Technological change, we are often told, has brought a crisis of news. Twitter and the smartphone are said to threaten the very future of journalism. Can history help us respond? As the bicentenary of Waterloo approaches, Professor Brian Cathcart considers news before electrical or steam-powered communication existed, when it took days for the news of Wellington’s victory to travel 200 miles to London. How did humans cope? What do we recognise in their conduct and what is different? Is there a human news instinct – in the teller, in the receiver, or in both? And if there is, what does that mean for today’s crisis in journalism?
Brian Cathcart is professor of journalism at Kingston University London. He was co- founder and director of Hacked Off and is the author of several books, including Were You Still Up for Portillo? and The Case of Stephen Lawrence. His latest book, The News from Waterloo, will be published in spring 2015 by Faber & Faber.
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