Sunday, April 29, 2012

Convergence or Submergence?

The history of media regulation in Australia is one of the communications bureaucracy playing a no-win game of catch-up with technology. Just as a regulatory regime is nailed down, another revolutionary distribution mechanism appears out of nowhere and rips up the floorboards again.

The final report of the government's Convergence Review is an attempt to future-proof the rules for a digital age in which standalone notions of print vs broadcasting have been rendered obsolete by technology that allows media to deliver text, audio, and video over wired and wireless connections.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sex Text Pest Bests Rest Test

As with dramatists, journalists thrive on sex and conflict. We love to weave narratives around contested, err, positions. And the more passionate the partisans, the more drama we can wring out of the contest. You could say that without sleaze and conflict, there is no story. Which is why the Peter Slipper saga is heaven for hackdom.

By contrast, sleaze and conflict didn't figure in the federal government's $3.7 billion aged care reform package. Sold as "more choice, easier access and better care" for older Australians, the package was warmly welcomed by a broad cross section of aged care providers, consumers and unions. Policy academics also gave it the big tick. Not even the famed Tony Abbott's "Noalition" appeared to want to put up a fight. The website of his shadow minister  makes no mention of the report.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nowhere Man

One of the cherished myths of mainstream media critics of the internet is that it is almost wholly populated by paranoiacs, single-issue fanatics, stalkers, train-spotters and sundry geeks occupying the far reaches of the autistic spectrum. Thank God, they say, for the reasoned professionals in the nation's newsrooms.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Reimagining Journalism

If you were starting a journalistic enterprise today, what would you do? You could sink $50 million into printing, marketing and distribution, hire 30 staff  and pray that Murdoch doesn't destroy you before your credit runs dry. No thanks.

Or you could start from first principles, ask what journalism is for and go from here. For most of us who sought to make a living from this profession/craft/trade in the last few decades, it's been about hitching our aspirations to a mainstream media company. But given the grim plight of industrial era journalism, that's not a career move one would recommend to youngsters today.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Going Analog

It is less than 20 years ago that the US financial news organisation I then worked for started asking journalists to put an email address at the bottom of every story. I remember snorting at the presumption that our readers were as nerdish as our tech-head editor in Washington.

Move on two decades and we find journalists doing the bulk of their work over the internet - through research, finding contacts, sourcing background, remote editing and doing interviews. Technology has transformed the craft from one-to-many publishing to many-to-many. But for all the ease that digital newsgathering has provided, there is still something to be said for getting out from behind the screen and into the analog world.