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The Future of 24-Hour News

New Directions, New Challenges

Edited By Stephen Cushion and Richard Sambrook

Over the last 30 years 24-hour television news channels have reshaped the practice and culture of journalism. But the arrival of new content and social media platforms over recent years has challenged their power and authority, with fast-changing technologies accelerating the speed of news delivery and reshaping audience behaviour. Following on from The Rise of 24-Hour News Television: Global Perspectives (Cushion and Lewis, 2010), this volume explores new challenges and pressures facing television news channels, and considers the future of 24-hour news. Featuring a wide range of industry and academic perspectives, including the heads of some of the major international news channels (BBC Global News, Al Jazeera and Sky News, among others) as well as leading academics from around the world, contributors reflect on how well rolling television news is reinventing itself for digital platforms and the rapidly changing expectations of audiences. Overall, the 24 chapters in this volume deliver fresh insights into how 24-hour news channels have redefined rolling news journalism – or potentially could do – in order to remain relevant and effective in supplying continuous news for 21st-century audiences.
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Chapter 9: View of the News Agencies: The Struggle for Renewal and Renaissance


← 102 | 103 →CHAPTER NINE

View of the News Agencies: The Struggle for Renewal and Renaissance


The era of the news agency dinosaurs ended on the night of January 16–17, 1991; the comet that changed their world forever was the first live broadcast of the start of a war. In the flash of a cruise missile over Baghdad, in the light of a bomb blast marking the start of the first Gulf War, the now shaky foundation of the news agencies’ dominance was exposed.

CNN’s live coverage of the war brought it directly into the audience’s living rooms. The middlemen were dis-intermediated. Worse yet, the suppliers became dependent on their customer!

The news agencies—at the time notably Worldwide Television News, Visnews, Associated Press (AP), Agence France-Press (AFP) and Reuters1—supplied the world’s media with text, photos, and video as they had in various guises since the modern news agency era began with the founding of Agence Havas (the forerunner to AFP) in 1835.2 That night, however, the tables were turned. Scores of breaking news alerts on the war were written not from Baghdad itself, but from New York by subeditors watching television and citing CNN’s live coverage. Video clips from that live coverage beat agency video packages by substantial margins.

As I sat in the Reuters Beijing bureau watching the news come over our slow teleprinter—until that moment as...

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