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

media: the amateur returns « Previous | |Next »
March 3, 2009

In Choice for local newspapers: evolve or die in the Financial Times Roger Parry says that with the web a working reality, the old advertising income is never coming back to print. The standard response to meltdown--eg., at Fairfax---is a ruthless cost-cutting that does more of the same, more cheaply. Well not quite the same, as Fairfax is increasingly shifting to infotainment on the 24/7 website. In doing so they give up their gatekeeping role in the agora.

Parry argues that something dramatic must happen to make community media franchises viable, such as strong weekly paper – in effect a print-out of the best content from a well-resourced 24/7 website. He adds:

Journalists are often busy doing things the audience no longer want. The traditional professional output is no longer valued by readers. Much, but not all, of local news gathering, feature production and photography are better done by enthusiastic amateurs for next to nothing. Want a critique of local rubbish collection policies? Ask a local resident for 500 words. It matters to them and they are more connected than a journalist sent over in a taxi. Want passionate reporting of local sports? Ask the fans. There will remain a vital role for trained journalists in investigations, analysis and quality control. But it will need fewer of them. They will need new skills of assembling user-generated content including video, digital pictures and audio.

This is a different way of doing business. In Australia it is exemplified by Crikey's use of, and reliance on, user generated content. The amateur returns. What then?

Why just produce work for the local tabloid? The produsing amateurs set up their own weblogs, websites and photoblogs, thereby creating more diverse voices in, and in turn, revitalizing the agora. And so we have stepped into the world of the creative industries and innovation and the shifting of policy in the creative industries beyond traditional industry development in areas like media or advertising to look at creative inputs right across the economy.

It is innovation policy not old‐style cultural policy that presents the compelling challenge for government.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:31 AM | | Comments (2)


Did the amateur really leave in the first place or has the Internet just given more of them an opportunity to publish?
I'm old enough to remember cheap, two-page Roneo copies of local news handed out by the same sort of individuals who blog now.
As well as recall a time whent bill posters once did more than advertize goods or entertainment.

As for the excuse that
"Journalists are often busy doing things the audience no longer want."
All I know is that once journalists virtually stopped doing in-depth investigative reporting and advertorials started to litter the newpapers, then my loyalty to print media began to decline.

The way the advertising industry is responding is starting to get interesting. They're working out the viral YouTube video, though you wouldn't want to be in charge of predicting what will, and what won't, go viral.

There's a bunch of new Doritos ads encouraging people to come up with their own ad. It works to the extent that I know they're advertising Doritos, but it won't make me buy them. Advertising should go down as one of the greatest hoaxes in human history.

One of news media's biggest problems is its seriousness. Its legitimacy is traditionally tied to its importance in a properly functioning democracy, but democracy seems to be doing reasonably well despite everything.

I'm waiting for one of those surveys on where people get their news to include gossip as an option. That seems to be how the Canberra press gallery get their news.