Comment: The NYT in Australia

In case you’ve not heard of this story, click here for the press release: Damien Cave – NY Times Comes to Australia

Today’s audio story: Alex Wake – The Daily

The big story in journalism circuits this week is the announcing of the New York Times opening bureaus around the world. This story will consider the bureau opening in Sydney – the one led by Damien Cave. Admittedly, when I first read this press release, I felt terribly excited. It’s great that an organisation as reputable as NYT is expanding its wings and including Australian stories in its global coverage. I mean, to put it to a picture:

HOWEVER – it’s not all chips and gravy. With the NYT moving into the already tense and cramp Australian media landscape, it makes competition even greater and makes the arguments of innovation in storytelling and agenda setting even more important. And more dangerous. As Alex Wake, our guest on 2SER this morning put it, it’s a threat to democracy (democracy in choice of media that is).

Trust in journalism is getting more scarce by the day. Conflicting interests in business, journalism values and trying to create human interest without sounding biased are all adding fuel to the fire. Some say we are now living in a post-truth world, and others (like this video) say that journalism is now officially a failed profession and that we should all just back out from listening to anything they have to say:

Gay Talese: Is Journalism a Failed Profession?

Here’s my two cents on why trust in journalism is not dead – but rather continues to have its meaning evolve as history continues to evolve.

  • The paid subscriber movement is very difficult to gauge its success because there are people who will willingly pay for news but then we see issues with oligopolies in the media – where the money rules and the truth becomes extinct. And yet- organisations need money to run and to pay the people who they employ. At this level, the paid subscriber movement is important if we don’t want advertisements and bigger commercial interests to start to become the influence.
  • Journalism which is supposedly “untruthful” and worth “giving up on” is a harsh and needless comment to make about a very difficult but necessary profession. Robots cannot humanise a story or create engagement in the ways that current journalists can. Technology is a necessity if we want to make a story interactive and better. However, to make an entire industry “readable and believable again” is a cruel comment. 
  • HAVING SAID THIS, the super brands of journalism (e.g. Fairfax, Murdoch Press etc.) must not believe their journalism is invincible or that their own brand of news will always be in their own bubble. The news has been challenged by the development of interactivity and innovation. The new conversation is just beginning – and unlike in the past, it starts with you.

So let’s start a new conversation – about the renewal of journalism. The NYT is very welcome in Australia – if it’s going to add positive impact to the Australian media landscape. I’m excited personally. I don’t think it’s a threat to media democracy – but it does have to know that we the readers will verify your work as much as the editors or the memo writers.

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