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

goodbye to the media as watchdog « Previous | |Next »
September 30, 2009

Roy Greenslade makes a penetrating point about what is happening to the British Press:

The press is no longer acting as a watchdog. It does not bite or bark. It has muzzled itself and retired to the kennel to live off PR scraps.

Isn't that the same in Australia, especially with the rural press in regional Australia, which is more or less owned by Fairfax Media and Rural Press. Margaret Simons observation about the rural press:
The main conclusion is that there has been little interest, or ability, to unify the various businesses. They are nothing if not various. What energies have been expended have been focused on unifying the advertising, not the quality of the journalism.

In the smaller capital cities such as Adelaide, journalism is sinking into casual endemic civic corruption because the commercial and political authorities are no longer held accountable by journalists. Journalism functions as part of the publicity machine of commercial and political authority through the cut and paste of the press release that produces bland pap.

Simons goes on to ask:

Surely at a time of drought, reduced water allocations to irrigators, political neglect and so on and so forth, there is more to say and room for a sharper edge to rural news reporting? And where is the leveraging of the journalistic strength of Fairfax? The investigative pieces on water allocations, that could run in the cities and across the group? Or the gutsy state political reporting of issues of rural relevance? Or the evidence that Fairfax reporters are primed with tough questions from the regions to throw at state and federal politicians? So much potential, unexploited.

Clay Shirkey argues that we are headed into a long trough of decline in accountability journalism because the old models are breaking faster than the new models will be put in their place.

If commercial media is a death by a thousand cuts, then not-for-profit journalism becomes a distinct alternative, if only because it represents a break from commercial media. So argues Greenslade.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:30 PM | | Comments (4)


What accountability? Jonathan Este argues that the fragile egos of brand name journos is also a problem.

With advertisers in one corner and prima donas in the other there's not much room left for public accountability. Add the boardrooms and it gets worse.

and not just Adelaide.

The Canberra Times has become a provincial rag that does not even bother to try to cover the national politics that is happening in its own town with an excellent research university. It's becoming ever more parish pump under the Brian McCarthy regime, which is designed to trash quality journalism in order to reduce costs.

The product is bad. The problem lies with the product newspapers are now delivering.

It's now a question of quality journalism existing without the classified ads. I cannot see it being done under Fairfax. They just keep cutting their costs to bring them onto line with reduced revenue. I cannot see them subsidising quality journalism through other, more profitable, enterprises.

journalism in general is giving itself an uppercut. I'm currently in the UK where "The Sun" newspaper has come out and said it is deciding to support the conservative party.
Whats wrong with just presenting the facts?