One thing Rory Cellan Jones’s lecture taught me last week was journalists still have it in them to introduce a topic well. Rhyming and alliteration all in one title: “College of Knowledge: from Typewriter to Twitter,” this, I felt, had us off to a good start.

So what did Rory want to communicate to us; a lecture hall of increasingly jaded and probably decreasingly attentive journalism students? First of all he was keen to point out the difference between journalism now and journalism then (then being the 1980s when Rory was first starting out and when leggings and leg-warmers were in for the first time round).

One big change was in the way Rory told us this now familiar story. As we all know, a picture tells a thousand words. By my rough estimation then, the use of pictures and audio must tell at least ten thousand words. Seeing the breakfast news broadcast from over 25 years ago, really brought home to me the changes in news reporting we have lived through – and no, I don’t just mean the demise of the shoulder pad – and continue to live through today.

The difference in the treatment of Black Wednesday in 1992 and a comparable news story today is stark. There were very little graphics used and no feedback from the public. Today on its website, the BBC has dedicated a whole story not just to views of the audience but to videos of Joe Public expressing those views.

Quite a turn around then. Linked to this is Rory’s premise that 24 hour news channels may have already peaked since people are more likely to go online to access news as quickly as possible. This relates to a previous blog post of mine which discussed the advantages of using the web to break news.

What was most refreshing about Rory was that he did not have an unwavering belief in all these new forms of technology. He pointed out that while twitter may have been a way of disseminating news about the Mumbai shootings, the ‘pivotal’ role some people gave it was an exaggeration. Rory said it was actually very hard to find people who were breaking the news rather than just regurgitating what they had seen on TV or the web.

For me Rory hit the balance completely right. While open to innovation and ways in which technology can broaden and strengthen our reporting, he did not bow down to the god of web 2.0 and tell us it provided all things to all people.

There is still a place today for the journalistic qualities revered in the 8os. While we may be using more platforms to share information and news, that does not have to mean a change of mould altogether.