Final ses­sion. Gerard Noonan has started with a descrip­tion of how filing in the old days involved finding a pay phone, drop­ping a coin in the slot, dialing, unscrewing the cover of the handset and attaching alligator clips to it to send what he calls “actu­ality” down the line.

This last ses­sion is another bunch of older white men who run news­rooms. They are Steve Foley, Deputy Editor of The Age; Michael Wilkins, Man­aging Editor, Daily & Sunday Tele­graph and mX; and Murray Cox, Exec­utive Pro­ducer, AAP Digital. They’re sup­posed to be talking about how the “integ­rated news­room” changes the way “we” work. I’m pre­suming “we” are journ­al­ists although all these men are man­agers now.

It seems, so far, to be a nos­talgia ses­sion.

But wait, Steve Foley is talking about the new layout of the news­room, how the desks have been moved from an oblong of dis­tance to a theatre in the round, lit­er­ally. I already knew this from Dan Ziffer, but the Age has shifted the main eds (news, pic­ture, online, the works) into a circle where they all talk to each other and with a back circle of 18 seats of sec­tion eds and related seniors. Appar­ently this is a test run before The Age moves to a new building in two years’ time.

There’s a bunch more but fun­nily enough my main sense is that this final ses­sion is mis­placed. Why are all these guys from news­pa­pers? This isn’t the future of journ­alism they’re talking about, it’s the future of news­pa­pers. Which isn’t why we’re here. Or at least, I thought that was a very old dis­cus­sion.

Where is someone from the ABC’s very integ­rated news­room where text had no place until the advent of the net? How do they deal with TV, radio and online? What about someone from SBS with the same issues and pre­sum­ably mul­ti­lin­gual, multi-news sources? And what about someone from left field, someone from a pre­dom­in­antly online space who is dealing with the new “integ­rated news­room” in an entirely dif­ferent way?

I get the sense, in the end, as Chris Warren from the IFJ says, that rather than being Jay Rosen’s willing migrants about to chart a course to the prom­ised land, I am listening to a bunch of digital con­victs, thrown on board a ship not knowing where they’re going and not quite sure why they’re being pun­ished by being sent to this incom­pre­hens­ible place but determ­ined to make a go of it anyway.

I will prob­ably muse a little more over the next few days. I fin­ished my after­noon having a coffee with my good old friend David Sutton, from those old days of 3am philo­sophy I was talking about the other day, who is now Man­ager, Cor­porate Devel­op­ment at the ABC. Oh, how the humble have risen. We nattered. It was good.