A Contribution To “My Migration Story To the UK”, a GuardianWitness Project

You probably heard of GuardianWitness, a relatively recent project of my beloved British newspaper, The Guardian. This page is created to cover the experiences, opinions and ideas of the paper’s readers. There is a different theme being regularly published and anyone can contribute a related media item (text, photo or video) under that topic. A bit like a multimedia forum, really. I wanted to share with you my own migration story to the UK, which was published on the project’s website 19 February 2015. The original link is here.

I am originally from Istanbul, Turkey. I first came to the UK in 2007 to study towards my Masters degree. The photo below was taken in September 2007 at Warwick Castle. Back then, I was about to begin my graduate programme at University of Warwick. It was a uni trip to the Castle and I was amazed by its grandeur and architecture.

(Fotoğraf: Özgür Yüzak)

One of my first photos taken in the UK, September 2007 (Photo credit: Özgür Yüzak)

After my Masters, I went to Turkey to change my visa to a work permit. I was able to come back to the UK in 2009 and started to look for a job. This time I came to London planning to settle here. I was happy to live in my country, I didn’t have any serious problems there. I just wanted to experience how life in a European country is. (Although the UK is the least European country in the EU!) It was hard due to the recession, but I have finally found a job and settled in London after a couple of months.

In six years, I settled here, became a permanent UK resident and saved some money. Recently, I have applied for UK citizenship as well. I would like to become a dual citizen. I love living here: the lifestyle is straightforward and stable, people are tolerant, very polite and friendly. Although London life can be hectic at times, I still love the buzz of the big city as an Istanbullite. I consider myself as a Londoner now.

The only problem here is that I don’t have any close friends originally from the UK. Nearly all my friends are foreigners like me. But apart from that, I feel like a part of this society, totally adapted to local culture and lifestyle. I feel proud and successful to be living here. I definitely recommend this experience of living abroad to anyone: one learns to stand on one’s own feet in every sense.

A Brainstorming Session with George Brock About the Future of Journalism

The first guest of the Meetup group “Journalists and Writers in London” was Prof. George Brock, the Head of Journalism Department at City University London. The members consisted of nearly 10 Londoners from Slovakia, Germany, Turkey, India, New Zealand, Ireland, UK, and Finland. Among us were journalists, former journalists or journalism students. We met on 17 September 2013 at a nice and cosy French restaurant in Covent Garden, maybe the most touristic and popular spot in London.

In his short talk, Mr Brock mostly focused on “Out of Print: Newspaper, Journalism and the Business of News in the Digital Age”, his new book published on 3 September 2013.  Analysing why the print media has hit an all-time low now and the effects of the digital technology on journalism practices, this book argues that we have to be optimistic about the future of journalism.

 Image

Today, digital versions of newspapers are preferred to hard copy versions. Also, the internet distributes the news stories faster and to more people compared to newspapers. This book argues that journalism has to be reconsidered in the global scale and we have to be ready to meet the demands of the new technology. If we would consider that the circulations and advertisement revenues of hardcopy newspapers are decreasing in the UK, Japan, European countries (except Germany and Finland), and the USA, that the printing costs are increasing, and the influence of “citizen journalism” and social media is growing, then we would see that the theory and practice of journalism have to change in this new era of communication. Brock explained that the regional newspapers are not doing great either, and most of the news websites cannot be successful. He also noted that the quality of reporting has decreased because of the time pressure that the daily papers suffer from. Consequently, “churnalism” replaced original journalism in recent times. This refers to the journalism practice of media “slaves”, who are paid lower than they deserve and quickly rewrite press releases sent by PR companies.

Brock also pointed out that the internet increased the information quantity a lot compared to the past, but this does not always mean respected, credited and accurate information. However, he also pointed out that the internet has been seen as a scapegoat regarding the decrease of newspaper circulations. Actually, national newspaper circulations in the UK have not started with the discovery of the internet as many people think, but in 1950s when TV channels and radio stations began their broadcasting.

Another point is that the digital versions of newspapers have two other advantages. Firstly, they do not raise environmental concerns. Secondly, corrections and clarifications can be published immediately in these versions. Realising that newspaper circulations are dropping, The Times and Financial Times, two of the five daily quality newspapers in the UK, have created a paywall for their digital content.

The digital edition of Financial Times, focusing on business, economy and finance is now selling much more than its hardcopy edition. For more information regarding the digital subscription system of British newspapers, you can read my blog post titled “The Future of Print Media in the UK: Subscription System and ‘Freemium’ Magazines”.

This all means that journalism as a profession and print newspaper as a newsgathering device are having a hard time now. So why Brock goes for optimism and what is his suggestion to resolve these issues? Firstly, we have to accept that advertisement will not exist anymore as the sole big source of income for hardcopy papers. Journalists have to adapt themselves to this as soon as possible. As well as finding new sources of income, developing new business models is essential because online publishing could not find one until now.

It is clear that hardcopy newspapers are not read to access to news anymore because people found other ways to quickly access to news. However, although their significance as a news gathering device will be decreased more in the future, printed papers will no die, as they are a rich source of comment and analysis. They will only transform. For example, daily papers will be replaced by weekly or Sunday papers. Also, some newspapers will become specialised magazines.

According to Brock, for newspapers to be successful there may not be a unique formula or a magic wand that can be useful while in this transition period. But journalists’ morality and judgment is essential anyway: “We’re entering a new communications age and no one can accurately predict what exactly those needs will be. We can only equip ourselves better to navigate change.” [1]

For more information about the future of journalism, you can refer to Brock’s personal website, focused on 21st century media and journalism: George Brock’s personal website

Image

George Brock
(Courtesy of George Brock)


[1] Source: Professor George Brock’s lecture titled “Is News Over?” at City University London, on 17 March 2010: