Bethan Jenkins AM, with Huw Marshall, Martin Shipton, and Ruth McElroy
As Chair of the Welsh Assembly’s Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, Bethan Jenkins AM is in listening mode. At a packed discussion on the future of the media in Wales on the 10th November she explained that, "although broadcasting is not devolved, it's an area of great importance to public life in Wales". Her committee’s inquiry into the media has already taken evidence from the broadcasters, and she is keen to hear the public's views, adding that the hearings are also, “about providing a public focus for debate".
Dr Ruth McElroy, from the University of South Wales which was hosting the evening at their ATRiuM building, welcomed the Committee's creation, which in her view was long overdue. McElroy, who is Co-Director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations, suggested that the challenges of globalisation are not unique to Wales. She said, "Corporations such as Google and Facebook wield enormous power, but they also offer significant opportunities". But she also stressed the need to get the views of audiences and to go beyond the narrow 'echo chamber' provided by social media.
Tim Hartley, who chaired the discussion, noted that the Welsh Government already provides arm's length financial support to a Welsh language on-line news service. The Western Mail’s Chief Reporter, Martin Shipton, speaking in an independent capacity, argued that public subsidy would also have to be forthcoming to sustain Wales' already limited English language press. In his view serious journalism is being sidelined, and trivial 'click-bait' stories are making the on-line reading experience far less satisfying than traditional print. "The current revenue models aren't working either - a lot of Trinity Mirror's digital ad revenue goes straight to Facebook," he said.
Digital producer and S4C's former Head of Digital, Huw Marshall, gave a more up-beat assessment of the state of the media in Wales, and announced that he is launching Y Newyddion, a new bilingual on-line news-service for Wales through a crowd funding model, with digital revenues derived from social media marketing. He said, "Audiences are looking for easily consumed informative short form video content delivered through a range of platforms including social media", adding that as a bilingual nation, "Wales is the ideal test bed for developing global, multilingual services”.
The session was recorded at the University of South Wales' TV Studio in Cardiff, and it will soon be available online, with a link here.
Update: Unfortunately the video will not now be available, 'due to circumstances beyond our control'.