Sky News Head: 'Golden Era For Journalism'

Tom Cheshire, Technology Correspondent

New technologies and the growth of the internet are creating a golden era for journalism, the head of Sky News has declared.

Despite warnings from the BBC's former director of global news, Sky News head John Ryley said that "the pessimists who look backwards to some mythical golden age of journalism are mistaken".

"The golden age is now - and even more so in the immediate future."

In a speech to the Royal Society of Arts, Ryley argued that technology was helping both newsgathering and production.

"We have more tools at our disposal than ever - not just to report events as they happen, but to analyse them, explain them and put them in context."

"Smartphones, tablets, connected devices and the rest mean that all news is now available non-stop, live and on-demand," Ryley said.

Ryley said that news organisations that remained "agile, nimble and adaptable" would survive.

He pointed to figures from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism suggesting that the more devices people own, the more news they consume.

Some 77% of people who get news from their smartphone and 81% of those who get it from a tablet also watch it on TV, according to the research.

The remarks were a direct rebuke to a piece written by Richard Sambrook and Sean McGuire, who argued that on-demand news available through the internet meant rolling news channels were no longer relevant.

"Their argument is simply too narrow and out-of-date. It considers an old world where it's possible to pigeon hole organisations and what they do."

"News organisations can no longer be categorised so easily. Sky News is not just a rolling news channel - just as The Guardian or The Times is not only a newspaper."

Ryley said that Sky News also provided text, graphics, audio and video according to viewers' needs, as well as an on-demand news service.

But live, rolling coverage - while not sufficient on its own - remains crucial, he said: "It is the spine of our non-stop news service, its main source of strength."

He pointed out that new live streaming services from the Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post were effectively rolling news channels - just not on TV.

"You can call it a channel or a live stream… if we didn't have it we would have to invent it."

Ryley also challenged news organisations to deliver both breadth and depth in their coverage.

"Accuracy and truth and depth in journalism also have real, immediate and lasting value."