any case tended to create false images of reality e.g. sensational crime stories disguising a fall in crime rate, with occasional more “constructive” journalism.  This did not need to fall into the trap of past doomed attempts to sell “good news” products.  Rather the emphasis should be on sometimes showing what worked in different areas, in order to demonstrate the lessons to be learned.  For example, stories about why and how bus services or education provision worked well in a particular location could be genuinely of interest to many.  This idea received a degree of cautious support, though tinged with scepticism.
  
Ownership and the public sector

Did ownership of media institutions matter?  Clearly yes, not least financially.  It was also reasonable from the public’s point of view to want to avoid monopoly situations (though one issue was how to define such a situation, particularly if, as currently in the UK, the public broadcaster was not taken into account).  Clearly what journalists wanted and needed was a sufficient degree of financial stability and a sufficient degree of independence to enable them to carry on their work.  But who could and would provide these in future? Independence was under threat from many directions, financial as well as political.

Governments and regulation

Developed country media concerns were firmly put in context by participants from more controlled, not to say dangerous, contexts, where the ability to produce any kind of serious independent journalism was in no way guaranteed.  Threats to basic press freedom were growing in many parts of the world. This was not just about censorship, but about intimidation of various kinds by those who had political, or in some cases financial, power.  Attempts to control the internet itself were growing.  Media companies in financial difficulties, as many were, were particularly vulnerable to pressure since they could not afford to fight legal battles.  Defamation and “insult” legislation, and concerns about “national security”, could easily be abused.  Pressure to reveal sources was a constant problem.  One particularly worrying feature was the way in which the Leveson debate in the UK was being manipulated and misused in more repressive countries to justify extra restrictions, on the grounds that even liberal countries like the UK had decided they needed more regulation.  The media did not have to be in opposition to government but they did have to have the option to be so.

So while individual privacy had to be respected and protected, and this was perhaps even more necessary, though also more difficult, in a digital age, the default position of most around the Ditchley table was that more regulation would rarely, if ever, be a good thing for serious journalism.  Governments and regulators should restrict themselves to creating a favourable overall context for freedom of expression, while providing adequate protection for individual privacy, and then get out of the way.  Most thought that journalists should be accountable to the law of the land and to the ethics of their own profession, not to governments or regulators.

But this begged some important questions.  Journalists had to be accountable to someone: ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?’ Should journalists be ready to break the law and accept the consequences if they thought the story ethically justified?  Why were TV channels regulated in some countries like the UK, apparently successfully, while the written press was not?  In any case, how were media companies to be defined for regulation purposes now?  How were public service broadcasters, or publicly owned outlets, to be managed?  Was there not a case for journalistic accountability to some trusted third party, free from government interference?  Could we not devise a more satisfactory test of public interest? Since these issues were not the main theme of the conference, we did not have the time to try to answer them.  But they hung over the debate.

We also looked briefly at the issue of relations between politicians and journalists, since their apparent closeness in some countries had led to an erosion of trust on the part of the public. Again we saw no easy answers. Lack of trust could be a real problem, but it was on the other hand part of a wider phenomenon of healthy scepticism about accepting what we were told. Journalists could not and should be exempt from this.

Areas of agreement

Our overall theme was not one which lent itself easily to specific or clear recommendations.  But some common pointers emerged from the debate:

  • There is and will be a market for serious journalism, and indeed the opportunities are increasing.  But it won’t necessarily be today’s big brands which produce it.

  • There is no single answer to how it is to be paid for, and experimentation with different business models is the necessary way forward.

  • Managements and sales forces need to find new markets, without leaving this to the editorial side.

  • One major area of concern is the availability of enough resources and freedom to allow, for example, worthwhile investigative journalism and knowledgeable reporting by experienced foreign correspondents to continue.

  • Media companies will have to focus more relentlessly and scientifically on their markets and their audiences, without pandering to them.

  • Governments and regulators have their role, but press freedom is under attack from many directions, and restrictions must be kept to the minimum required to protect individual privacy and prevent monopolies.

Conclusion

Overall we surprised ourselves by our relative optimism about the future for serious journalism.  Familiar fears of a generalised dumbing down and of a pervasive celebrity culture dominated discussion less than might have been expected.  One sign of this was the agreement in our final session by most around the table that they would still recommend to their children to go into journalism if they wanted to.  But I suspect many left still not entirely convinced that what people would be prepared to pay for in future would allow enough serious journalism to continue to flourish.  Ditchley should come back for another look in a few years’ time.

PARTICIPANTS

CHAIR    : Sir Peter Stothard 

Editor, The Times Literary Supplement (2002-).  Formerly: Editor, The Times (1992-2002); US Editor, The Times (1989-92); President, The Classical Association (2011); Chairman of Judges: Forward Poetry Prize (2003), Man Booker Prize for Fiction (2012).

BANGLADESH

Mr Mahfuz Anam 
Editor and Publisher, The Daily Star (1993-); Columnist and Publisher: Weekly 2000 (1997-), Anandodhara (1997-); Founder and Chairman, Bangladesh Freedom Foundation.  Formerly: Columnist and Publisher, Prothom Alo (1998-2008); Chairman, Asia News Network (ANN) (2007-08); UNESCO (1977-1990): Regional Media and Public Affairs Representative for Asia and the Pacific (1986-90); Public Affairs Officer and Media Representative to the United Nations, United States and Canada, New York (1982-86).

BRAZIL

Mr Roberto Dias 
Assistant Managing Editor (Digital Operation), Folha de S. Paulo, São Paulo.  Formerly: Barcelona (2009-10) and New York (2003) Correspondent; Reporter and Editor, Sports, Politics and Business sections, Folha de S. Paulo.

Mr Gustavo Faleiros 
Knight International Journalism Fellow, International Center for Journalists, Washington DC; Environmental Journalist and Media Trainer.  Formerly: Executive Editor, Editor and European Correspondent, O Eco; Reporter, Valor Econômico.

CANADA

Mr David Mitchel
President and CEO, Canada's Public Policy Forum (2009-).  Formerly: Vice President of three Canadian universities; Elected Member, British Columbia Legislature; Newspaper Columnist; Business Executive.

Mr André Pratte
Editorial Pages Editor, La Presse, Montreal (2001-).

Mr John Stackhouse 
The Globe and Mail, Toronto: Editor-in-Chief (2009-).  Formerly: Editor, Report on Business; National Editor; Foreign Editor; Foreign Correspondent at Large; Development Issues Correspondent, New Delhi (1992-99); Correspondent: Report on Business Magazine, Financial Times, London Free Press, The Toronto Star.  A Board Member, The Canadian Ditchley Foundation.

Professor Christopher Waddell
Director, Associate Professor and Carty Chair in Business and Financial Journalism, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University, Ottawa.  Formerly: Parliamentary Bureau Chief (1993-2001), Executive Producer, News Specials (1995-2001), CBC Television News, Ottawa; Associate Editor then National Editor, The Globe and Mail, Toronto (1989-91).

CANADA/UK

Mr John Paton
CEO, Digital First Media; Director: MediaNews Group, Journal Register Company, Wanderful Media, Postmedia (Canada); Member, Board of Advisors, City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism; Member, Board of Directors, Newspaper Association of America.

DENMARK

Mr Ulrik Haagerup
Head of News, Danish Broadcasting Corporation (2007-); Member, World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Journalism; Member, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Washington DC.  Formerly: Editor-in-Chief, NORDJYSKE Media; Editor-in-Chief, Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten.

FRANCE

Ms Sylvie Kauffmann
Le Monde (1988-): Editor-at-Large, Columnist (2012-).  Formerly: Editor-in-Chief; Deputy Editor; US Bureau Chief; Asia Correspondent; Eastern Europe Correspondent; Moscow Correspondent.

GERMANY

Mr Michael Ludewig 
Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (2011-).  Formerly: Head of Domestic News (2006-10); Regional Bureau Chief (2000-06); Regional Desk Chief (1997-2000), Deutsche Presse-Agentur; News Editor, Mitteldeutsche Zeitung (1995); News Editor, Deutscher Depeschen Dienst (1985-94); Correspondent, Stern magazine (1982-85).

INDIA   

Mr Madhav Chinnappa
Head of Strategic Partnerships, Google News Europe, Middle East, Africa (2010-).  Formerly: Head of Business Development and Rights, BBC News (2003-10); United News and Media; Member, Launch Team and Business Manager, Associated Press Television.

IRELAND

Mr Paul Staines 
Editor, Guido Fawkes' blog; Political Columnist, The Sun; Managing Director, MessageSpace Limited.

PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

Mr He Gang 
Managing Editor, CAIJING Magazine, Beijing (2009-); Editor, Harvard Business Review (Chinese Edition) (2012-).  Formerly: News Editor, People's Daily; Comment Editor, Financial Daily; Editor-in-Chief, International Finance News; Comment Editor and Member of Editorials Board, People's Daily; Managing Editor-in-Chief, Investor Journal.

QATAR/PALESTINE

Mr Wadah Khanfar
Co-Founder and President, Sharq Forum.  Formerly: Al Jazeera Network (1997-2011): Director General (2006-11).

POLAND

Dr Beata Klimkiewicz PhD
Assistant Professor, Institute of Journalism and Social Communication, Jagiellonian University, Krakow; Expert and Advisor for UNESCO, European Commission.  Formerly: Deputy Director, Institute of Journalism and Social Communication; Expert and Advisor for Council of Europe, European Parliament, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights; Journalist, Polish Public Television, Print Media.

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Ms Galina Sidorova 
Chair, Executive Board, International Press Institute; Chair, Foundation for Investigative Journalism – Foundations 19/29 (Russia).  Formerly: Editor-in-Chief, Sovershenno Secretno Monthly (2001-10); Political Advisor to the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation (1991-95); Staff Writer, Diplomatic Correspondent, Political Analyst, Member of the Editorial Board, Novoje Vremja (The New Times) weekly (1978-91).

SWEDEN

Mr Martin Jönsson
Deputy Program Director, Swedish Radio.  Formerly: Guest Professor in Practical Journalism, University of Gothenburg; Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Svenska Dagbladet; Culture Editor, Svenska Dagbladet; Editor, Digital Media, Svenska Dagbladet; Media Analyst, Svenska Dagbladet/Schibsted Media Group; Editor-in-Chief, Journalisten.

TURKEY

Mr Mehmet Murat Yetkin 
Editor-in-Chief, Hürriyet Daily News (2011-); Eisenhower Fellow; Member, Georgetown University Leadership Seminar Group.  Formerly: Ankara Bureau Chief, Radikal; Founding Team Member, NTV, Ankara; Diplomacy and Defence Editor, Turkish Daily News; Deutsche Welle; AFP; BBC World Service, Ankara.

UK

Mr Anthony Barnett 
Founder, openDemocracy; Co-Editor, OurKingdom (British section of openDemocracy).  Formerly: Co-Director, Convention on Modern Liberty (2009); Editor, openDemocracy (2001-06); first Director, Charter 88 (1988-96); Author of, amongst others: 'Iron Britannia, time to take the 'great' out of Britain' (1982, reissued 2012); 'The Athenian Option, radical reform of the House of Lords' (2008); 'This Time' (1997); 'Soviet Freedom' (1988).

Sir David Bell
Non-Executive Director, The Economist; Chairman, Sadler's Wells; Chair of Council, Roehampton University; Chairman, London Transport Museum; Chairman, Transformation Trust; Chair, Cambridge University Press; Chair, Institute of War and Peace Reporting Europe.  Formerly: Assessor, Leveson Inquiry (2011-12); Director, Pearson plc (1996-2009); Chairman, Pearson Inc., New York; Chairman, Media Standards Trust; Financial Times: Chairman (1996-2009); Chief Executive (1993-96); Chairman, Millennium Bridge Trust (1995-2002).

Ms Emily Bell
Director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, and Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.  Formerly: Director of Digital Content, Guardian News and Media (2006-10); Editor-in-Chief, Guardian Unlimited (2001-06); Business Reporter, Observer newspaper.

Mr Archie Bland
The Independent (2008-); Deputy Editor (2012-); Editor, The Independent Saturday edition.  Formerly: Foreign Editor (2010-12).

Mr Adam Boulton 
Presenter, Boulton & Co, and Political Editor, Sky News, BSkyB.  Formerly: Presenter, The Boulton Factor; Political Editor, TV-am; Parliamentary Lobby Chairman (2007).

Professor George Brock  (UK)
Professor and Head of Journalism, City University London (2009-); Chair, British Committee, and Executive Board Member, International Press Institute; Board Member, World Editors' Forum.  Formerly: The Times (1981-2009): International Editor, Saturday Editor, Managing Editor (1997-2004), European Editor (1995-97), Bureau Chief, Brussels (1991-95), Foreign Editor (1987-90).

Mr Mark Damazer CBE 
Master, St Peter's College, University of Oxford (2010-); Trustee, Victoria and Albert Museum.  Formerly: Controller, Radio 4 and Radio 7 (2004-10); Editor, 9 O'Clock TV News; Editor, TV News Programmes; Head of Current Affairs; Head of Westminster; Deputy Director, BBC News; Producer, 6 O'Clock TV News and Newsnight; International Vice Chairman, International Press Institute.

Mr Nicholas Ferguson CBE
Chairman, BSkyB plc; Chairman, Alta Advisers.  Formerly: Chairman, SVG Capital plc; Chairman, Courtauld Institute of Arts; Chairman, Institute for Philanthropy.  A Governor and a Member of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, The Ditchley Foundation.

Dame Liz Forgan DBE
Chair, Scott Trust (2004-); Deputy Chair, British Museum (2012-).  Formerly: Chair, Arts Council England; Director of Programmes, Channel 4 TV; Managing Director, BBC Network Radio; Journalist: Guardian, Evening Standard, Tehran Journal.

Mr Nik Gowing
Main Presenter, BBC World News (1996-); Advisory Council Member: Royal United Services Institute (2011-), Overseas Development Institute (2007-).  Formerly: Advisory Council Member, Wilton Park (1999-2012); Diplomatic Editor (1989-96), Diplomatic Correspondent, Channel 4 News; ITN Bureau Chief, Warsaw (1980-83) and Rome (1979); Chatham House Council (1998-2004).  A Governor of The Ditchley Foundation.

Mr Jon Henley

The Guardian (1992-); Senior Features Writer and Correspondent-at-Large.  Formerly: Diarist (2006-07); Foreign Correspondent (including Chief Correspondent, Paris (1997-2006)); Broadcaster and Commentator.

Ms Sue Inglish
Head of Political Programmes, BBC News (2005-).  Formerly: Head of Analysis and Research, BBC News (2002-05); Editor, ITN New Media; Deputy Editor, Channel Four News; Foreign Editor, Channel Four News.

Mr Martin Kettle
The Guardian (1984-): Assistant Editor.  Formerly: Chief Leader Writer; Washington Bureau Chief (1997-2001).

Mr Andrew Knight 
Chairman, Times Newspapers Holdings Limited; Advisory Board Member, Center for Economic Policy Research, Stanford University.  Formerly: Non-Executive Director, News Corporation Ltd (1991-2012); Chairman, J Rothschild Capital Management Limited (2008-10); Director, Rothschild Investment Trust (1997-2008); Executive Chairman, News International plc (1990-94); Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief, Daily Telegraph (1986-89); Editor, The Economist (1974-86).  A Governor and a Member of the Council of Management, The Ditchley Foundation.

Dr David Levy 
Director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford; Member, Content Board, Ofcom.  Formerly: Controller, BBC Public Policy (2000-07); Editor, Analysis; Reporter, Newsnight, File on 4; Producer/Talks Writer, BBC World Service.

Mr John Lloyd
Director of Journalism, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford; Contributing Editor and Columnist, The Financial Times.  Formerly: Labour and Industrial Editor, East European Editor and Moscow Bureau Chief, Financial Times; Editor: Time Out, New Statesman, FT Weekend Magazine.

Ms Bronwen Maddox
 
Editor, Prospect Magazine (2010-); Columnist, The Times.  Formerly: Chief Foreign Commentator (2006-10), Foreign Editor (1999-2006), US Editor (1996-99), The Times; Leader Writer, Financial Times; Director, Kleinwort Benson Securities (1991-96).  A Governor and a Member of the Programme Committee, The Ditchley Foundation.

Mr Edward Mortimer CMG
Senior Programme Adviser, formerly Vice-President and Chief Programme Officer (2007-11), Salzburg Global Seminar.  Formerly: Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford (2006-08) (1984-86) (1965-72); Chief Speechwriter to the Secretary-General, United Nations (1998-2006); Foreign Affairs Editor, Financial Times (1987-98); Foreign Leader Writer, The Times (1973-85); Author, Independent Assessment for the BBC Trust of the BBC's coverage of the events known as 'the Arab Spring' (2012).  A Governor, The Ditchley Foundation.

USA   

Mrs Jill Abramson
The New York Times (1997-); Executive Editor (2011-).  Formerly: Managing Editor (2003-11); Washington Bureau Chief.

Mr Robert G Kaiser
The Washington Post: Associate Editor and Senior Correspondent (1998-).  Formerly: Managing Editor (1991-98); Deputy Managing Editor (1990-91); Assistant Managing Editor, National News (1985-90); Associate Editor (1982-85); National Correspondent (1975-82); Moscow Bureau Chief (1971-74).  A Member of the Board of Directors, The American Ditchley Foundation.

Mr Michael Kinsley
Editor-at-Large, The New Republic (2013-).  Formerly: Editor and Columnist, Bloomberg; Editor, The New Republic; Columnist, The Washington Post; Founding Editor, Slate; Editor, Harper's; Editorial and Opinion Editor, Los Angeles Times; American Editor, The Economist; Co-Host, Crossfire, CNN.

Professor Jane Kirtley JD
Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law (1999-) and Director, The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law (2000-), School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota.  Formerly: Adjunct Professor of Law, London Law Programme, University of  Notre Dame (USA) Law School (2012); Executive Director, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Arlington, Virginia (1984-99); Lawyer, Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle, New York and Washington, DC (1979-84).

Ms Geneva Overholser 
Professor and Director, USC Annenberg School of Journalism; Member, Knight Fellowships Board, Stanford University.  Formerly: Endowed Chair in Public Affairs Reporting, Missouri School of Journalism, DC Bureau; Editor, The Des Moines Register; Ombudsman, The Washington Post; Editorial Board Member, The New York Times; Chair, Pulitzer Board; Office of American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Return to top of page