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Jonathan Levy, Sky News: How Broadcasters can Prove Their Worth in a World of Limitless Information

By Kate Fallis


In a world of seemingly limitless information, news organisations aren’t just competing with each other, they’re competing with literally everyone. So how can broadcasters prove their worth in this digital age with so much user generated content? That was the one question asked by third speaker Jonathan Levy at Shout’s ‘Big Talk’ that really stood out to me. He’s the Director of News Gathering at Sky News, and he provided fantastic insights for television broadcasters in particular.

Firstly, his question poses many challenges for the editorial side of things. It was interesting to hear from Jonathan that they have more specialist and foreign correspondents at Sky now than ever before – even more than general reporters. He spoke of the extreme need for them to provide such specialist and niche information, rather than just replaying what people can already see on their general Facebook or Twitter feeds. After all, television now seems to be a place where certain types of people go to get certain types of news, and on top of that, they want it presented in a very certain way. So it’s up to places like Sky News to figure out who is still watching and what they want to see. It was also revealed to us that there isn’t as much of a hierarchy in the newsroom as there used to be. Now, it’s not necessarily the editor who has the most power, but specialist reporters with their specific knowledge. Jonathan mentioned their economics reporter, whose job didn’t even exist six years ago, is now one of the most trusted and in-demand journalists.

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For example, Sky have recently covered the US Election and Brexit quite heavily in the form of features, rather than just in their news bulletins. It’s those kinds of new, more in-depth features that give Sky the good reputation they have and want to continue having in the future. Jonathan sees it as the way forward for Sky in many ways – being a place where people can come to digest the information they may have already seen online. There will always be a market for reliable information that’s been put into perspective. Then there’s the issue of making your content as shareable as it can be. For Facebook, this could mean posting short video snippets of a longer programme to entice people into watching the whole thing. Often now, once a program has been aired on television, it will be stored in some kind of online hub for those who may have missed it. Even that can become quite a profitable exercise for broadcasters if they use advertising within the online programme and then plug it on their social media sites.

Jonathan also mentioned the various consumption challenges broadcasters are now dealing with on top of that. There is no denying there’s been a slow and steady migration away from television to things like tablets and mobile devices. In saying that though, Jonathan interestingly pointed out that TV revenue is still much higher than digital. Perhaps it’s more about discovering how people want to see their news, rather than where. Televisions could become far more interactive, just like tablets and smartphones, in order to engage a different audience. And as Alex Chandler mentioned, virtual reality television could be on the way, so the broadcast industry will, in my opinion, continue to develop and strengthen in the future.

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