OPINION: 'Old' and 'new' media show mutual respect

PRWeek's annual PR and The Media conference earlier this week featured the most diverse array of opinion formers to date.

Simon Kelner, editor-in-chief of The Independent, gave an impassioned defence of old media; James Montgomery, editor of FT.com, explained how the FT is cautiously adapting to new forms of digital channels; and we heard from the cutting edge of the broadcast world in the form of BBC Radio's interactive editor Daniel Heaf, BBC College of Journalism editor Kevin Marsh, and Sky News' online editorial director Andrew Hawken.

One was left with the impression that while web 2.0 has changed everything, at the same time it has changed little. Despite the years of hype and rhetoric, less than a fifth of the audience admitted to actually creating digital content for their client companies.

In a typically charismatic - and self-confessedly antediluvian - address, Kelner argued that newspapers remained the most effective ‘browsers' in the media. His passion for creating a ‘Viewspaper' that leads opinion remains undimmed.

Elsewhere, Sky's Hawken stressed the importance of newspapers, while even web 2.0 evangelist Paul Miller, senior consultant at Romeike, agreed that web opinion continues to follow the agenda set by traditional media.

This writer takes pains not to mount a hackneyed defence of ‘old media'. Indeed, the conference revealed some astonishing changes in strategies to embrace new media, not least from McDonald's. There is also a new generation of opinion formers emerging at the interface between old media and the public. What hasn't changed, then, is the demand for high quality, and above all credible, content.

While entertainment formats revolutionise, Sky's investment in strong TV reporting has paid off. Else­where, Kelner, whose paper still loses money, continues to garner respect from his proprietor and the public.

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