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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

changing media times « Previous | |Next »
January 1, 2006

I've previously mentioned the ongoing decline in newspapers (Fairfax) magazines (The Bulletin) and free-to air television (Channel Nine) due to the impact of the internet. The media landscape is changing, but in what way?

The Daily Briefing draws out attention to an op ed at Newsday by Todd Gitlin and Oliver Sylvain that confirms the decline of newspapers. Drawing on the US experience they say:

Indeed, virtually every major newspaper holding company in America has announced reorganizations, sell-offs, buyouts, and--- most alarming to anyone who cares about journalism's watchdog role in a democracy---staff cuts. By whacking back staff, newspapers are cutting the very newsgathering resources that are their wherewithal. They're cutting muscle, then cutting into bone. This is not only a disgrace to American journalism; it's a myopic business plan.

This is standard operating practice at Fairfax and Channel Nine, despite the profits being made. So what is happening?

Gitlin and Sylvain say that the media:

"...chains are running scared from the very business of news gathering. In doing so, they're likely tilting into a downward spiral. Shedding reporters, they'll sacrifice scope and depth, range and investigation. This will probably cost them still more readers. Losing readers, they'll lose advertisers and revenue, too."

So they boost their circulation through dodgy practices (giveaways).
Online media are now filling the vacuum thereby created: --eg., Eric Beecher and Di Gribble's Crikey, Margo Kingston's WebDiary, Graham Young's OnlineOpinion, Jeremy Heiman's and David Madden's GetUp, Lindsay Tuffin's Tasmanian Times and John Menadue's New Matilda open up space for something different to the old media.

Natasha Cica, writing in The Age says that none of the online media has fully capitalised on the secret of old media's former success - must-read reportage from surprising angles with pointy hooks that relied, lest we forget, on the shock of exposing the edgy new. Should the new media be like the old media? Isn't the online space one of allowing diverse voices and perspectives?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:41 AM | | Comments (0)