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Super-cool comms, Instagram zeitgeist and Alexa news

Adam Batstone

The rise of the podcast and voice activated technologies are likely to become increasingly significant in 2018. That was the view from MHP’s latest media panel event: Who Won The News, which brought together leading journalists from traditional and digital media.

Bryony Gordon, who hosts the Telegraph’s Mad World podcast, had a global scoop in April when she interviewed Prince Harry about his mental health in the years following the death of his mother, Diana Princess of Wales.

She was speaking alongside Nick Sutton, editor of the BBC News website, Harry Wallop; freelance feature writer; Kate McCann, senior political correspondent at The Telegraph and Ian Burrell, media correspondent for The i and The Drum

Kensington Palace have a super cool communications team who get that the podcast format is much better for a conversation of this nature, It’s more intimate and personal - Bryony Gordon

The rise of the podcast as a powerful way of telling a story was a point echoed by Nick Sutton. He said Laura Kuenssberg’s Brexit podcast was topping the iTunes chart because it has the tone and content which is perfect for a particular section of the audience.

“When I edited the World At One on Radio Four I never wanted to cut a good discussion short because of a self-imposed time limit. Audiences don’t understand why an interesting interview should finish just because my running order says it’s time for the weather,” said Sutton.

Ian Kirby, Kate McCann and Nick Sutton

Ian Burrell said he saw signs of encouragement for quality journalism amid the gloomy predictions about tumbling newspaper sales.

“We are seeing more robust business models in the newspaper market. The Times has reached 450,000 subscribers and The Guardian – which has been losing money heavily – now can boast 800,000 donors or subscribers. It’s a similar story in the US where more people are turning to quality journalism like the New York Times and Washington Post, particularly in the wake of Donald Trump,” he said.

Freelance feature writer Harry Wallop said he took heart from seeing important big stories like the Harvey Weinstein scandal still being uncovered by proper journalists with the time, resources and legal support to tackle big issues.

“I know there are new players in the market like Uni Lad and Lad Bible – they are part of the media, but what they do is not journalism. I work for so-called mainstream media because that’s where I will get paid for taking the time to do the research and get the story right,” said Wallop.

The Telegraph’s senior political correspondent Kate McCann said politics is changing as parties realise they no longer need to engage with traditional media. She said Number 10 will seldom agree to traditional in depth newspaper interviews with senior ministers, while Jeremy Corbyn’s media advisors prefer using the party’s own social and digital channels for statements or interviews rather than agreeing to a journalistic cross examination.

MHP Media Unit Director Keith Gladdis, former executive News Editor of The Daily Mail, presented a summary of new research conducted by Populus into public attitudes to the media. Headline results showed an overwhelming majority still use TV news as their number one source of news – and also consider TV the most reliable source of news.

Other results from the survey – including the fact that cute animal videos remain one of the most popular things for people to share – are included in the images below.

The panelists agreed that social media has had a major influence on the media – but it often made the world a more confusing and noisy place.

I gave up Tweeting the next day's newspaper front pages largely because I was getting so much abuse from trolls, it was depressing - Nick Sutton

But Bryony Gordon said social media has empowered a section of the audience whose voices previously went unheard.

“People used to look down on the ‘green ink brigade’ who used to write to newspapers. But through my interest in mental health issues social media has allowed me to reach people and have more of an impact than could have been possible before,” she said.

PANELIST PREDICTIONS FOR THE MEDIA IN 2018

Bryony Gordon – A royal baby, a royal wedding and more happy news

Ian Burrell – Increased dominance of TV news due to demand for video

Nick Sutton – News products and services aimed at voice technology like Alexa and Siri

Kate McCann – Quality newspapers get more subscribers willing to pay for proper journalism

Harry Wallop – World Cup overshadowed by fraud and doping scandals and Trump impeached