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

an old media debate revisited « Previous | |Next »
June 16, 2012

Martin McKenzie-Murray in Democracy running low on ink in the Fairfax Press's National Times says that one of the curious demarcations in the culture wars is that between "mainstream journalists" and independent writers.

He says that the battle goes like this:

independent writers charge that Canberra's press gallery has squandered their readers' goodwill with a mindless focus on trivia. With some, you detect a gleeful anticipation of the collapse of mainstream newspapers. The other side derides the bloggers' smug detachment from journalistic and political realities, arguing they know nothing of "shoe-leather endeavour".

The gleeful anticipation of the collapse of mainstream newspapers is a red herring. It is the low quality analysis of policy issues by the Canberra media gallery that is the problem.These journalists have not covered themselves in glory over the policy shift to carbon pricing--they have mostly written junk.

MOirAAbbotpython.jpg Alan Moir

McKenzie-Murray states that both sides have points. Many independent writers and bloggers provide commentary rather than reporting, depending on mainstream journalists' facts for their analysis. Much of our political reportage is dross, the web versions of our major newspapers are disheartening and publishers seem increasingly confused or cynical in their response to a haemorrhaging model.

He adds that high-end journalism is being eroded the world over, and the democratisation of micro-publishing isn't an antidote. High-end journalism for McKenzie-Murray appears to be investigative journalism of the Watergate model of Woodward and Bernstein at the Washington Post. Australian bloggers, in contrast, are given to repetition and apoplexy in their commentary.

I wouldn't argue that the democratisation of micro-publishing is an antidote to the erosion of high-end investigative journalism of the ABC's the Four Corners. It is an antidote to the mass deception by the Murdoch Press over issues such as NBN, climate change, renewable energy etc though. It is also an antidote to those trolls who use the freedom of the internet voice to insult, hassle, bully or abuse others; or those who use it to voice their hatred of their political opponents, liberally sprinkled with profanities and libellious rhetoric.

It is an online space to point out the weakness of the Canberra media gallery's arguments and to provide a voice for those who have been excluded from ongoing access to our national media.

Fairfax Media has announced that it will change the broadsheets ---The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age--- to tabloid-size and sack 1900 staff — including about 380 editorial positions — as part of a $235 million cost-cutting drive to cut the media corporations cloth to the steady decline in advertising revenue. It will also introduce digital paywalled subscriptions to the metro masthead websites on a “metered” basis — apparently similar to The New York Times.

Fairfax is broke and declining before our very eyes. The old model of selling eyeballs to advertisers isn’t going to sustain Fairfax much longer since its revenues are falling faster than it can cut costs.

They need a viable business model quickly in the context of the radical restructuring taking place in the media world wrought by the digital technologies and the absence of any clearly successful blueprints for change. Greg Hywood, the CEO, is trying to reorient the group from its traditional print base to a digitally-focused future. However, the reality that he is trying to replace high-margin legacy revenues with low-margin digital revenues compounds the degree of difficulty of executing the transition. It is vulnerable.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:34 AM | | Comments (8)


THe ABC- what a tragedy!
And last week was the worst week yet with them.
Same with Fairfax, apart from the board holding out No-hart.
I don't see how "business models" necessarily preclude good journalism, but they prefer the tabloid crap because it keeps the public from waking up.
As for the ABC, it's entire range of current affairs has deteriorated beyond amusing to downright offensive.
I can't stand the sight of any of them. Uhlmann, Alberici, you name it, it just induce a hit-button reaction- with the remote.
But the real blame rests with the politicians and worst of this time, Labor.
The Tories you expected no better of, but the Labor right, including people like Conroy and Rudd, loath the ABC more than they loath the few lefties left in what was once the home of lefties; the ALP.
And they loath both, more than they'd ever loath those they are supposed to loath, the Tories.
The ABC obviously are driving out the old audience for a newer one brought up on commercials and addicted to noise and idiocy. This is very attractive for the likes of Murdoch, who will buy the thing.
Kills off two birds with one stone.
Gets rid of broadsheet for both the politicians and proprietors and is a cosy "our thing" amongst the politicians and oligarchs as to deals etc
Cool, but for one thing. Murdoch has shown in Britain what we guessed all along; that he is an unfit person to own media and hopefully it's a spanner in the works for the lot of them.

People do still have freedom to choose their mode of media information. With the more choices they have nowadays it is easier for people to find the truth they believe or to be annoyed by their version of falsehood.
Particpating in news is not a necessity of life for people. More like a hobby I would suggest.

The Murdoch media haven't woken up to King Coal being on the way out, even though global investment in new power production shows the dramatic decline in fossil fuel investment, and an astonishing increase in renewables investment.

If they have, then they are just defending the dominance of the fossil fuel industry

The Murdoch Press's position is one of the “unchallengeable” dominance of fossil fuel power and the “inadequacies” of renewables.

Fairfax Media are in a bad way. Advertising revenue continues to decline.

They will cut 1900 staff and begin charging for content on the websites of its two main metropolitan newspapers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. They both have been losing money.

Will News Ltd follow suit?

The main strategy by Fairfax's successive managements in response to the inexorable decline in print revenues has been to cut costs.They failed to fully engage, understand and act on the disruptive threats of the internet.

If it is to have a future an indebted Fairfax has to prepare itself for a digital-only future, despite the uncertain economics of digital-only publishing. That means that Fairfax has to monetise its digital audiences which continue to grow ( whether by online, smart phone or tablet) even as the print circulation contracts.

Fairfax stock is barely above 60 cents. Its closing down its printing presses at Tullamarine.

Will The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age moving to a tabloid-styled size save them? Fairfax will expects its journalists to do more with less

The old Fairfax is gone. Will a new Fairfax will rise out of the ashes?