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May 16, 2005

Forum on the media

Jay Rosen, who runs PressThink, was in Australia recently to participate in the 2005 Alfred Deakin Innovation Lectures in Melbourne. He joined Lance Knobel on the May 11th program, 'Reporting Change: the media and innovation' at the Melbourne Town Hall.

Lance argued that something fundamental has changed in the media world. Lance says that the media finds itself in a period of rapid, dramatic change. He charts this change in terms of the new tools such as blogging, google, the wiki and RSS feeds. This is a description of the tools. Lance calls them the tools of media democracy as they enable more of us to become users rather than consumers or managers of news.

So what are people doing with these tools?

Lance says they hold out the prospect of users moving in a more creative direction. How so? He describes this trajectory in term of weblogs being information nodes that actively filter and retransmit knowledge. This gives them the potential to enable citizens to navigate through the thicket of information. So webloggers are in a position to become trusted intermediaries for diverse consumers of information.

Fair enough. It is nice reporting of the changes that are happening in the mediascape. But we kinda knew that already. Moreover, webloggers do not just filter and retransmit what is provided by the corporate media. They also comment and interpret, shape the public conversation on issues the corporate media ignores, and often send that conversation in different directions.

What did Jay Rosen say?

He talked about each nation having its own press and the press as a circulator of public argument, pushing ideas against events to create editorial traction and grab attention. He says that the great migration to a new platform, the Internet, is being made. This means that the very media tools once commandeered by professionals fall into public hands and that the technology platform on which mainstream journalism has rested for so long---the "one to many" media system---has ended. Jay adds:

Many sharp people have noticed that we are living today in a great era of pamphleteering made possible by the Internet, along with one of its native forms and most powerful inventions-- the modern weblog, which is only an aspect of an even more powerful invention: the interconnected sphere of weblogs.

Okay we know that too. It is the corporate press who are slow on the uptake in Australia.

Jay point that:

..each nation will shortly have a chance to re-establish or overhaul its own press. Or to create one anew.

is a good one. However, he doesn't say how is Australia doing that. Presumably that is up to Australians.

Alas few are considering thisas the corporate media is not very self-reflective. Even Hugh Martin offers little on this, as he just reports and links.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 16, 2005 10:27 AM

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How did deakin get his name next to the work "innovation". Australia has spent the last century trying to flush Deakinism out of the country. Immigration, protectionism, High Court, monarchism etc etc - we still arent finished.

Mass media is not so much media but instead a distribution mechanism. A mass media commentator isn't remarkable in themselves, it is their audience courtesy of mass media's distribution system. Devine and Kingston are extremely poor journalists and commentariat. The Au blogoffisphere is far better than their best efforts. They only have an audience because they ride the SMH's distribution mechanism.

I think it is important to note that it isnt the media, or the quality of the journalism that has changed, it is the distribution mechanism that has changed. Due to the low barrier of entry it means new content creators are replacing the likes of Kingston and Devine - which is a good thing - many of the mainstream journalists publish little more than lazy trolls.

Posted by: Cameron Riley at May 16, 2005 12:36 PM

you could see the Deakin Innovation Lectures in terms of tradition and renewal within the liberal political tradition. The Lecture's blurb says the series aim is 'to discuss and promote the contributions of society’s most creative and innovative individuals through a diverse range of topics.'

I agree with you that the corporate mass media is a distribution system (a centralized one-to-the-many system) and that the interconnected weblogs mean the distribution system has changed and there is now more diversity of views.

However,I don't go along with your view that commentary by weblogggers is good whilst the commentary by mainstream journalists is bad. It is more complex than that. There is some good commentary in the corporate media---better than that being produced by webloggers.

Posted by: Gary Sauer-Thompson at May 16, 2005 02:22 PM

Gary, I didn't mean that all mass media is bad and all new media is good. I do believe that in the Australian media, many bloggers have surpassed many of the mainstream commentators for quality. A writer publishing to the mainstream media is no guarantee of their writing quality.

As to Deakinism, it took 70 years to rid ourselves of restrictive immigration, eighty to rid ourselves of protectionism and the privy council. Monarchism remains today. Deakin, like Curtin, gets far too easy a run in Australian history.

Posted by: Cameron Riley at May 16, 2005 09:40 PM

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