London’s Coffee Houses were once at the epicentre of British science, commerce and journalism.
In the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century coffee houses were where the great and good met to exchange information and ideas. By the late Seventeenth Century there were thousands in England.
So successful were coffee houses as places for the disaffected to congregate that Charles II tried to suppress them.
The commercialisation and professionalisation of journalism took it away from its coffee house roots. But as the money is sucked out of journalism, the industry is showing signs of returning to its coffee house roots. Freelancers have long frequented cafes to tap out stories furiously on their laptops and sometimes to take advantage of free WiFi. Now big media organisations in the US are encouraging reporters to work in cafes in order to connect with readers.
There are signs that this trend is taking off in the UK, both at grassroots level and in big media organisations. In this month’s issue of The Journalist I wrote about news organisations that are making moves towards putting the newsroom back at the heart of their community. You can read the article by following this link and going to page 14.