Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has described Twitter as "wonderful" but said that without traditional news reporters "we are all f****d".
He was speaking at a special debate on phone hacking, which included Carl Bernstein, one of the journalists famed for breaking the Watergate story.
Rusbridger said: "I think Twitter is a wonderful medium, but in the end there are people represented in this audience tonight and they are called reporters, and reporters like these - once we lose reporters - we are all f****d.
"We need reporters who go out and do reporting. That is not the same as Twitter. That is endangered too because of the economics of newspapers and some people are not aware how great a danger that is. Let's hear it for reporters," he said.
The debate was organised by the Guardian to assess the damage to the press following the phone hacking scandal which it pursued.
The panel of experts, who were chaired by Channel 4 presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, took questions from the audience.
They included Pulitzer Prize winning Bernstein, George Eustice, former press secretary to David Cameron, Sylvie Kauffmann, editorial director of Le Monde and Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian.
When asked if the press needed to be more regulated Bernstein said: "The only tool at our command is good reporting and the use of shame.
"We have to stop this fiction about the press media not being part of the larger culture. Our institutions have lost the trust of the people. If there is a single thing going on in the world today from the Middle East to New York to Greece is a lost in trust in our institutions especially government and regulatory institutions.
"The press deserves a lot of that loss of trust. We have to ask ourselves why in this current culture people are seeking information not to be more illuminated, but rather seeking information to reinforce already held ideological and political beliefs. That is where our journalism is headed as well."
Kauffmann was quizzed about the French media's coverage of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal and why it was not pursed as ruthlessly as phone hacking was by the Guardian.
"It exposed the weakness of the media in France," she admitted.
"Mostly because journalists thought it was off limits, they thought it was his private life. A lot of people, after it happened, said 'but this was his private life?'
"The limit between what is public and what is private is very delicate issue in France. I think this is going to change because of what happened."
Asked again about the state of journalism in a modern, social connected era Bernstein added: "One of the things journalists have done is to hold conferences to give us an idea of how self important we are. I think you are listening to a bunch of dinosaurs who are self-involved, all of us.
"This is the last slap of the dinosaur's tale."
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