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

Media140 Sydney revisited « Previous | |Next »
November 12, 2009

There are blog posts and reflections about Media140 Sydney's "future of journalism" conference now surfacing on the internet. These reflections are taking steps beyond the immediate comments on the day by both journalists and bloggers

These start from an acceptance that the media industry is changing dramatically, that journos are rapidly getting into online media and engaging with social media. One of the more interesting is that by Neerav Bhatt. In The future of journalism in 140 characters on the ABC's Unleashed forum he steps beyond addressing:

the well-worn arguments about bloggers vs. journalists, media outlets sacking journalists by the hundreds, the demise of newspapers and erosion of free-to-air TV audiences that threaded themselves through the conference.

He suggests that we work our way through the 10 points that constitute Jay Rosen's important Rebooting the News System in the Age of Social Media which formed the basis for his keynote address.

If you weren't at the conference, or watched the live feed of the keynote, then you along with me need to work our way through these 10 points, as they form a complex layered interpretation of what is happening in the global mediascape.

It was a significant keynote address and we in Australia are engaging with, and interpreting, his work in terms of its significance for us within the Australian mediascape. In the earlier post I'd picked up on point one on audience atomization in the closed system with its one-to-many world.

There Rosen argues that the press was able to define the sphere of legitimate debate with relative ease because the people on the receiving end were atomized-- connected "up" to Big Media but not across to each other. I observed that:

Telling our stories means challenging the way the media maintains boundaries around the sphere of legitimate debate; undermining the way that what Jay Rosen calls the “ground” of consensus is established by the professional political class in Canberra, and then offering that tightly bounded consensus to the country as if it were the country’s own.

Rosen points out that what’s really happening is that the authority of the press to assume consensus, define deviance and set the terms for legitimate debate is weaker when people can connect horizontally around and about the news.The atomization effect is overcome.

Rosen's second point is that though closed and open platforms and editorial systems (the press and the social media sphere) are different, they are not separate things. They are richly interactive with one another in the news and information marketplace.They are also interactive in terms of media values such as neutrality, trust, ethics and transparency.

The third links to Dave Winer's interpretation of a newspaper'snews process within this new mediascape. The New York Times is not:

not the printing press, the trucks, or even the editors and reporters. It is the logo and the tradition, the history. Whatever the Times does, it must not diminish the value of the brand, it must enhance it. The challenge is to tap into the enormous potential of the Internet as a news creation and delivery system ...To understand how news works, you need to visualize a flow diagram that includes all the elements of the news process. All the people, not just the reporters and editors. That's where the growth is going to come from.

So basically the Times must evolve, just a little, to see their sources not just as quotes, but also as reporters with a beat -- their expertise. If bloggers get their ideas from news people, then the news people get their ideas from bloggers, including a lot of the bloggers they don't like are also sources. It also means that the newspaper gets a person (ie user generated content) to cover an event for them.

The fourth point picks up on media technologies enabling people to become citizens and the significance of the shift from one-to-many communication (broadcaster) to a many-to-many network using digital media. The argument is that those persons, who were once the audience or readers of the media, are now using the press tools (blogging, podcasting, the Web, cheap digitial cameras, desktop editing) to inform one another about newsworthy events.

This is citizen journalism. They don't need the press to talk to, and inform, one another online. This is a shift from one-to-many communication (broadcaster) to a many-to-many network using digital media. This is about public, civic, citizen participation not just about helping news operations at Fairfax of News Ltd to get a free staff or develop better coverage.

'Citizen' make the link to a political culture and democracy, which in Australia is liberal democracy and brings into play all the historic tensions between liberal and democracy and the way that liberalism represents democracy.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:01 AM | | Comments (1)


Not everyone is plugged in to social media. Big media still plays a central role in relaying messages further afield.

Thinking about Jason's article and several other examples (Antony Green, Annabel Crabb, Leigh Sales etc) it will be interesting to see whether they start incorporating the back channels into content. Hungry Beast is doing a fair bit of that, including blog comments into broadcast content.

Q and A does to some extent, but could go a lot further.