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W. T. Stead Lecture: Robot reporter: Journalism in the Age of Automation and Big Data

Emily Bell

When: Fri 25 Apr 2014, 18.30-20.00

Where: Conference Centre, British Library

Price: £8, (£6 Over 60s) and £5

Book now for 25 Apr 2014

The world of information is changing and journalism is buffeted by the disruption. Our stories are told now through vast network protocols and social networks by hundreds of people. The 'first draft of history' is now on a spreadsheet in the cloud rather than a notebook on a reporter's desk. In the newsroom we are on the brink of an explosion of drones, sensor technologies and wearable computing, turning our world into one where every event can be captured, intentionally or by stealth. When everything can be surveilled, what do we report? We are now in the age of drone journalism, but with technology running ahead of legality and ethics, how can journalism use the technology responsibly?

This W.T. Stead Lecture by Emily Bell - one of the leading figures in the development of Digital Journalism - examines some of these new technologies, how they will affect journalism and the role of reporters and editors, as well as their more creative uses. We will look at the possibilities and challenges of regulating big data and algorithms which have widespread power over our everyday lives and what role journalism can play.

Emily Bell is Professor of Professional Practice & Director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the University of Columbia. Previously she was director of digital content for Britain's Guardian News and Media from 2006 to 2010. Previous to that post, editor-in-chief of Guardian Unlimited from 2001 to 2006. Under Bell, the Guardian received numerous awards, including the Webby Award for a newspaper website in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009, and British Press Awards for Website of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Bell first joined the Observer newspaper, which became part of Guardian News and Media, in 1990, as a business reporter specializing in media business, marketing and technology. Bell is a leading media commentator in the UK, writing about broadcasting and media policy issues. She is a 1987 graduate of Christ Church, Oxford University, where she earned a master's degree in jurisprudence.

The W.T. Stead Lectures are named in honour of the pioneering and tenacious journalist who met an untimely death on board the Titanic. Stead explored what journalism could be in his time; the W.T. Stead Lectures continue to explore journalism in ours. The Stead Lectures are funded from the proceeds of W.T. Stead: Newspaper Revolutionary. 

Centenary Conference organised by Laurel Brake, Ed King, Roger Luckhurst and James Mussell.

The lecture also marks the opening of the British Library’s new News and Media Reading Room.