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media futures: going local? « Previous | |Next »
August 3, 2009

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliances' important Future of Journalism initiative is concerned with what journalism might become with the decline of the old print business model and people increasingly consuming their comment, analysis, fun, trivia, whatever on the internet. Their Life in the Clickstream: The Future of Journalism was mentioned in this post and analysed in the comments of that post.

Their Wired Scribe weblog run by Jonathan Este is essential reading for anyone interested in knowing what people are saying about the paradigm shift in the media now happening around us. This post gives us new material by Jay Rosen, Phil Meyer and Roy Greenslade from the Sydney discussion, which was concerned with the scale of the pace of change. I do not know the focus of the subsequent Melbourne and Brisbane meetings/discussions.

One is planned for Adelaide late this month and it sounds as if it will consider the opportunities for new forms of journalism--looking to be more proactive about the revolutionary changes caused by the digital technology of the internet. That probably means journalists needing to acquire new skills an a different understanding of journalism.

Greenslade, from The Guardian made an interesting observation at the Sydney forum about the digital revolution:

I think also we are going to see two apparently contradictory things at the same time, one is globalisation and the other is localism. That is, that I think we will see the creation of local journalism, relatively small, much more involving of citizens, reporting on their community. But we are also going to see globalisation in the sense that we’re going to see at the moment: powerful brands, if I can use that awful word, like The Guardian, like The New York Times, like the Financial Times, where you’re seeing larger audiences outside their home base for those publications than you do at the moment. So, for instance we have more readers of The Guardian in the United States than we do in Britain on the Web. So, I think that powerful brands across the world could very well be the new emergence of journalism.

The truth of the matter is that as no Australian newspaper is likely to become a global newspaper they are going to have to reduce their costs and profit margins to bring them in line with reduced revenues. So they become lean and mean through layoffs and rationalizing their operations.

Though there’s lots of people already building the digital world what isn't really happening here in Australia is the emergence of local digital journalism, broadly defined that has its roots in the community. In Adelaide, for instance, we have future digital possibilities in the form of The Independent Weekly and The Adelaide Review, but these still look back to their print past. Presumably, their publishers have not invested in a digital future because they do not see it as a profitable business model. Since they are doing very little by way of creating value on the internet, there needs to be other ways to develop new forms of practising journalism, or facilitating a regional conversation on the internet about what is happening in SA.

Much more future promising is the embrace of a new collaborative form of journalism by the ABC, with its idea of digital regional hubs. But this form of citizen journalism and user-generated content is still on the drawing board. This open source model, in which there are lots of writers, lots of people who know stuff and lots of people who are in a position to issue an accurate report or to give a view on an issue will run into problems of finding people who will end up becoming regular or reliable contributors.

The Gatewatching crowd argue that:

online news sites operated by trusted public media organisations such as the ABC and SBS, and under the governance of clear and progressive guidelines for public media and their role in modern society, currently provide the best opportunity for citizen involvement in news, opinion, and public affairs.

The ABC is in the process of becoming a public media organisation.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:46 PM | | Comments (6)
Comments

Comments

Greenslade, in an interesting piece on new forms of the media, says:

I have tended to predict that future news organisations will consist of a small hub of "professional journalists" at the centre with bloggers (aka amateur journalists/citizen journalists) on the periphery. In other words, us pros will still run the show.

This is the old-fashioned view of journalism as an activity practised by "professionals" on behalf of citizens. Greenslade adds that he is
altogether less certain about that model now. First, I wonder whether us pros are as valuable as we think. Second, and more fundamentally, I wonder whether a "news organisation" is as perfect a model as we might think.

One key probably is to break down the old barrier between journalists and the audience.

"One key probably is to break down the old barrier between journalists and the audience"

I think that's true for Australia. The Guardian experience couldn't happen here, because we don't have any media with that kind of reputation.

So far our media organisations are refusing to become embedded in the online public network. They'll pinch ideas and quotes from it, but without acknowledging sources or linking. Essentially they're trying to broadcast on the internet.

Some individual journos are more embedded, but parts of the barrier stand, probably more because of the organisation than the journalist.

The local thing bothers me. If there's not much in Adelaide, Queensland is Brisbane-centric even though we have large Sunshine and Gold coast regions. It would be fair to say that anything that happens outside a km radius of Brisbane CBD doesn't register in independent space. Commercially, everything revolves around the Brisbane Courier Mail.

Peter,
Breaking down the old us and them barrier between journalists and the audience involves making the turn to community. What does that mean beyond the citizen journalist breaking local stories?

Lyn,
there are gaps in the regional markets of Adelaide and the Gold Coast, which suffer from domination by News Ltd's Advertiser and Brisbane Courier. That means there are spaces to grow digital online publications.

To make it viable in terms of getting it up and running it is going to have to be community based digital publication with citizen journalists and independent bloggers. That pretty much is a variation on the digital regional hub idea of the ABC.

it wouldn't take much for the Adelaide Review to host a couple of bloggers. Why cannot they follow the example of The Atlantic's innovative Voices or the bloggers at American Prospect in this? It doesn't cost much in terms of resources.

Nan,
dunno. The publishers of the Adelaide Review are Spanish and they had strong desires to become the second newspaper in Adelaide in competition to Murdoch's Advertiser. Events have bypassed them --- newspaper readership, especially among younger age groups, is continuing to decline and income from advertising is diminishing. Meanwhile, an increasing number of users are getting their news from a variety of online sources. So there's no future as an old style newspaper.

As it currently stands The Adelaide Review is more a small magazine than a newspaper. Their future is online as this is low cost publishing. They have a good brand in Adelaide, but it is not being grown organically.

The Adelaide Review needs a new and more entrepreneurial owner?