Fleet Street and the future of British journalism

For any individual that is even thinking about a career in journalism, the two words: Fleet Street, will spark a fond thought of what others have labelled as the “Street of Shame” and the seagulls that are regarded as the British press. From the 18th century up until the mid-1980s, it was undoubted that it was the centre of national newspaper journalism in the UK and it was there that the newspapers found their gossip from the coffee houses rather than using a hashtag.

However, as The National newspaper in the UAE so ineloquently phrased it, “Fleet Street finally succumbs to the digital media age” as the last two journalists for the Sunday Post in Scotland followed into redundancy last Friday. 

The street that no longer belongs to the journalists is now home to banks and restaurants, but that doesn’t stop the history that is literally engraved upon the street. Scattered among Fleet Street and the surrounding streets where journalists made their name, there are plaques dedicated to the likes of Charles Dickens, the Daily Courant, which was Britain’s first daily newspaper and even the internet.


‘End of one paragraph’

There is a church that was labelled the journalist’s church which has a spire that became the template for what is now the traditional wedding cake, a library dedicated to printing… wherever you look, there is something that someone could tell you a story about whether you want them to or not. It has been 30 years since Fleet Street was the centre of all things newspaper but there is still much to discover.

Despite the richness of history Fleet Street possesses, that is all it has, history, as there are no more remaining journalists occupying it. Does this mean newspaper journalism is heading the same way?

As reported in a 2015 article in The Guardian, “year on year, every daily saw its circulation fall”, but this is to be expected with the arrival of internet articles, however this by no means raises flags for extinction. People like to read a newspaper, they like to flick through the pages, pencil in their crossword, things that can’t be achieved with a push of a button; it’s a tradition.

For years newspaper journalism has been attacked and as Tim Luckhurst, professor of Journalism at the University of Kent, wrote way back in 2008, “buy a paper for democracy” and do your bit so to speak by keeping newspapers in the loop.

Concluding the previously regarded National article was this, articulated by Gavin Sheriff, one of the aforementioned reporters that left Fleet Street: “Journalism, like any business has to evolve. It just so happens we’re at the end of one paragraph, while there’s paragraphs and chapters to be written.”

We’ve let this happen to a street that we can now visit, immersing ourselves in a culture that was but to let this happen to newspapers. Well, that’s a travesty.

What do you think? What is the outlook for journalism? Have your say in the comments section below.