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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM II THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM DECEMBER 2010


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Contents Foreword: Christopher Warren

3

Introduction

4

1.

5

Rising from the ashes

The Media Alliance thanks:

1.1

Newspaper circulation

6

Greg Barila Renee Barnes Sophie Black Tim Burrowes Jonathan Green David Higgins Sean Hogben Glenda Kwek Peter Lewis Fiona Martin Ross McCaul David McKnight Penny O’Donnell Julie Posetti Mark Scott Margaret Simons Ricky Sutton James Turner Claire Wardle ANZ Bank Australian Broadcasting Corporation Essential Media Communications Copyright Agency Limited Guardian News and Media The World Association of Newspapers Goldman Sachs JBWere PricewaterhouseCoopers Fairfax Photos

1.2

Advertising revenue flowing into the news media

9

1.3

Page count analysis

12

1.4

Company round-up

13

2.

Our changing jobs

18

Researched and written by Jonathan Este, Christopher Warren, Flynn Murphy

2.1

Morale

18

2.2

Workload, hours and work-life balance

19

2.3

Pay

19

2.4

Quality of work/output

21

2.5

Training

22

3.

Our audience – and what they think of us

25

3.1

A public good

25

3.2

Where do people get their news from?

26

3.3

What sort of news are people interested in?

27

3.4

Why do people want news?

28

3.5

How do people feel about the way the media covers news?

29

3.6

Who do they trust to tell them the news?

30

3.7

Are individual journalists important to people?

31

3.8

Will Australians pay for news online?

32

4.

Online tools, toys and techniques

34

4.1

New ways of finding stories

35

4.2

New ways of telling stories

38

4.3

New ways of finding audiences

43

4.4

Getting audiences involved

45

5.

The way forward

48

5.1

After the fall of Rome – a new republic of news?

48

5.2

What can the commercial news media do?

49

Design by: Luke Gover, Gadfly Media Approved by: Christopher Warren Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance 245 Chalmers Street Redfern NSW 2016 Cover: The Sydney Morning Herald newsroom, election night 1970, top. ABC 24-hour news control room, below

5.3

What can journalists do?

51

5.4

What can government do?

52

5.5

What can media unions do?

56

References

2

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Foreword: Christopher Warren For many of us, 2010 brought with it a degree of optimism that the “carnage” that had been forecast for the business of journalism has abated somewhat. Analysts revised their gloomy predictions, while media companies have begun tentatively to roll out projects that are not related solely to the grim battle for survival. The past two years have been tough for journalism and journalists. Since the Media Alliance published our previous future of journalism report: Life in the Clickstream, in November 2008, we’ve seen the impact of the digital revolution on the working lives of all working journalists. Mainstream newspaper companies such as Fairfax Media and News Ltd laid off large numbers of staff. The Alliance estimates that more than 700 journalists no longer have full-time employment. Those that remained found their work intensifying. Morale was shaky wherever you looked. But there are now some positive indicators. The continuing development of news formatted for mobile phones and the new tablet format demonstrate that consumers are willing to pay for news on some platforms. News Ltd tested the market by rolling out a basic app for The Australian. Having presumably found the response promising, the company has recently rolled out apps for its main metro newspapers. Fairfax appears to be preparing to follow suit. A recent structural reorganisation appears designed to prepare the way for delivery of its main mastheads via mobile and tablet platforms. But to focus exclusively on business models is to miss the main point: obsessing about whether or not paywalls will work, or whether cornering various lucrative, but narrow, niches such as legal affairs or higher education will replace lost revenue ignores the most important question our industry is facing. How can we ensure that journalism’s core functions will be maintained: holding the powerful accountable for their actions, providing a voice for those who otherwise have no power and ensuring that our political servants fulfil the pledges they make to us when we elect them to office? These are the key jobs that journalism performs. If those jobs can no longer be performed, Australian democracy is in trouble. In many other countries they recognise this threat. Both the US and UK have debated the future of journalism in their legislatures, France introduced subsidies to support newspapers, Germany is looking at ways to strengthen copyright protection. There is also talk in the US and elsewhere of affording newspapers the status of non-profit organisations for tax purposes, or exempting newspapers from GST or other value-added indirect taxes. These are debates we need to be having here in Australia. This report tries to kickstart this discussion. But at the same time we also need to be sharing our ideas about what the news industry can be doing to renew ourselves – how we can take advantage of the new tools and technology to do our jobs better. Innovation and the willingness to experiment, not just with revenue models but with ideas and techniques for better newsgathering and storytelling, will be at the heart of this renewal. Already we are seeing some of these ideas take flight. As individual journalists we owe it to ourselves and our craft to keep informed of the best work being done by our colleagues, here and overseas. We owe it to ourselves and our craft to equip ourselves with the necessary building blocks to master the new architecture of news and information. Christopher Warren is federal secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

Christopher Warren Federal secretary Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Introduction In March 2010, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released its landmark report, The Evolution of News and the Internet, with the compelling message: “The economic foundations of journalism have to be rethought.” The OECD report nailed the essential conundrum at the heart of the news business in 2010 – while it “has never been easier, quicker and cheaper to access news … currently few of the online distribution models are generating significant revenues and those which do are often not directly linked to the newspaper industry.”1 Since the Media Alliance released its first report, Life in the Clickstream, in November 2008, the pace of change in the Australian news industry has quickened. The years 2008 and 2009 were characterised by job losses at the major newspaper and magazine houses – between them Fairfax Media, News Ltd, West Australian Newspapers, APN and ACP shed about 700 jobs, rationalised many of their production roles into centralised – at times outsourced – production “hubs” and shared more copy. The past 18 months has also been a period of digital experimentation and expansion – most major news companies have extended their slate of offerings to include new online ventures. That they have done this while rationalising their print staff hints at a gradual transformation of the workforce in newsrooms. A report released in April by the International Federation of Journalists highlights this contradiction at the heart of most commercial news models. “New technologies have opened up fantastic possibilities to gather, compare and draw conclusions from huge amounts of information (...); however journalists are frustrated by the way in which some media companies are denying them sufficient resources to take full advantage of the changes.”2 The report identified ways to develop new forms of journalism such as collaborative journalism, “augmented reality” journalism, more investigation and more immersion in the subject of the reports. “But this development of journalism as a public good needs time, adequate training, resources and commitment to the values of journalism as a public good,” says IFJ general secretary Aidan White. “Our employers have a blinkered view. They see only the need for profit. They sacrifice quality, they cut jobs and working conditions, they deny journalists the right to form unions. This lack of vision and commitment to the future is profoundly destructive.” In order to prepare the second in our Life in the Clickstream series, the Media Alliance commissioned Essential Media to conduct two surveys. One was a public poll of attitudes towards journalism in Australia and examined how and why people access news, their levels of trust in various platforms and their willingness to pay for news content online. The other survey was of journalist members of the Media Alliance and asked about working conditions, pay, levels of training and morale. The results are comprehensively covered in chapters 2 and 3 of this report. Also included in these sections are preliminary results of a larger research project being undertaken by the Walkley Foundation in partnership with the University of Sydney and the University of NSW. The project, which is backed by funding from the Australian Research Council, will involve interviews with 100 of Australia’s most senior journalists who have given their in-depth, personal views on how quality journalism will need to adapt to survive the digital revolution. The full results of that project will be published next year. If the first volume of Life in the Clickstream was a call to arms, alerting the Australian news industry to the scale and pace of change, the second aims to discuss journalism as a continuing public good and necessary building block for democracy and good governance, and explore some possible future directions to ensure that these vital functions of journalism are Phishing expedition: Australian audiences can now get their news from a seemingly endless array of sources Image by Peter Riches/AFR preserved and enhanced.

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Chapter 1: Rising from the ashes Has Australia weathered the “perfect storm”? When the Media Alliance published Life in the Clickstream (November 2008) it was widely anticipated that journalism in developed countries was set for a period of turmoil, accompanied by increasingly fragmented audiences, falling revenues and widespread lay-offs of journalists. Many industry analysts professed uncertainty about the future viability of news organisations, considering that the traditional advertising-based business model that has underpinned journalism had begun to come apart. Uncertainty in Australia was largely prompted by downturns in the US and UK where news organisations have suffered badly over the past few years. Figure 1, from a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), shows how newspaper markets in developed countries have contracted over recent years.

Turmoil in the US The US newspaper market was hit particularly hard, declining by 30 per cent between 2007 and 2009. According to the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), 166 US newspapers have either closed down or stopped publishing a printed edition since 2008.3 According to Paper Cuts, a US site which tracks newspaper layoffs and buyouts, there have been nearly 35,000 job losses or buyouts in the US newspaper industry since March 2007.4 State of the US News Media 2010, a report released in March by the Pew Foundation as part of its Project for Excellence in Journalism, says US newspaper advertising revenue fell by 29 per cent in 2009, while local television saw a 22 per cent drop in 2009 – triple the decline of the year before.5 The Pew report found other media didn’t fare much better. Radio was down by 22 per cent; magazines 17 per cent; network television 8 per cent and even online advertising revenue was down by about 5 per cent. Nearly half of the 37 publicly traded media companies for which there are current data lost money in 2009.6 Cable news was the one sector that didn’t lose significant money in the US last year as news companies reported spending an estimated US$1.6 billion less on reporting and editing than they did 10 years ago.7

Depression in UK press In the UK things were almost as bad, especially in the newspaper market. According to the latest published circulation figures, sales at the quality end of the UK national newspaper market continued to tumble in the September quarter: The Times was down 14.35 per cent year on year, the Daily Telegraph dropped 17.33 per cent and The Guardian also dropped 12.61 per cent. The Independent, which was sold last year for £1 to former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev, was down by 2.89 per cent, the Daily Express by 8.94 per cent and the Daily Mirror by 6.12 per cent. One of the few bright spots in the UK popular newspaper market was the Daily Mail, where year-on-year circulation fell only 0.09 per cent.

Dark clouds in New Zealand Like other markets in the developed world, New Zealand faces disruption from the internet and fragmentation of audiences. As in Australia, this has led in recent years to falling newspaper circulations and declining revenues to media organisations. Public broadcaster TVNZ was marred by job cuts and a shrinking budget, though newspapers have suffered less in terms of circulation, even when population growth is factored in. Meanwhile the shift of advertising dollars away from what has come to be known almost patronisingly as “legacy media” continues apace. According to the chair of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in New Zealand, Liz Fraser, online is officially the fifth largest recipient of advertising revenue, “but we believe online has already overtaken magazines and radio. If online ad spend continues on its current trend we predict it will be the number one medium within the next five to ten years.”8 Quality is also a major issue for New Zealand journalists. There have been reports that since the widespread introduction of centralised “subbing hubs” to replace the employment of dedicated sub-editors on each masthead, the amount of work each sub-editor is required to do each day has more than doubled.9 You can find a discussion of subbing centralisation in chapter 2.

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Decline in size of newspaper market

Figure 1: Estimated newspaper publishing market decline in OECD countries, 2007-2009 (in per cent) Source: OECD calculations based on data of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Figure 2: Circulation, September quarter 2010, Australian metropolitan and national mastheads Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations, Australia

6

Australia - the lucky country? As demonstrated by Figure 1, Australia has emerged relatively unscathed from these two years of turmoil. In New Zealand, the market has shrunk by an estimated 13 per cent. However after two years of negative growth, a tentative recovery in ad spend is expected from 2010 onwards. Analysts are recovering their positive outlook towards the media sector. The Outlook report released in July by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that, overall, total Australian entertainment and media spending grew by 1.1 per cent compared with a global shrinkage of 1.8 per cent. Total advertising spend in the sector is expected to grow by 5.3 per cent a year between now and 2014.10

1.1 Newspaper circulation As this report was going to print, the Audit Bureau of Circulations released its audit for the September quarter, 2010, which found that paid sales of national and major metropolitan newspapers had fallen by an average of 2.9 per cent yearon-year. This largely confirms the broad downward trend that has characterised Australia’s newspaper market over the past two to three years. As illustrated by the table at left, the only bright spots were the Saturday edition of Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, which increased its circulation over 12 months to September by 1.9 per cent. The Australian also gained 1.62 per cent. All other national and major metropolitan mastheads lost ground in the survey period. Notwithstanding recent circulation falls, it has become something of an article of faith among newspaper publishers that unlike in comparable developed economies, Australian newspaper circulation has held up remarkably well, thus indicating that our market is more resilient than others. Figure 3, a graph of Australia’s newspaper circulation over the past 20 years, seems to show that the kind of dramatic decline which has occurred in many other countries is yet to hit Australia. But when these numbers are adjusted to reflect newspaper penetration of Australia’s growing population, a different picture emerges.


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Whereas just over 16 per cent said they bought newspapers back in 1990, these days this figure has fallen to just over 10 per cent of the population (see Figure 4). When it comes to readership, 38 per cent of respondents to our own survey said they read a newspaper daily. This is borne out in chapter 3, where we discuss the audience’s reading habits. Analysis based on published circulation and readership figures by media commentator Margaret Simons in 2008 suggested that readership varies between 2.5 and 5 times circulation.11 There is more work to be done in this area, particularly studying circulation and readership across generations.

Average sales of newspapers in Australia per day

Circulation in New Zealand Depending who you read, newspapers in New Zealand are either losing readers hand over fist, or holding up extremely well under pressure. According to the NZ Audit Bureau of Circulations, New Zealand’s larger newspapers (those with a circulation larger than 25,000) lost about 2.7 per cent of paid sales between June 2009 and June 2010. Attrition at the main Sunday papers was more marked at 5.9 per cent over the same period. However the president of the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, Michael Muir, delivered an upbeat assessment, telling the NZ Herald: “Our circulations and readerships are largely stable, advertising is picking up again and we are on the verge of exciting new media developments.” Indeed, the stats seem to show that while there has been a slight drop-off, there is not the kind of drastic circulation drop seen in the US and UK. Last month a survey by Nielsen found that total readership of the NZ Herald had risen to 764,000 – boosted by a 31 per cent year-onyear increase in the newspaper’s online audience. Martin Simons, the chief executive of APN's New Zealand media business, said that the Herald’s iPad app had been downloaded by 24,000 people since it was launched in June. Figure 5 shows that while circulation rates of daily metropolitan newspapers in New Zealand have fallen, regional circulations remain reasonably resilient. However when population growth is factored in we can see a significant decline in newspaper penetration (Figure 6).

Figure 3: Newspaper circulation, Australia, 1991-2010. Source: Audit Bureau of Circulation. Figures from 31/09/1991 based on six monthly audits, while figures from 31/03/2006 are based on 13-week audits. National/Metro figures represent daily newspaper sales averaged over a week, regional figures represent daily sales of regional newspapers averaged over 6 days

Average sales in Australia against population

Figure 4: Sales of national and metropolitan mastheads against population growth in Australia, 1991-2010 Source: Audit Bureau of Circulation, Australian Bureau of Statistics

Daily newspaper circulation in New Zealand

Figure 5: Sales of metropolitan and regional newspapers in New Zealand from 1999-2009 Source: New Zealand Audit Bureau

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Newspaper sales in New Zealand against population

Figure 6: NZ newspaper sales per 1000 people over the period 1999-2009. Source: New Zealand Audit Bureau

Generational change in newspaper readership Philip Meyer, a celebrated former editor – now Knight professor of journalism at the University of North Carolina – analysed newspaper readership figures in the US from 1972 to 2008 and found that for each passing generation, readership was declining (Figure 7).12 So while between 70 and 80 per cent of the “Greatest Generation” – those born prior to 1929, tended to read a newspaper each day, only 60-70 per cent of those born into the generation of “Hard Times” (between 1929 and 1945) were likely to read a newspaper each day. And so it went: between 40 and 50 per cent of Baby Boomers (born between the end of World War II and the so called ‘British Invasion’ marked by The Beatles tour of the US in 1964) read a daily newspaper; only 20-30 per cent of those born after 1964 did the same. Once the newspaper habit was formed, Meyer found, it remained reasonably constant until very old age. But the habit-forming impulse is disappearing with each generation.

Figure 7: Newspaper readership by generation, USA, 1972-2002. Source: The Vanishing Newspaper, Philip Meyer

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

1.2 Advertising revenue flowing into the news media In its latest advice to investors in the media sector, issued in July 2010, analysts Goldman Sachs JBWere (GSJBW) have continued their bullish overview of the advertising market which, according to their report, “is recovering faster and stronger than we expected”. GSJBW forecasts overall growth in the ad market of 1.9 per cent for the 2010 financial year, fuelled by growth of 12.6 per cent in the second half, which they say has been the strongest half-year growth in more than two decades. However the growth is uneven across sectors. While pay TV and online advertising have performed very strongly, showing growth of 14.2 per cent for FY2010, advertising revenue into other media is still sluggish at -0.8 per cent. But GSJBW says the ad market recovery will be underpinned by strong growth in consumption over 2010 and 2011 (see Figure 8).

GSJBW Media Research – Australia Ad Spend Forecast (Percentage Change, Year-On-Year) Year to 30 June

act FY08

act FY09

est FY10

est FY11

est FY12

est FY13

Newspapers

5.90%

-9.20%

-4.40%

5.50%

3.30%

3.00%

Magazines

3.90%

-4.70%

-13.60%

3.50%

3.50%

3.20%

Free-to-air TV

5.10%

-7.40%

5.20%

10.00%

7.40%

6.40%

Pay TV

27.90%

5.60%

13.50%

13.80%

10.00%

10.00%

Online

27.00%

18.50%

14.30%

22.10%

15.00%

13.70%

5.80%

-4.00%

2.40%

6.00%

6.00%

6.00%

18.20%

-9.00%

3.00%

12.40%

10.00%

8.70%

Radio Outdoor Cinema

8.20%

0.10%

-2.10%

6.00%

6.00%

6.00%

Total Australian advertising

8.70%

-4.10%

1.90%

10.10%

7.40%

6.90%

Traditional media excluding online, pay TV

6.00%

-7.70%

-0.80%

7.40%

5.40%

4.90%

New media (online, pay TV)

27.20%

16.40%

14.20%

20.90%

14.30%

13.20%

Total Australian advertising

8.70%

-4.10%

1.90%

10.10%

7.40%

6.90%

Figure 8: Australian media advertising spend forecasts 2008-2013. Source: GSJBW: Domestic media sector report, July 2010

All of this has come off the back of two very poor years for news organisations, which have suffered large declines in the volume of advertising revenue flowing in to all sectors except online.

Endless inventory makes online advertising a hard sell Tim Burrowes The biggest barrier to making advertising-supported online journalism pay is the way that those ads are bought and sold. In newspapers, advertising is still sold based on a great deal of faith. A headline figure of how many copies of the paper is sold is multiplied by a magic number (perhaps two) to define how many readers the newspapers has in total after a copy has been passed on from the person who bought it. The advertising conversation that follows works broadly on the assumption that every one of those readers will see the ad and the ratecard is set accordingly. Of course, most people don’t open every page, and certainly don’t see every ad. But newspapers can still generally get away with charging for print advertising as if

they do. Not so online – the most common sales conversation is around the cpm – or cost per 1000 views. While there’s still no guarantee the ad will be seen, the charge is closer to reality. It costs far less to reach an online reader than a print reader. And, if the publisher can attract enough online readers, then all should surely be well. The problem then though is one of supply and demand. Online inventory has massively grown, driving down the price. Online ad networks have sprung up, aggregating huge numbers of cheap ad impressions that they can sell on to advertisers at low prices. Whereas publishers might have charged a $50cpm, many will now be lucky to get $1. The problem is that for an advertiser who is not too fussed about who they

reach, there is always a cheaper place to find an ad. It means that those publishers who stick to their guns on price probably won’t find paying advertisers against all of their ad impressions. If it was otherwise, then the paywall conversation would never have happened. If there is to be a way forward for advertising supported online journalism, it becomes about the quality of the sales message – can the advertiser be persuaded that they will get better value by reaching a specific, targeted, loyal reader who might stay longer on the page, even if they have to pay more than ten times as much to do so? That’s a tough sell. Tim Burrowes is the founding editor of media and marketing site, mUmBRELLA

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Advertising expenditure in print media 2000–2009

Figure 9: Advertising expenditure in print media 2000-2009 Source: CEASA

Print media

Figure 9, which is based on data kindly supplied by the Commercial Economic Advisory Service of Australia (CEASA), illustrates the extent to which advertising revenue to the various print media sectors dropped off over the past year. Indexed to 2000 dollars, it becomes clear that metropolitan daily newspapers have suffered the worst of the downturn in advertising revenue, which in 2009 fell below its 2000 level. In absolute dollar terms, it is clear from Figure 9 that the total advertising revenue to metro dailies weakened considerably last year, falling by 18.7 per cent or nearly $350 million dollars. However most analysts, including GSJBW, PwC and Credit Suisse (in a sector review released March 2010)13 now believe the market has bottomed and that Australian news organisations can look forward to increased advertising revenue. PricewaterhouseCoopers expects the Australian newspaper advertising market to show compound annual growth of 2.8 per cent a year to 2014, and magazines to net 2.4 per cent a year over the same period.

Television Australian free-to-air television (FTA) continues to enjoy a 99 per cent home penetration rate.14 While FTA advertising declined 7.6 per cent in the 2009 calendar year according to PwC it has recovered quicker than anticipated. PricewaterhouseCoopers anticipates that free-to-air TV will see 3.9 per cent per annum growth in advertising and licence fees over the next five years. But Credit Suisse (CS) predicts commercial audiences will continue to decline, owing to increased competition from pay TV, which it predicts will eclipse FTA in audience share by the 2012 financial year. The Australian pay TV industry remained relatively strong through the global financial crisis. According to OzTAM, the household penetration of digital television increased by 40 per cent over 2009, but with five new digital channels launched last year, and 11 free-toair channels in the Australian market, CS predicts the existing audience will be cannibalised.

Radio A Credit Suisse (CS) media sector review published March 2010 holds that the Australian radio industry has proved resilient during last year’s media advertising downturn. Metro radio advertising revenues declined 2.7 per cent in the 2009 calendar year, much less than the total Australian advertising decline figure of 8.3 per cent for 2009. (It should be noted that this total decline figure includes outdoor and transport advertising, which performed poorly, dropping 11.9 per cent on the previous year). However, when this figure is adjusted to include regional and rural radio, we see an overall radio advertising decline of 5.6 per cent.15 Advertising revenue to commercial radio is forecast by PwC to grow by 1.7 per cent a year to 2014. CS predicts that radio’s resilience will lead to a more modest recovery, forecasting 2010 advertising growth in the sector at a more modest 1.5 per cent, lower than their projections of growth in metro TV and pay television, online advertising and newspaper advertising (5 per cent, 12.5 per cent and 2 per cent respectively). The way audiences consume radio programming has been changed by the web and now-ubiquitous podcasting, as well as last July’s introduction of digital radio in mainland capital cities, but according to Credit Suisse the number of Australian radio listeners has increased at a rate slightly above population growth, and more than 96 per cent of the population of Australia’s capital cities listen to radio at some point during their week.

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Online Meanwhile online is widely forecast to trump all other media sectors, with PwC predicting strong growth of 15.4 per cent per year to 2014, although off a relatively low base. The same analyst predicts that mobile internet advertising, buoyed by the rapid development of smartphones and tablet computers, will grow at a compound average of 73 per cent per year to 2014.16 Online advertising revenue still represents only a small proportion of the total advertising revenue flowing into the media (see Figure 10), but for newspapers, digital advertising is becoming an increasingly valuable component of their revenue mix, exhibiting compound annual growth of 13.5 per cent to 2014 to represent 10.9 per cent of all advertising revenue flowing into newspapers.

Australian advertising market by sector

Figure 10: The advertising market by sector, 2000–2009 Source: CEASA

The revenue question – circulation or subscription? Jonathan Este A maelstrom of comment followed News Corp’s announcement in November 2010 that 105,000 people had made some manner of “digital purchase” of either The Times or the Sunday Times, both of which went behind an online paywall in July. There was a deal of confusion over the numbers. Was it the total online subscriber base for the two newspapers? Many analysts thought not: in a post on his blog, Clay Shirky estimated that the actual number of users was around 50,000 and included all those signing up for iPad or Kindle apps for the two papers.17 He also estimated that traffic to the two news sites had fallen by 97 per cent and further asserted that the papers had become “the online newsletter of the Tories, the UK’s conservative political party, read much less widely than its paper counterpart”. News stories in The Times or the Sunday Times, he wrote, rarely circulate via Facebook or Twitter as the links lead to the paywall barrier. Emily Bell, in her Bellwether blog, went further – asserting that the paywall had destroyed the two papers’ key role as newspapers of influence: “The moment the numbers mattered enough for News

International to erect a paywall around its digital reach was, in many ways, the moment The Times officially lost its key purpose for the company… The Times is arguably no longer that key driver of influence. It is supplanted by the Financial Times and maybe even the Wall Street Journal (Murdoch’s new favourite influencer) within the UK.”18 The question of whether, and how, to erect a paywall on news sites remains the single most debated question for newspaper groups around the world. Rupert Murdoch has made his position clear over the past two years in words and deed. “Quality content is not free,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal last year. “In the future, good journalism will depend on the ability of a news organisation to attract customers by providing news and information they are willing to pay for. The old business model based mainly on advertising is dead. Let’s face it: A business model that relies primarily on online advertising cannot sustain newspapers over the long term.”19 However, in an era of fast-growing digital advertising revenues in the sector, it is debatable whether shutting your content off behind a paywall is the right

way to go, rather than concentrating on growing the readership. The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper recently reported a 46 per cent surge in its digital advertising revenue compared to total ad revenue growth of 13 per cent. The masthead recently broke the 40 million barrier for monthly unique hits, a yearon-year growth of 72 per cent with its mix of hard news, celebrity journalism and populist opinion. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger had this to say in his January Hugh Cudlipp lecture: “If you universally make people pay for your content it follows that you are no longer open to the rest of the world, except at a cost. That might be the right direction in business terms, while simultaneously reducing access and influence in editorial terms.”20 There is no easy answer, and it is possible news organisations will need to adopt a hybrid of interlocking revenue strategies that include paid-for niche content in specialist areas, e-commerce, “members’ clubs” (a la Swedish masthead Aftonbladet21) and growing revenue from digital advertising. Jonathan Este is director of communications at the Media Alliance

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

1.3 Page count analysis After two years of “vanishing newspapers”, where page counts fell across the board in response to the global financial crisis and the accompanying fall in the flow of advertising revenues to the print media, there is some evidence that Australia’s metropolitan dailies are back into a tentative growth pattern. CBA Equities conducts a survey of page counts across selected newspapers in Australia and New Zealand, which focuses on the number of pages for classifieds (ie: motors, property and employment) and “other pages” which is taken as a proxy for display advertising (see Figure 11). The CBA sample comprises The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald , the Australian Financial Review and the West Australian, and in New Zealand, The Press, The Dominion Post and The New Zealand Herald. Overall the CBA analysis suggests that the momentum of growth in page numbers has slowed in the first quarter of FY2011 after strong growth through FY2010, but page numbers continue to grow, albeit at a slightly slower rate. CBA says the key driver in recent months has been property, which grew in September 2010 at the SMH by 22 per cent on a year-on-year basis. At the West Australian, property and employment are showing strong growth. In New Zealand, page volumes at The Press and the NZ Herald are down by 9 per cent each – in September, The Press underwent a redesign from eight sections to seven, and the falling number of pages may well reflect this change. This tallies with the findings of the Page counts volumes: year-on-year, percentage change ANZ Bank’s job advertisements data series which has found that, while there has been a steady growth in the June Dominion West The NZ SMH Y/E AFR Age Post Australian Press Herald number of job advertisements in newspapers and online, that growth 1Q09 -5% -5% -13% -8% -12% -20% -14% has tailed off this year. 2Q09 -10% -3% -12% -13% -10% -22% -16% However the ANZ series highlights 3Q09 -22% -18% -27% -25% -21% -30% -25% the digital divide in job advertising. While the number of jobs being 4Q09 -22% -21% -20% -27% -20% -26% -12% advertised on the internet has grown 1Q10 -14% -18% -18% -24% -8% -19% 5% strongly and has shown only a minor 2Q10 -3% -11% -15% -11% -7% -14% -2% fall in October 2010, the number of 3Q10 13% 0% 2% -3% -2% -1% 1% jobs being advertised in newspapers has fallen steadily for five consecutive 4Q10 18% 9% 5% 4% 2% 0% -2% months. FY11 YTD

9%

5%

1%

3%

9%

1%

Figure 11: Year-on-year page counts Source: Commonwealth Bank of Australia/Newspapers

Figure 12: Annual change in newspaper, internet and total job advertisements, percentage change from 12 months earlier Source: ANZ job advertisements series, November 2010

12

9%


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Serious business: media companies are building new growth strategies after two years of attrition Image by Glenn Hunt / AFR

1.4 Company round-up Media analyst, Goldman Sachs JBWere has fixed on strong growth in advertising revenue and positive forecasts for consumption and earnings over the next 12 months to generally revise its assessment of Australia’s media stocks upwards. Lead analyst, Christian Guerra, warns that some media sectors will recover quicker than others: online, out-of-home and metropolitan free-to-air TV are predicted to be the sectors that will recover the fastest, while magazines, regional and metro newspapers and radio will be “laggards”, Guerra says. Based on an analysis of the past two ad-market recessions, in 1991-92 and 2001-02, the recession in ad revenue should last about two years, but will begin to show some growth in all sectors by the financial year ending June 2011.

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

News Corp (NWS)

At a glance

Net profit

$2,547.4m

Market capitalisation

$43,435m

Sales

$32,612m

EBITDA

$5,699m

Net debt

$7,317m

Enterprise value

41,449m

Source: GSJBW

While its Australian and UK subsidiaries agonise over whether and what type of paywall to apply to their websites, in the US, News Corporation is preparing to launch the first daily newspaper designed solely for consumption on a tablet. According to a report in the New York Times, The Daily will involve a staff of 100 people and an annual budget of US$30 million.22 The project will bring together some content from other arms of News Corp – Fox Sports will provide some video, for example. But the plan is that the majority of content on The Daily will be original. In Australia, News Ltd recently released iPad applications for its four metropolitan mastheads, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Adelaide’s The Advertiser and Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail. Meanwhile News Ltd strategists are also continuing to discuss the prospect of bringing in a paywall for its newspaper websites, especially The Australian, which sources have said will charge on a “freemium” model, rather than for the whole website as the company does for its UK papers, The Times, Sunday Times and News of the World. Broker Merrill Lynch identifies improving advertising trends, increasing amounts of subscription revenue, especially in the subscription TV sector, and growing opportunities in broadcasting as driving News Corp growth. News Corp’s strategy for its news operations appears to be linked to paywalls for its news websites and subscription via paid applications. In the UK, this has taken the form of paywalls around most of its main mastheads, while in the US the paywall around The Wall Street Journal allows for a mix of free and paid content. In Australia, it appears that News Ltd will employ a “freemium” model which allows for free commoditised news promoting paid-for niche and specialty content.

Fairfax Media (FXJ)

At a glance

Net profit

$278.7m

Market capitalisation $3,457.4m Sales EBITDA

$2,477m $635m

Net debt

$1,600m

Enterprise value

$5,187m

Source: GSJBW

14

On November 23, management at Fairfax Media unveiled a major reorganisation to reflect the company’s belief that its best long-term strategy will be to monetise its content across a range of paid applications for smartphones and tablet computers. Fairfax CEO, Brian McCarthy told investors that the reorganisation aimed to more effectively integrate its editorial staff to produce content across all platforms and to better monetise that content. McCarthy told investors: “With upward of 50 apps currently in development, monetised content via mobile digital apps is the way of the future – and Fairfax intends to be right at the forefront of it.”23 Fairfax reported revenues up 4 per cent year-on-year for the first four months of FY11 and is anticipating high single digit growth in EBITDA. As part of its restructure announcement, Fairfax has indicated that its aim is to concentrate on digital delivery of its main print mastheads via smartphone and tablet platforms. Whether the company will seek to impose paywalls on its main mastheads is not yet clear.


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Australian Provincial Newspapers (APN) APN reports that a recovery in advertising markets has helped it stay on track to meet earnings forecasts for the year. APN issued a trading update in advance of its annual investor presentations which were held in Melbourne on 24 November and in Sydney on 26 November. The company says that Australia is performing well with national advertising in particular continuing to show strong growth. In New Zealand, advertising growth is returning as the economy continues to improve – though it’s somewhat less consistent than in Australia. Brokers are increasing their revenue estimates for APN to reflect strong momentum in outdoor advertising, but there tends to be more caution on publishing revenues in both Australia and New Zealand. APN has concentrated on reducing debt over the past two years. Outgoing CEO, Brendan Hopkins, announced recently that the company’s growth strategy would be to establish a “one-stop shop” environment, to allow advertisers to access all its newspaper, online digital, magazines, radio and billboard platforms, leveraging its ability to deliver localised content as an incentive.

At a glance

Net profit

$108.7m

Market capitalisation

$1,176m

Sales

$1,074m

EBITDA

$258m

Net debt

$657m

Enterprise value

$2,105m

Source: GSJBW

West Australian Newspapers (WAN) West Australian Newspapers Holdings Ltd (WAN) has performed strongly in 2010, prompting many media analysts to label the stock a “buy” option. In November 2010, the company reported a 2.6 per cent rise in first quarter net profit as advertising revenue increased. WAN posted a net profit of $23.5 million for the three months to September 30, up from $22.9 million in the previous corresponding period, while consolidated advertising revenue was up 7.3 per cent on the previous corresponding period to $76.8 million. WAN’s largest business, The West Australian newspaper, reported an increase in advertising volumes and margin. Morgan Stanley has warned that the decision of WAN to rebrand the Saturday edition of The West Australian as The Weekend West carries a small amount of risk that the move will prompt a competitive response from News Ltd, publisher of The Sunday Times. “Any such outbreak of competition between these two newspaper publishers would result in a sharp derating of WAN shares, in our view” the most recent brokers’ report from Morgan Stanley states. Kerry Stokes told investors in November that paid content for newspaper websites would not work while public broadcasters were providing the same information for free. He said he did not intend to roll out a paid strategy across the company's publications, as it would be unlikely to work without “very unique content”.

At a glance

Net profit Market capitalisation

$98.4m $1,380m

Sales

$416m

EBITDA

$172m

Net debt

$259m

Enterprise value

$1,601m

Source: GSJBW

Prime Media Group Ltd (PRT) At his inaugural address to shareholders at Prime’s annual general meeting in September 2010, incoming CEO Ian Audsley said it had been a challenging but rewarding year for Prime which was now poised for growth as the economic recovery continued. He said that various cost impositions had combined to drive down Prime TV’s earnings for the first half of the year but advertising revenue had rebounded strongly in the second half. Prime now broadcasts the full suite of Seven Network channels in its markets in northern and southern NSW and Victoria and would roll out the full suite of Seven channels in WA from next year, which would position the company for strong growth in its TV holdings. Radio was also performing strongly, he said. The company’s digital strategy was in place following its acquisition of iPrime in the first half of the year and work had begun on a series of content and sales strategies which would drive further growth in 2011. He told investors that the company will focus on a “content enrichment” strategy for iPrime, the company’s online arm, and the further integration of its TV and online platforms. The company presently operates 45 hyperlocal websites.

At a glance

Net profit

$22.8m

Market capitalisation

$259m

Sales

$270m

EBITDA

$64m

Net debt

$178m

Enterprise value

$430m

Source: GSJBW

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Seven Group Holdings

At a glance

Net profit Market capitalisation Sales EBITDA

$49.8m $1,771m $464m $19m

Net debt

N/A

Enterprise value

N/A

Source: GSJBW

Seven has upgraded its profits forecast by 15 per cent after a strong performance in both advertising revenue and earth moving (Seven merged with heavy machinery company Westrac earlier this year). The group owns 45 per cent of Seven Media Group (SMG) as well as stakes in West Australian Newspapers, James Packer’s pay-TV investment group Consolidated Media Holdings and regional broadcaster Prime Media. Seven’s share of SMG’s profits is forecast at $80m for 2010-11 including a $17m rebate from the cut to licence fees. While Seven is regularly named as a potential buyer of media assets, chairman Kerry Stokes has stated he would be more inclined to build on existing investments. “We’d probably look more at investing in the assets we have because we are very pleased with them,” he said. The Seven Network expanded through the launch of two digital channels in 2010: 7Mate and One. The launch of 7HD in 2011 is expected to provide another growing income stream. Seven’s magazine arm, Pacific Magazines, owns just under 30 per cent of all magazines published in Australia. Magazines have underperformed the rest of the media sector in 2010. In its annual report, Seven said it planned to build on its content creation and delivery capabilities with multiple applications across an array of delivery platforms, including freeto-air and digital TV, online, mobile and tablet delivery mechanisms.

Network Ten (TEN)

At a glance

Net profit

$113.3m

Market capitalisation

$1,641m

Sales

$1,002m

EBITDA

$219m

Net debt

$323m

Enterprise value

$1,1961m

Source: GSJBW

The big news surrounding the Ten Network has been the sudden acquisition of 18 per cent of the share register by James Packer’s Consolidated Media Holdings in November (half of which has been onsold to Lachlan Murdoch – the pair have each won board seats as a result of the investment). As this report went to print, it was announced that Perth investor Gina Rinehart had also bought a 10 per cent block of Ten shares. As the investors moved to take major positions in the company, Ten had just announced its plans to considerably expand the company’s commitment to journalism by adding an extra hour of news to its nightly offering. This was in response to a significant loss of audience for the key 6-7pm slot, particularly in the core 16-49 demographic. It has been reported that Ten planned to respond to this loss of audience share by significantly boosting its news profile, launching a two-and-a-half-hour current affairs block. The network is reported to have hired more than 50 journalists, including George Negus and Chris Masters. However it has also been reported that Packer is critical of this move and favours instead a low-cost strategy for the network. The new shareholders are also reported to have forced the resignation of board chairman Nick Falloon.

Austereo (AEO) At a glance

Net profit

$47.1m

Market capitalisation

$547m

Sales

$262m

EBITDA

$89m

Net debt

$208m

Enterprise value

$746m

Source: GSJBW

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In the most recent survey, Austereo cemented its position as Australia’s leading FM radio broadcaster and also claimed the title of being Australian’s number one radio website. AEO’s ad revenue for the first quarter of FY2011 was up 16 per cent compared to 12 per cent for the radio market as a whole. This is largely due to a strong performance by Triple M, according to a broker’s report from The Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS forecasts that AEO’s ad revenue is likely to increase by 8 per cent in FY11, slightly ahead of the market as a whole. In its annual report, Austereo said it was well-positioned to increase its revenue from its online offerings having rolled out a suite of mobile streaming applications and m-sites. The iPhone app was downloaded 200,000 times since its launch in July, the report said. The company stresses the synergies between radio and online platforms and plans to focus on revenue opportunities in this area.


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

PBL Media (Nine Network, ACP) PBL Media, which is 99 per cent owned by private equity firm CVC, owns the Nine Network and ACP Magazines (which together contribute 95 per cent of the company’s earnings), as well as NBN television, a holding in carsales.com.au and a 50 per cent interest in ninemsn (with Microsoft). The return of former Microsoft executive, Daniel Petre, to the PBL board and reports of a joint-venture deal with US video streaming group Hulu are widely seen as signs that PBL is bolstering its digital credentials in anticipation of a $5 billion sharemarket float next year. A joint-venture with Hulu would bring PBL a share of the estimated US$240m revenue Hulu derives from streaming ad-supported TV shows to the internet. A report in The Australian this month said the odds on a float in the first half of 2011 appear to be shortening, given the pace of change inside the business. PBL’s banks were told in a briefing in November that the company was on track to post record earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of more than $570m for 2010-11.24 Analysts report that the elevation of the Nine Network boss, David Gyngell, to overall control of PBL will also boost ACP, the company’s magazine arm. Gyngell has installed Phil Scott as group publishing director and the company has “locked and loaded the biggest marketing campaign ACP’s seen for a long time,” Gyngell told The Australian. The decision of whether to float PBL in the new year will be critical to the health of the group. The Alliance has been critical of private equity ownership of the news media, as it has all too often led to short-termism aimed at maximising revenue to the detriment of the long-term health of the organisation. The key for PBL will be to invest in content creation and delivery to ensure it can compete in an increasingly aggressive market.

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Chapter 2: Our changing jobs If the digital revolution in the media can be said to be, in the words of ABC managing director Mark Scott, a “perfect storm” then it is journalists who have been at the eye of that storm, struggling to maintain the quality of their work in increasingly difficult conditions. Broadly speaking, their employers are asking them to do more with less and, in many cases, to learn a whole new set of tools and techniques, while maintaining (or in most cases, increasing) their output. All the available evidence suggests that Australian journalists are embracing new ways of working with enthusiasm and skill. Earlier this year the Alliance surveyed its members in workplaces around the country about their jobs, their workplaces and their hopes for the future of the news industry. The survey was based on a similar survey carried out in October 2008 for the first in our Life in the Clickstream series. There were 1669 respondents – full-time, casual and freelance, ranging from editors and managers to reporters, production staff, digital and online staff, photographers and artists. More recently the Walkley Foundation, in partnership with the universities of Sydney and New South Wales, has conducted a series of in-depth face-to-face interviews with 100 senior journalists in all states and territories. The findings are reproduced and discussed in this chapter.

2.1 Morale The digital revolution remains both exciting and full of trepidation for people in the industry. Morale in big media companies has been hit by a series of redundancies which has seen more than 700 people lose their jobs in big newsrooms around the country since 2008. For newspaper production staff, the move by both News Ltd and Fairfax to consolidate sub-editing functions in centralised “hubs” has also hit morale by loosening the bonds between sub-editors and the sections (and in some cases, the mastheads) on which they work. How do you feel about your career prospects? However, there is a discernibly more optimistic air among journalists in 2010. The general feeling is that the days of wholesale job losses are over for the foreseeable future. Positive outcomes in negotiated workplace agreements at many of the major media houses have helped foster a more positive outlook in newsrooms, while freelance journalists have been heartened by the ACCC’s ruling which will allow them to bargain collectively for better rates through the Media Alliance. There is also a better general understanding of “what’s going on” than there was two years ago when the digital revolution Positive was seen by many as a leap into the unknown. Journalists are Negative Neutral becoming more comfortable with the new tools and technology being introduced in newsrooms and are quite excited at the prospects offered by the development of new Figure 13: How do you feel about your career prospects Source: Essential Media platforms such as the tablet. We asked journalists how they felt about their career prospects and 47 per cent said they were either “positive” or “very positive” while only 32 per cent said they were negative. How do you feel about the future of journalism? When asked about the future of journalism this air of optimism was even more pronounced, with 53 per cent answering that they felt either “positive” or “very positive” and only 23 per cent saying they felt “negative” (including just 3 per cent who felt “very negative”). When we asked a similar question in 2008 only 19 per cent were positive, 35 per cent negative, 39 per cent said they would just accept change and try to work within it and 6 per cent said the future was something they tried not to think about. The overwhelming message from Alliance members through the latest survey is that most journalists are increasingly aware of the possibilities presented by online and multimedia journalism. They are concerned at what they perceive as a lack of training which may not allow them to take full Figure 14 : How do you feel about the future of the industry Source: Essential Media advantage of those possibilities.

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Optimistic-Pessimistic – morale in the newsroom Senior journalists and editors were asked “do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the future of journalism?” Here is a selection of their answers: I’m optimistic about the potential to sell and disseminate the written word, writing. But I’m not optimistic about it being sold on pulped-up trees and distributed on trucks. I think that’s going to change rapidly. (Deputy editor) I’m a little bit pessimistic. I don’t see a lot of the creative thinking that [is needed] to drive that metamorphosis. I think people are looking at the business model. I think people are looking at how they restructure to keep the advertisers happy, but not the journalists happy. (Reporter)

The pessimism comes in because of the technology … no-one really knows how far it’s going to go. So, I think that makes a lot of people pessimistic. We wouldn’t have thought 10 years ago we would be where we are now. (Sub-editor) I think that increasingly the internet appears to be an opportunity rather than a competition and while folding bits of paper … might disappear within the foreseeable future, we’ll still be doing journalism, and we may even be doing more and better journalism and finding new and different ways of doing it. (Senior reporter) You’d be a Luddite to be against technological change, so I’m optimistic in

that sense. But I’m concerned, of course, about the celebrification of news… (Reporter) I’m optimistic about the future of journalism, and pessimistic about the future of newspapers. (Sports journalist) In some ways, I’m optimistic and in some ways, I’m pessimistic. I think there will always be a place for good quality journalism. But it is difficult to envisage how the industry will have to change… (Sub-editor) I feel optimistic generally … because there’s always a market for news and for telling people stuff that they don’t know or that they need to know and [which] wasn’t going to come out in any other fashion. (Investigative reporter)

2.2 Workload, hours and work-life balance During the past two years most of the major news organisations in Australia have shed staff as a result of the pressures covered in previous chapters. There are no accurate numbers available to allow us to assess the exact extent of the attrition that has taken place in newsrooms, but after the mass redundancies of April 2008, The Sydney Morning Herald employed 395 full-time equivalent staff (FTE). That figure has now fallen to 325 FTE. Applying this reduction across all major news organisations allows us to estimate that the number of full-time journalists working in newsrooms across Australia has fallen by about 700 since 2008. This attrition has occurred over a period during which news organisations have grappled with ways to expand their coverage to cater for the new demands of online news: continuous deadlines, the use of blogs, Twitter and other social media, slideshows, video, etc. Ideally this extra commitment would be matched by an increase in staff numbers, but this has not yet materialised. Our survey found that 74 per cent of respondents reported an increase in their workload over the past three years. Some 43 per cent said this had increased a lot, while 30 per cent said their workload had increased a little and 19 per cent said their workload had stayed much the same. Only 8 per cent said their workload had decreased. These are almost identical responses to our previous survey and are not unexpected for the reasons outlined above. Asked whether their work-life balance had improved or deteriorated, only 12 per cent said it had improved. Some 45 per cent reported no change while 42 per cent said their work-life balance had got worse. Again, this is very similar to the results elicited from our previous survey. One respondent commented: “There is a danger we will be expected to increase output by producing the same story across multiple platforms, but without increasing resources to match.”

Figure 15: Has your workload increased or decreased in the past five years? Source: Essential Media

2.3 Pay Asked whether they were compensated for the extra work and longer hours they were working, once again the majority (59 per cent) said they weren’t. Some 31 per cent said they were given time off in lieu of the extra hours worked, while 10 per cent said they had received extra remuneration to reflect an increased workload. This is very similar to the response to our previous survey. The number of people reporting increased pay has decreased slightly, from 14 per cent. One respondent commented: “The most important thing is getting management to understand that all these great ideas mean extra work, and that means extra staff, extra pay, or allowing us to claim time off in lieu. I think it's important they recognise the

19


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Figure 16: Are your being compensated for the extra workload in terms of extra pay or time off in lieu? Source: Essential Media

value of what we do.” Pay was seen as a priority for the Media Alliance: “We're all doing more, with less staff and fewer resources. Can the Alliance introduce these new skills to the J-scale so that it's easier to argue for pay increases?” wrote another journalist in the survey. Many argued that the development of cross-media skills deserved to be recognised and rewarded: “Photography/video should be separate skill sets attracting bonus pay,” wrote one reporter. “Technology has moved on so far since we negotiated a technology increase years ago,” was another comment which reflected the sentiment of many respondents working for mainstream media organisations. Freelancers were particularly concerned at static or falling word rates: “We have no guarantee as to when we will be paid for our work and payment rates can stay unchanged for years,” wrote one, while another commented: “Freelancers have to pay for all their own resources, training, super and yet organisations still insist on paying us a basic hourly rate yet still want work created at premium quality. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain high standards and receive ongoing work when costs are cut.”

Subbing hubs and centralisation Christopher Warren One of the characteristics of the Australian and New Zealand media over the past two years has been the consolidation of content creation and the increasing separation of journalists from the traditional masthead platform. This process is not universal and still has a long way to run, but it is increasingly common. It has been most marked on the subediting side. In some cases, the sub-editing function has been fully outsourced, usually to Pagemasters. This is a wholly owned subsidiary of AAP and began as a provider of completed details pages for such things as weather, TV guides, comics and games. They know have a virtual monopoly as a provider of these services within the Australian and New Zealand model. Pagemasters is now providing full outsourced sub-editing and section production services. For example, the APN papers in New Zealand, including the NZ Herald, were outsourced to a special purpose Pagemasters vehicle in Auckland in 2008. As part of their 2008 redundancy program, Fairfax outsourced the subbing and production of specific sections of both the SMH and The Age (such as My Career) to Pagemasters in Brisbane. Since then, both Fairfax and News Ltd have outsourced racing details to Pagemasters, ending what had previously been a significant marketing point of difference. In 2009, News Ltd announced the first of its internal sub-editing arrangements with News Central in Brisbane. This consolidated the subbing of the different

20

desks on the Courier-Mail, the Sunday Mail and the Quest community newspapers into a single subbing pool. In 2010, the company began incorporating the subbing of its Queensland regional papers into News Central, starting with the Gold Coast Bulletin. Brisbane was followed by Adelaide in February 2010 and incorporated the subbing of the Darwin paper into Adelaide in October 2010. The company has now announced plans for News Central arrangements in both Sydney and Melbourne, with each expected to start early in 2011. Similarly, APN formed a centralised subbing unit known as Centro in late 2008, with subbing of their 14 daily papers in NSW and Queensland being centralised on the Sunshine Coast and in 2009, Fairfax centralised the subbing of its New Zealand papers. Some other papers that have not either outsourced or created centralised units have, instead, centralised subbing inside their own paper. For example, The Australian replaced its separate desks (sport, business etc) with a single subbing desk. The impact of these changes on employment has been mixed. In some cases, there were marginal reductions. In others, casuals bore the brunt. In others, there was a transfer of jobs from one city to another or from one employer to another, often with a net reduction along the way. In all, the Alliance estimates that the combination of these processes across Australia and New Zealand has eliminated about 200 subbing jobs.

However, it is difficult to overestimate the impact this centralisation has had on the creative and integrated role of subbing in newspaper production. Effectively, it has split sub-editing from the masthead, undermined specialisation in subbing and intensified the workload of individual sub-editors. On the writing side, we are starting to see the pooling of content to run across multiple platforms, including traditional mastheads. For example, as part of its restructure announced on November 23, Fairfax said it would be creating a new national sections group which would be charged with coordinating content across all three metropolitan print and online mastheads. This included expected areas like travel, food and wine, cars and television. It was also extended to include business, traditionally an area of competing coverage. At the same time, News Ltd released plan for its new sports grouping, nicknamed the Sportal, bringing together its reporters, writers and photographers from across the group in a common editorial team providing shared content across its mastheads and digital platforms. This built on the earlier News Ltd national features initiative, which created comment supplements in areas like travel, food and wine and money for insert into each of their city-specific tabloid newspapers. Christopher Warren is federal secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

2.4 Quality of work/output Quality of work remains an important issue for journalists, as it does for their audiences. Some 50 per cent of respondents felt that the quality of news reporting and journalism was worse than it was five years ago, compared to 15 per cent who said it had improved. This tallies with broader international studies asking the same question. A widely quoted study by PR network Oriella: Blogs, Apps and Paywalls – How the digital world is Figure 17: Has the increased workload affected the changing the way journalists and publishers quality of your output? work, conducted a survey of journalists in Source: Essential Media Europe, the US and South America and found that 43 per cent felt that editorial quality had suffered as a result of a lack of resources. However this number had fallen Quality of journalism compared to 5 years ago from a previous survey in 2009 in which more than half of respondents felt that quality had declined. When asked about their own work, many journalists (45 per cent) felt that it had been harder to maintain quality given the increased workload they faced, while only 16 per cent said the quality of their work had improved and 39 per cent said it had remained about the same. Anecdotally, many journalists said the expectation that they would perform multiple roles across various platforms had affected the quality of their work. One respondent, working on a newspaper, commented that “the very definition of a ‘down-table sub’, who is now being expected to copy-taste, sub, crop and Figure 18: How do you rate the quality of Australian enhance photographs, rewrite agency copy, check-sub and ultimately take responsibility for a journalism compared with 5 years ago? production process that normally involves several professional journalists, including Source: Essential Media executives,” had threatened the quality of their output. “If we are all multi-taskers with ad-hoc skills, of course quality will decline,” wrote another, adding: “News organisations should be hiring highly trained video journos and photographers, in addition to print journalists.” Another complained of “a diminution of quality due to increased workloads and decreased staffing levels,” adding: “I'd love to know what ideas are out there to combat the effect of the diminishing bottom line and the tendency to staff vacancies with inexperienced people.” Interestingly, one respondent raised the point that a sound knowledge of – and adherence to – journalistic ethics was intimately bound up with the idea of journalistic quality and should be a hallmark of professional journalism. One journalist working on country newspapers was concerned that the workload had “become impossible … Quality journalism can not be achieved under current conditions – everything is a constant rush to turn papers out and 10-15 stories per day is not a good way to achieve quality journalism or product. New media is mostly ignored here…There’s no time for it without significant staff increases or at very least a photographer. I am the most experienced at this site with a grand total of three years (the editor has only one year’s experience, having moved from production). Impossible to help younger journalists, very little training and only so much I can do as I need help myself. Training, training, training.”

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LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

The future of quality journalism Penny O’Donnell and David McKnight The future of newspapers is as much about quality content as the business model. This is one of the clear messages emerging from a major national research project, titled “From rivers of gold to the clickstream: Newspapers and quality journalism in the Internet age”, sponsored by the Walkley Foundation, in partnership with the Universities of Sydney and New South Wales. With funding from the Australian Research Council, project researchers Penny O’Donnell, David McKnight and Jonathan Este have travelled around Australia, talking to senior journalists and editors about the challenges of preserving quality journalism as newspapers evolve in an online and mobile media world. Around 80 interviews with senior journalists and editors from leading metropolitan and national daily newspapers have been completed. The project is gathering ideas about strategic responses to changing workplace

conditions. Initial data analysis suggests journalists strongly believe they need to be vigilant and protective about the quality of news content. As one participant put it: “we have to be prepared to stand up for the values of quality journalism, even if that requires challenging management”. The phrase “quality journalism” is controversial. Some say the broadsheet press is its “natural” home; others dispute this narrow definition, arguing best practice draws from core journalistic skills and values that are “platform-neutral”; but this project disputes this narrow definition, arguing that quality journalism can exist in all kinds of news media and is platform-neutral. This project deliberately chose to focus on newspaper journalism because, historically, newspapers are the major employers of journalists and generate the most original and substantial news content. The research has gathered answers to questions about the definition of quality

Figure 19 : What level of training are you receiving to face the challenges of new media? Source: Essential Media

Which new media tools does your organisation employ? Blogs Comments from public on your stories Using Facebook/Twitter, etc to source stories Using Facebook/Twitter, etc to promote stories Photo galleries Video Other

59% 60% 44% 52% 64% 52% 14%

Figure 20 Source: Essential Media

Have you been expected to develop new skills? Yes No Figure 21 Source: Essential Media

22

60% 40%

journalism and resources for supporting it; the general effects on journalism of newspapers’ online presence; newsroom morale; whether paywalls might work; training needs; changes to professional practices and values; and journalists’ views on reader-generated content and increased interactivity with their audiences. One interesting initial finding about “quality journalism” is its perceived link to news leadership: many participants see newspapers as the fundamental agendasetters of the news cycle, that is, the primary source of new stories that are advanced and extended across the day on electronic and social media. The Walkley Foundation will publish the final report from this project in 2011. Dr Penny O’Donnell is a lecturer in journalism at the University of Sydney; Dr David McKnight lectures in journalism at the University of New South Wales

2.5 Training Training – or the lack of it, remains the biggest concern across the board among Alliance members. Asked what sort of training they had received, only 5 per cent replied they had received “comprehensive and systematic” training. Some 54 per cent of respondents said they had received no training at all and were simply expected to pick up new skills as they went along, while 42 per cent said they had received “just the training I need to do my work”. This suggests that little has changed since our previous survey in which 2 per cent said they had received comprehensive training, 41 per cent said they had received just enough to do their work and 57 per cent said they were expected to pick up new skills as they went along. As Figure 19 illustrates, nearly two-thirds of respondents to the Alliance survey said that they had been expected to develop new skills as part of their work. The variety and scope of these new skills varies from workplace to workplace and among freelancers who have been expected to develop new skill sets in order to market themselves and deliver content in the new formats that media outlets often require – such as accompanying video or podcast. More than half of respondents (52 per cent) said their media organisation was now using video as an online tool, while two thirds (64 per cent) use photo-galleries (see Figure 20). After a sceptical start among news executives, social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter are gaining increasing acceptance as ways to source stories (44 per cent) and to reach new audiences (52 per cent). Some 59 per cent of respondents said their organisation used blogs as part of their online offering. At the root of virtually every other concern from quality to career prospects to work-life balance, there is a reference to the lack of training. “Journalists with years of experience are being excluded from jobs because they have no digital experience,” wrote one respondent, urging the Alliance


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

to “persuade employers that if they expect us to update our skills, e.g. with new technologies, they should provide appropriate training and not just expect people to learn on the job.” Many of the respondents said they felt that their organisations should institute a specific training schedule: “hours/days per year, plus programmed training for new technology, not loosely structured ‘when we can manage’ training in between daily tasks.” One theme that recurred was that news companies were either deliberately excluding some older journalists from training in new media skills or were unconsciously restricting their senior production journalists’ access to training with the result that “they will be defunct and without jobs – and the readers/audience will definitely be poorer if many of those super smart, learned, experienced people fall by the wayside.” One respondent had this to say about the issue: “So many great reporters/editors are still Luddites, so are displaced by techno-savvy bodies with few key journalistic instincts or ethics. Our industry needs to be guided by the few old hands who are tech savvy, leading the two-finger typists with incomparable contacts and news sense to tell their stories in different ways, with the aid of the new digital crew. This learning from each other will benefit both and equip both groups for productive futures.”

A new kind of journalist Glenda Kwek It’s small, light, has many tools and can be used in a variety of different situations. The Swiss Army Knife has been around for more than a century and has been used as an analogy to describe a product or tool that is handy, multi-purpose and gets the job done. In today’s brave new world of the internet and social media, it could perhaps also be used to describe the type of journalist many of us have to become. Before the advent of the world wide web, reporters and photographers could not do their job without editors, publishers or broadcasters. They were one “business unit” that developed a product for readers and viewers. Today, journalists still require publishing platforms to create their work and share it with the public. But as technology reduces the cost of many reporting and publishing tools,

each journalist has become their own “business unit”. He or she can carry out one or more of these tasks: write copy, take photos, record audio, shoot video, moderate comments, collect statistics and build databases. And edit and publish. Like a Swiss Army Knife, today’s journalist has all these skills handy. Not all these journalists would have the usual humanities background. Some may have come from the world of technology – Columbia University announced this year that it was introducing a dual degree masters in journalism and computer science – and as database journalists, be equipped to tackle the technical side of new dynamic storytelling tools. The Guardian newspaper has been a leader in this respect, tapping into the database-building skills of developers to,

for example, map every single death reported in WikiLeaks’ Iraq War logs release, while making much of the data available online in spreadsheets, so that readers themselves can work on it. The ultimate goal was, is and still should be about producing quality journalism. A story can be told through many different mediums, but it still has to be a compelling one. The tools used by the Swiss Army Knife journalist will only be as effective as the creativity and ability of the person harnessing them. As industry leaders search for and experiment with developing future profit models, being aware of and understanding the new tools can help us to be prepared for what comes. Glenda Kwek is an online reporter with the Sydney Morning Herald

Areas of concern included writing for the web, audio and video editing, web design, the principles of social media, photography and slideshows, “I work in online news and tend to be one of the first ones to figure out technology (eg. social media sites) and then be asked to train other people – mostly informally,” one respondent wrote. “We have systems in place that should allow training to occur but there is apparently never enough room in the roster for it to happen – training is always put off until a point in time at which everyone has had to figure it out for themselves anyway.” One response illustrated the general awareness that an understanding of online journalism is needed in order to contribute to the development of better online news offering: “Greater education in the compilation of the web-based paper, the publishing software behind it, to be able to make illustrative suggestions on stories.”

23


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Discussing the narratives of politics and the future of journalism at the 2010 Walkley Media Conference: (from left) Laurie Oakes, John Nichols, Malcolm Turnbull, Annabel Crabb, Quentin Dempster and Christopher Warren

Media Alliance steps in to fill the training gap Renee Barnes The changes wrought to the media through the advent of online technology have been profound and can be unsettling, especially for journalists who must often feel like cannon-fodder in a battle. The war strategists, or news executives, are able to safely sit away from the action debating business models and future possibilities while the rank and file journalists must deal with the day-today carnage that is delivered from an increasingly online focused media world. This online media audience now demands not only to receive news from journalists, but interact with it, make comment and even help source that news. They want journalists to reach out to them in the social media spaces they are inhabiting while at the same time provide media rich, engaging and immediate news and current affairs coverage. These new expectations are daunting and frustrating for journalists. The Media Alliance has stepped in to provide the vital skills necessary to help

24

journalists navigate this digital landscape. The first in a series of practical training courses, The Wired Scribe: Telling Digital Stories, began this year with sessions in Sydney and Melbourne and more planned throughout the country. The course focuses on introducing participants to a range of online reporting and researching tools; techniques for utilising social media to find stories and build and engage audiences; and an introduction to multimedia storytelling. Participants have ranged from freelance magazine journalists to major metropolitan newspaper photo editors, to television current affairs producers and journalists. Many of these journalists enter the course with a strong sense of cynicism for the power and opportunities offered by online and social media, but leave empowered with skills to report and engage with audiences like a digital native. The Alliance is planning further practical training courses, including the next in the series which will focus on providing

participants with the skills to create a personal online presence, as well as publish text, photos and multimedia online. It will introduce participants to online storytelling tools that will enable them to provide interactivity and multimedia content to their reporting. Further courses are also planned in online video and audio production. All courses aim to arm working journalists with the skills necessary to remain relevant in the digital news frontier. As the front line in the online news revolution, journalists more than ever need to upskill. Decisions will be made about paywalls and online news business models, but it will be the journalists that will be utilising this medium to report news, facilitate conversations, build communities and ultimately wage the war that the news media cannot afford to lose. Renee Barnes is a freelance journalist and lectures on online journalism for RMIT. She runs courses in online journalism for the Walkley Foundation


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

Chapter 3: Our audience – and what they think of us People power Audiences have never had more power to consume journalism, where, when and how they want to. Conversely, journalists can feel encouraged that their stories can be read by far more people than ever before with no geographical or time constraints. The most commonly heard mantra among news executives is that audiences will flock wherever quality information is to be found – and that they will even pay for information if their need or desire is great enough. This last point is the great belief which underpins the thinking behind implementing a paywall on news websites, enabling an organisation such as News Ltd to ask its customers to subscribe for access to its content. News Ltd CEO John Hartigan made this point in his opening address to the Pacific Area Newspapers Publishers' Association (PANPA) annual conference in Sydney in August. “We have a chance to attract more readers, viewers and listeners than ever before. In ways we never thought possible. Because until now, they weren’t possible,” he said. “The editorial stars of this new age will be those who are innovative, creative and entrepreneurial. “They will be the ones who really understand what their audiences want; know how to exploit the new technology; and can put the two together to create and publish content people will pay for.” Hartigan is right in that understanding what people want from journalism will be one of the keys to attracting, and monetising, those audiences. The question is, how far do Australian journalists understand their audiences? And, just as importantly, how much do those people respect and trust Australian journalists. News organisations regularly test their product through focus groups and polling, but rarely is that information made public. So the Media Alliance, working with Essential Media and Communications, conducted an extensive telephone survey of the general public earlier this year. The purpose of the survey was to find out how and how often people consume news, which areas of news and current affairs people value most and whether they trust journalists (and whether that trust differs depending on the platform on which they are accessing news content). Mindful of the belief that brand will be increasingly important to journalists, both collectively and individually, we asked people whether they cared, or even noticed, who had written or reported a story. And we asked whether people would consider paying for news. The results are both surprising and illuminating. But first it is worth considering the most fundamental question of all – how people feel about journalism itself. Journalists regularly find themselves languishing towards the bottom of the list when it comes to surveys of “most trusted professions”, but how do people feel about what they do? 3.1 A public good

Does journalism provide a public good?

Not surprisingly, journalists overwhelmingly believe that what they are Agree 60% doing provides a public good and that without their work, society would Disagree 9% be worse off. Our survey of journalists found that 93 per cent agreed Strongly agree 16% with that statement, 66 per cent of them strongly. But when we asked the same question in a survey of the general public Agree 44% about their attitudes to journalism and their news consumption habits, Neither agree nor disagree 31% only 63 per cent agreed, only 16 per cent saying they “strongly agree”. Disagree 7% Some 8 per cent either “disagree” or “strongly disagree”. Strongly disagree 2% Acting on behalf of the Alliance, Essential Media surveyed 881 members of Figure 22: Journalism’s job is to provide a public good without which society would be the public across a range of locations, income groups, age ranges and worse off. Do you agree? educational backgrounds about the way they consume news, the level of trust they place in various news platforms and their willingness to pay for news online. The data provides us with the first reliable picture of how and why Australians are accessing news and information, what sort of information they want and how much value they place upon it.

25


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

What is your primary source of news? Source Television Radio Newspapers Magazines Online I don’t regularly consume news Figure 23 Source: Essential Media

3.2 Where do people get their news from?

Television remains the most important way for Australians to get news with 46 per cent of people nominating TV as their primary source. 46% However a growing number of people (26 per cent) now cite the 11% internet as their primary source of news, eclipsing newspapers (14 per 14% cent). Radio is the primary source of news for 11 per cent of people while virtually no-one relied on magazines for accessing news. In fact >1% more people, 2 per cent, said they didn’t regularly consume news. 26% Older respondents were more likely to state that their primary source 2% of news is newspapers or radio. Of those aged 50-59, 20% stated radio as their primary source of news, while 21% stated newspapers as their primary source of news. Of those aged 60+, 17% stated radio, and 26% stated newspapers as their primary source of news. Younger respondents were more likely to state that online is their primary source of news, with 37% of those aged 18-29 and 51% of those aged 30-39 selecting this media. And some 40% of those with a degree or postgraduate selected online as their primary source of news. Those people who access news online tend to rely most heavily on newspaper websites, with 75 per cent of respondents saying they went to major newspaper sites for their news. Some 63 per cent of respondents also said they relied heavily on the websites maintained by mainstream news organisations, such as news.com.au and ninemsn.com.au. Just over a third of people (39 per cent) regularly visit international news sites such as those run by the New York Times and The Guardian. Some 36 per cent of people said they sourced their news online through search engines such as Google and Yahoo! This is far less than in the US where research by the Pew Foundation found that 56 per cent of consumers accessed news through search engines. Perhaps surprisingly, the ABC’s website abc.net.au is down the list, cited by only 32 per cent of respondents as a site they regularly visit. Some 25 per cent of respondents said they accessed news via social networking tools such as Facebook or Twitter. This tallies with research published by Nielsen which illustrates that five of the 10 top websites for news and research in Australia represent newspapers, while the remainder (apart from the BBC and Fox Sports News) are associated with Australian news organisations.

Where do you go online for news? Source Major newspaper sites Local newspaper sites Mainstream news organisations (news.com.au, ninemsn.com.au) International news sites (The New York Times, The Guardian) ABC.net.au Search engines (Google, Yahoo!) Blogs and news aggregators: Crikey etc Social networking: Twitter, Facebook etc Figure 24 Source: Essential Media

26

75% 29% 63% 39% 32% 36% 13% 25%


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

How interested are you in news about the following topics? Not Not Interested interested Very Somewhat Interested interested total at all total interested interested a little

Don’t know

Weather

77%

23%

39%

38%

20%

3%

<1%

National events/politics

79%

20%

41%

38%

15%

5%

1%

International events

76%

24%

35%

41%

20%

4%

1%

Business/finance

47%

51%

21%

26%

30%

21%

1%

Health

63%

35%

26%

37%

28%

7%

1%

Education

53%

46%

19%

34%

31%

15%

1%

Local news

82%

17%

41%

41%

15%

2%

<1%

State events/politics

64%

35%

25%

39%

26%

9%

1%

Sports

50%

49%

25%

25%

27%

22%

1%

Arts/culture

41%

58%

11%

30%

37%

21%

2%

Entertainment/celebrity

38%

61%

12%

26%

35%

26%

1%

Traffic

38%

61%

12%

26%

35%

26%

1%

Science/technology

57%

42%

22%

35%

30%

12%

1%

Figure 25 Source: Essential Media

3.3 What sort of news are people interested in? Local news emerged as the topic most people said they were most interested in, followed by national events and politics, the weather and international events. Entertainment and celebrity topped the list of topics people said they weren’t interested in at all.

What do journalists think of engaging with their audiences? Around 80 senior journalists and editors were asked: “What is your view about the increasing interactivity between readers and journalists?” Here is a selection of their answers:

something more … Okay, you might get some knocks and some criticism but that’s par for the course. So I think more interactivity with readers or contacts or sources is a good thing. (Editor)

It’s great – I’m very open to that. It’s very liberating because you can communicate directly. It gives you an idea – if you can communicate with the people you’re doing a job for then you know whether your product, which is aimed at improving their lives, is servicing that need. And it makes them feel part of what you’re doing and quite loyal to the product, more loyal even, because they feel they’ve got a say in it, they’ve got a stake, and it gives you an endless source of ideas. It’s very useful. (Feature writer)

It’s confronting, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I think it’s healthy because it’s making us think about people on the other end of what we write and how they respond to it. So from that point of view I think it’s a good thing. (Senior reporter)

Well, I don’t see many journalists getting into this interactivity bit, do you? (Columnist) I think it’s one of the up-sides of the web, the ability for instant feedback on something you write. It’s not necessarily criticism, although there is that. I say to journalists, put it on the web, be the first, get the recognition that you’ve got the story exclusively … You might find people notice it and feed you further information to advance the story for the next day, or at least give you further leads to follow. I think it’s a great means of furthering a journalist’s interests in an area by having instant access to people who know

I don’t know that it’s automatically an advantage. It may foster a sense of camaraderie between the consumer and the person that produces the material. Whether that’s any more real than the fake relationship that a talkback host has with the callers I don’t know, I suspect not. (Deputy editor) It’s what the Internet at its best should be doing in a way; it provokes a sort of, you know, it takes the conversation that otherwise happened in the pub to a sort of global level. (Senior reporter) None of us are great at taking criticism, so it is a bit of a “jumping into the pool and seeing if you can swim” kind of thing. But it is great to expose yourself to comment. In a way, it’s a kind of natural thing, I think, for a journalist to do, that’s been, almost universally, missing in our work. (Gallery reporter)

Look, I think it’s really interesting. On the one hand, I think there’s a real danger in allowing yourself to be influenced too much by the online reaction for two reasons. One is, it’s not necessarily indicative of a wider audience at all. They tend to be of the left, younger and angrier. Not necessarily sharing all those three but a combination. They’re also far more abusive. They can be so corrosive, so foul and disgusting, that you despair of life. On the other hand, I think the reaction – well people have lost their jobs from the reaction they’ve got through blogs. Eason Jordon, the head of CNN News, lost his job through blogs. They’re a remarkable fact-checking thing. (Columnist) Yeah, I think that will develop. I think some journalists have always had a personal brand and I think that will become more significant and those people with a personal brand will attract personal readers and the way the social media works now, you almost can’t avoid having a more direct relationship with your readers. (Senior reporter) I think it’s terrific. I think that it’s important for the public to have a voice and it’s important for newspapers and media outlets to hear that voice. We can be guilty of living in glass towers and becoming disconnected from the general public. So the more contact we have with the general public, the better off we all are. We’ll all benefit from it. (Editor)

27


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

3.4 Why do people want news? News as a form of social connection or a facilitator of social interaction is the most important reason people access journalism. Some 84 per cent of people agreed with the proposition that: “I enjoy talking with friends, family about what is happening in the world” and hardly anyone disagreed. Asked whether they felt a civic obligation to stay informed with current events, 63 per cent replied in the affirmative, while some 60 per cent agreed that information in the news helps improve their lives. For 56 per cent, news is also seen as entertainment or a relaxing diversion. On average, only 22 per cent of people said they needed to follow the news for their jobs. When asked to comment on the proposition that they don’t follow news very much, 67 per cent of respondents disagreed.

Why do you follow news and current affairs? Agree

Disagree

Strongly agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

I enjoy talking with friends, family about what is happening in the world

84%

3%

28%

56%

13%

2%

1%

I feel a special social/civic obligation to stay informed

63%

9%

19%

44%

27%

7%

2%

I find information in the news helps improve my life

60%

10%

17%

43%

30%

8%

2%

News provides me with entertainment, it’s a relaxing diversion

56%

12%

11%

45%

31%

10%

2%

I need to follow news for my job

22%

50%

6%

16%

28%

33%

17%

I don’t follow news very much

13%

67%

4%

9%

20%

39%

28%

Figure 26 Source: Essential Media

This research tallies strongly with similar research by the Pew Foundation already cited in this report. Americans have a slightly stronger notion of the civic function of news (69 per cent agreed with the same question in the Pew survey) but Australians are more likely to consume news for its social connectivity – only 72 per cent of Americans answered this question in the affirmative. In their approach to news, Australians like the serendipity factor; 91 per cent agreed or somewhat agreed that they like coming across news about topics that they hadn’t thought much about before. On the face of it, this is good news for the so-called legacy media models, that bundle of news stories assembled by an editor or executive producer which provides a mix of news and features to cover the “must-have” information and provoke interest in other topic areas.

What’s your approach to news? Describes me well

Describes me somewhat

Doesn’t describe me at all

I like coming across news about topics that I hadn’t thought very much about before

31%

60%

9%

I only follow news about specific topics that really interest me

22%

56%

22%

7%

30%

63%

I rely on people around me to tell me when there is news or information I should know about Figure 27 Source: Essential Media

Some 78 per cent of people agreed or somewhat agreed that they only follow news about specific topics that really interest them. Far fewer people subscribed to the notion that they rely on people around them to keep them informed.

28


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

3.5 How do people feel about the way the media covers news? First, the good news – Australians overwhelmingly appreciate the importance of news to democracy. Some 74 per cent agreed that big news stories matter because they change the way people look at the world and make our leaders act in our interests. Only 5 per cent of respondents disagreed with this proposition. Further, 78 per cent of people felt that the media has an important role to play as a watchdog, especially over government and big business, compared with 5 per cent who disagreed. However a small majority of respondents, 52 per cent, felt overwhelmed by the volume of information, agreeing that there is so much going on that they don’t have time to follow all the news. And 82 per cent of people feel that the media has become too obsessed with celebrity, 46 per cent agreeing strongly with this proposition. Only 4 per cent disagreed. This tallies with the relatively small number of respondents who said they were very interested in entertainment and celebrity when asked what topics they followed in the news. Some 54 per cent of people agreed that if an issue was really important, they would find out about it. How do you feel about news? Agree

Disagree

Strongly agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

There is so much going on these days I don’t have enough time to follow all the news

52%

27%

8%

44%

21%

21%

6%

I can’t remember the last time I read a story that changed the way I look at things

39%

34%

6%

33%

28%

29%

5%

The media is too biased to be taken seriously

41%

18%

12%

29%

40%

17%

1%

Big news stories still matter – they change the way we look at the world and make our leaders act in our interests

74%

5%

17%

57%

21%

4%

1%

The media still has an important role to play as a watchdog, especially over government and big business

78%

5%

22%

56%

16%

4%

1%

The media has become too obsessed with celebrity

82%

4%

46%

36%

14%

3%

1%

If something is really important I’ll find out about it

54%

17%

12%

42%

29%

15%

2%

Strongly disagree

Figure 28 Source: Essential Media

3.5.1 Newspaper reading behaviour Newspapers have always been a habit and circulation has depended on certain behaviour patterns – reading a home-delivered paper at the breakfast table, for example, or during the daily commute to work. Changing behaviour patterns have challenged this habit and, increasingly over recent years, the growth in popularity of news to mobile phones – and other commuter habits such as texting and using social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter from mobile phones have eaten into newspaper reading habits. When asked whether they had their newspapers home delivered or bought a paper to read one the way to work, 34 per cent of respondents agreed, 19 per cent of them strongly, compared to 53 per cent who disagreed. Once at work, in many cases the screen takes over. Only 29 per cent of respondents agreed that they read the papers at work, and of them only 5 per cent strongly agreed. Most worrying for newspaper companies, one of the strongest responses was from people who say they rarely buy a newspaper. Some 43 per cent of respondents said they rarely bought a newspaper, 17 per cent strongly agreeing. What are your newspaper reading habits? Agree

Disagree

Strongly agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Reading a newspaper is part of my daily ritual; I have it delivered to my home or buy it to read on way to work

34%

53%

19%

15%

13%

27%

26%

I will read the papers at work

29%

52%

5%

24%

19%

27%

25%

I occasionally buy a paper when a story is of interest to me

38%

42%

3%

35%

20%

23%

19%

I rarely buy a newspaper

43%

43%

17%

26%

15%

17%

26%

Figure 29 Source: Essential Media

29


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

3.5.2 Online reading habits For the people who say they regularly get their news online, the Essential Media survey drilled down into how they felt about news online. Choice, accessibility and search emerged as a major reason people go online for news. Some 63 per cent of respondents agreed that they use news websites and blogs to get information on issues of interest against only 20 per cent who disagreed. Fifty nine per cent of respondents said that web-based news was quicker and more concise. Conversely, 39 per cent of people agreed with the proposition that web news trades off quality for speed compared with 20 per cent who disagreed. When this issue was turned around by asking respondents whether they would rather wait and read a considered news report in a newspaper, only 29 per cent agreed compared with 39 per cent who disagreed.

What are your online reading habits? Agree

Disagree

Strongly agree

Agree

Neither agree nor disagree

Disagree

Strongly disagree

I use news websites and blogs to get information on issues that interest me

63%

20%

23%

40%

17%

12%

8%

Web-based news is quicker and more concise

59%

15%

17%

42%

27%

10%

5%

Web news trades off quality for speed

39%

20%

10%

29%

41%

15%

5%

I would rather wait and read a considered news report in a newspaper

29%

39%

8%

21%

33%

28%

11%

Figure 30 Source: Essential Media

3.6 Who do they trust to tell them the news? Despite being by far the most popular source of news, when it comes to trust, television runs a close second to radio, followed by newspapers, online news sources and, lurking way down at the bottom of the list, magazines. Few people regard any of the different platforms as “always trustworthy” but the vast majority of people regard television, radio, newspapers and online news as “usually trustworthy” although, interestingly, slightly fewer people regard newspapers as “always trustworthy” or “usually trustworthy” than online news.

Who do you trust to tell you the news?

Source

Seldom I do not Not Always Usually Trustworthy trustworthy trustworthy trustworthy trustworthy trust it at all

Television

80%

19%

8%

72%

15%

4%

Radio

84%

15%

9%

75%

12%

3%

Newspapers

78%

23%

8%

70%

19%

4%

Magazines

39%

61%

1%

38%

46%

15%

Online

81%

19%

6%

75%

16%

3%

Figure 31 Source: Essential Media

Who do you trust online? Source

Seldom I do not Not Always Usually Trustworthy trustworthy trustworthy trustworthy trustworthy trust it at all

Major newspaper sites

83%

17%

7%

76%

13%

4%

Local newspaper sites

82%

18%

6%

76%

14%

4%

Mainstream news organisations (news.com.au, ninemsn.com.au)

80%

20%

8%

72%

16%

4%

International news sites (The New York Times, The Guardian)

82%

18%

10%

72%

14%

4%

ABC.net.au

87%

14%

19%

68%

10%

4%

Search engines (Google, Yahoo!)

72%

28%

5%

67%

23%

5%

Blogs and news aggregators: Crikey etc

29%

71%

1%

28%

47%

24%

Social networking: Twitter, Facebook etc

28%

72%

2%

26%

39%

33%

Figure 32 Source: Essential Media

30


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

When it comes to online news, abc.net.au is the most trusted site – 19 per cent of respondents regarded the site as “always trustworthy”, compared to 7 per cent who had that level of trust in major newspaper sites, 6 per cent for local newspaper sites, 8 per cent for major news organisation websites, 10 per cent for international news sites. Asked whether the quality of news journalism had improved or deteriorated over the past five years, 30 per cent of people said they thought it was better or much better, while 33 per cent thought it was worse or much worse.

Has journalism quality changed in 5 years? Much better

6%

Better

23%

Neither

38%

Worse

25%

Much worse

8%

Figure 33 Source: Essential Media

What do journalists think of the increasing use of user-generated content? Around 80 senior journalists and editors were asked “how important will reader-generated content be in the future?” Here is a selection of their answers: It’s vital. This is the dynamic, not just of feedback and opinions, but of readers joining the news process, sourcing news from the community and letting the communities help build the news coverage. Aren’t the really successful journalists of the future the ones who actually get a handle on how to use the web, to embrace a community into the process, so they just become part of a mix that produces news stories, rather than one person with a telephone, an ability to go to a conference here or there, or do whatever it’s been in the past? It’s taking on the power of the community. (Gallery reporter) I don’t think citizen journalism, as the Americans like to call it, will become the practice in Australia. I think we’ll have

ongoing relationships with readers and with people who can help us but there’ll be no, in my view, co-sharing or no co-operation or no co-opting the public to share or help write and produce journalism. They’ll be a source, they may be the prime source, they may be corroborating what we have, they may bring the expertise we need to verify certain facts or to advance the story, but they’ll not replace the role of journalists, I believe, in Australia to the extent they have in America. (Editor). I think it’s really good if everyone can potentially break news to us or help us break news – the more eyes and ears in the world, the better, the more sources of information, the better – as long as it is moderated and adequately checked, which given the time constraints of some aspects of online, is going to be hard. (Feature writer) I can see how readers contribute on talkback radio, they really have become an

army of unpaid reporters saying “I just saw a bus crash”, “There’s a snake on the road”. But when it comes to the gathering of news and the analysis of news, I can’t see how they can help that much. A team of “I saw’s”, that’s different from somebody actually producing something that’s worth buying. That’s a skill. (Deputy editor). I don’t know, I’ve always thought that the readers tend to – they don’t always co-create, but their reaction certainly does always get a look-in. Obviously we’re listening to their sorts of concerns, and we try to reflect that with the stories we’re running. (Online journalist) When you’ve got an eyewitness who’s the only one who’s captured an image or who happened to have a home video running when there was a plane crash or something, it’s great to have that kind of stuff. But you have to use discretion with these things, and it’s a case-by-case thing. I wouldn’t just have an open-door policy on it, I’d just use discretion. (Senior reporter)

3.7 Are individual journalists important to people?

Do individual journalists One of the buzzwords around news organisations is “brand” – matter? it is fast becoming accepted wisdom that news organisations Always 3% need to build brand awareness around their journalists to attract loyalty from consumers. Usually 16% For newspapers considering subscription paywalls this is an Sometimes 35% area of great importance. Will the presence of big-name journalists on their mastheads be sufficient reason to coax Seldom 30% readers into paying a subscription fee for their websites? Never 16% When asked whether they took any notice of the journalist behind a news report or article, only 3 per cent of people said Figure 34 they always take notice, while 16 per cent said they usually do. Source: Essential Media Some 35 per cent of people said they sometimes took notice of the journalist. The table above (Figure 34) and word cloud on the next page (Figure 35) have implications for those who are putting faith in developing an individual journalists’ brand as a strategy for charging for content. We asked people whether they took any notice of who had written a story or filed a broadcast report. We found very few people always looked to see who the reporter was. When asked if there was a particular journalist whose work they followed, it was clear that, for the majority, it is the story, not the storyteller, that is the important thing.

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Figure 35: Can you name a journalist whose work you follow? Source: Essential Media

3.8 Will Australians pay for news online? Many news organisations are now considering charging for news online. The Australian Financial Review has done so for several years but does not reveal the size of its subscriber base. However the newspaper’s circulation has been in steady decline for the past two years and declared a 4.9 per cent fall in the September 2010 circulation audit. Internationally the move towards subscription paywalls is currently being championed by Rupert Murdoch. Shortly after purchasing the Wall Street Journal as part of his US$5 billion acquisition of Dow Jones, Murdoch announced he would take down the paywall surrounding the WSJ’s content. However he reconsidered that decision and the paywall has remained in place. In April it was reported that the WSJ had 414,000 paid online subscriptions as part of its overall audited circulation of 2.1 million copies. The WSJ charges an annual subscription of US$119 to those people who do not have a subscription to the print edition. Murdoch placed two of his UK trophy mastheads, The Times and the Sunday Times, behind a paywall on July 2 after an introductory month during which visitors to the site were asked to register. According to a Guardian report quoting figures from Experian Hitwise, traffic to the two websites has declined to 33 per cent of its pre-registration traffic (which is Would you be prepared to pay for news content online? actually not as steep a decline as many had forecast).26 Yes 3% Most of this decline took place during the registration period before the paywall was formally No 91% imposed, The Guardian said. Don’t know 6% As part of its Media Alliance survey of public attitudes towards news, Essential Media asked Figure 36 respondents whether they would be willing to pay Source: Essential Media for news content online and received an If yes, how would you unequivocal response. prefer to pay? Some 91 per cent of respondents said they would not be willing to pay for news online, compared to Subscription 68% only 3 per cent who said they would. A further 6 per Per story 8% cent said they did not know. This is a more emphatic rejection of paywalls than Don’t know 24% recent surveys in the US and UK (although most people in those markets have also indicated they Figure 37 Source: Essential Media would not pay for news).

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In a recent YouGov survey of online behaviour in the UK, 83 per cent of respondents said they would not pay for news online. In the US, the Pew Foundation asked a similar question as part of its annual State of the News Media report and 82 per cent said that if their favourite website started charging for access they would go elsewhere to get their news. These seemingly unequivocal responses must be read with several caveats. Firstly, people pay for newsprint and many recognise that a large portion of that payment is for the printing, paper and delivery costs. Secondly, a growing number of people access news and information over their mobile phones or handheld devices. And finally, the introduction of the Apple iPad this year has established another subscription platform on which people understand they must pay to access content. The first Australian newspaper to introduce an iPad application, The Australian, reported sales of 8500 applications in the month after it was released at a cost of $4.99 per month. News Ltd has now rolled out iPad applications for its main metropolitan newspapers. Announcing a restructure of Fairfax Media, CEO Brian McCarthy said he was cautious about paywalls, but was more confident that mobile platforms, such as tablets and smartphones, would be a strong source of revenue. â&#x20AC;&#x153;With mobile devices there is no doubt we will monetise at every opportunity where we can,â&#x20AC;? he told investors in November.

What do you access on a handheld device? Weather

21%

Sports scores

12%

Traffic

5%

Financial information

7%

News and current events

17%

Entertainment

11%

None of the above

73%

Figure 38 Source: Essential Media

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Chapter 4: Online tools, toys and techniques The news industry has never been static but the web has accelerated the pace of change, and brought with it many new technologies for newsgathering and storytelling. Journalists must play a key role in shaping the direction of online and mobile media through the innovative use of these technologies. This is about more than just the survival of journalism as a profession; it is about extending the core values and ethics of professional journalism into new media platforms and the online sphere, in an era where barriers to publishing are rapidly dissolving. While online business models are hotly debated (see chapter 5), examples from around the world show news organisations can improve their reach and increase their audience by engaging with online tools and services. Whether these are tools that help journalists find new sources of information, present this information in new and more vivid ways, or simply let them reach out to and engage a broader public in the news conversation, the news industry must embrace innovation as a matter of urgency. It is an unfortunate irony that we live in an era marked by rapid technological development, but dogged by economic uncertainty, which has forced news organisations to reduce editorial budgets rather than investing in the sort of experimentation that would make their product more relevant and attractive to a changing audience. At the 2010 Andrew Olle lecture, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said, “a failure to experiment is more dangerous than trying new things”.27 This chapter looks at experiments in journalism, and the exciting tools and techniques being developed and adopted around the world. They are a cause for optimism: used effectively and ethically they will help usher in a new era of multimedia storytelling.

The lucky profession David Higgins Journalists were never great innovators for a simple reason – we didn’t have to be. Call us the lucky profession – protected by big barriers to entry and often funded by accompanying “rivers of gold”, the news industry allowed us to develop our craft and our ethics without the fullblown pressures of a conventional marketplace. Then the pace of change picked up. The information age produced cheap, accessible technology – from word processors to web browsers, databases to desktop publishing, computer modelling to cloud computing – unleashing competition from unlikely quarters. Now the social age – from blogs to bit torrent, Tripadvisor to Twitter, Friendster to Facebook – is bringing about a global brains trust that constantly, automatically assesses, sorts and ranks all those new ideas, raising them to global prominence (or burying them) in days, sometimes hours.

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As business guru Gary Hamel says in The Future of Management: “…we live in an irregular world, where irregular people take advantage of irregular events and use irregular means to produce irregular products that yield irregular profits.” How do we compete with that? Our industry traditionally gained competitive advantage by blocking the opposition – printing presses, broadcast towers, licences, fleets of trucks. There were plenty of hurdles for new entrants. But those barriers to entry are mostly barriers no more. Competitive advantage now must come from constant innovation. Think of Apple or Google – by the time their rivals catch up they have already moved on. We have become better at innovation in recent years. It was a bold move to distribute our journalism online for free. Though the strategy mostly has not worked – leaving us with the challenge of returning to paid content – it’s not all bad.

Paid content, more than anything that has come before, will be the trigger that forces us to innovate at an unprecedented rate. In an era when 10,000 monkeys typing represents a credible threat – think of the content farms like Demand Media – there is finally a realisation that professionalism alone will not see us through. Innovation must come not just in the words, pictures, video and audio – but the delivery systems, packaging, pricing, marketing and commercial partnerships. Hamel says organisations need to “move from building competitive advantage to building evolutionary advantage over time, because no matter how good your strategy is, strategies die.” If that sounds exhausting, it will be. But in the modern era it is the only way we will preserve – and build – the value of our journalism. David Higgins is innovations editor at News Ltd


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4.1 New ways of finding stories Crowdsourcing, or actively engaging the audience in collecting, filtering and evaluating information during the initial research phase of reporting, has become an increasingly popular practice for many journalists, who realise that some kinds of journalism can benefit from the knowledge, expertise, perspective and ideas of audiences. Some overseas news organisations have developed customised crowdsourcing interfaces to help them report particular stories, such as the now-textbook model used by the Guardian in its MP’s expenses scandal experiment, where the organisation called on readers to comb through a slew of documents uploaded on their website and flag possible examples of misuse of public funds for further investigation by journalists28. There is more on this kind of crowdsourcing in 4.4.3. But such investigations require lead-in time: they need to be designed and user-tested. In the absence of such time and resources, social media and microblogging tools provide a simple way for reporters and editors to source information and opinion, as well as material for case studies. Recognising the power of these tools to bring journalists and sources together, specialised websites have sprung up which gain revenue from placing sources in touch with journalists.

4.1.1 Twitter and microblogging Twitter is not new – the site was launched in 2006 – but its increasing popularity among journalists is a great driver of change in the news industry. Many journalists use Twitter as an information source and to network. Journalists must resist the urge to be dismissive of this new form of communication and instead examine the gap it has filled and the role it plays in the way people share information. Twitter discussions have naturally evolved to be grouped around hashtags, or keyword tags with # in front of them. Searching by hashtags enables journalists to follow ongoing public discussions regardless of who they are following on Twitter. It can also show us instantly which articles and pieces on a topic are being read, shared, and debated, and help us discover rumours and tips which can be followed up. Microblogging goes beyond text. Twitter extension sites such as Twitpic29, Plixi30 and yfrog31 allow users to tweet pictures, which enables real-time sourcing of visual content uploaded by the public via mobile phone from a scene where a news event is unfolding (see Image ethics in a new media world). PicFog is a powerful picture sourcing tool which displays every picture uploaded on Twitter in real time (and can be filtered using search parameters). Developers continue to churn out a vast array of specialised tools that help filter the information flooding in from Twitter into organised feeds in real time, which experiment with more efficient ways of organising and presenting the information – for example in tag clouds and other visual displays (Journotwit32, for example, which is designed specifically for journalists). A particularly indispensable tool is the Australian-developed Trendsmap33, which combines Google’s mapping software with Twitter’s data on which topics are being most discussed where, producing an interactive map of discussion trends which allows journalists to learn instantly which stories are current where. Journalists using Twitter must of course fall back on their professional skills, digging through this new source of information and sorting fact from exaggeration and spin. When it comes to authentication and accountability, Twitter can be a bit of a rumour mill and there are all sorts of untested issues of identity-ethics, as shown in the case of columnist and blogger Andrew Bolt and the so-called #boltgate incident34, as well as that of UK homoeopath Gillian McKeith35 (though the introduction of the “Verified Account” has gone some way towards rectifying this).

4.1.2 Social networks While by no means new, Facebook is the most popular and versatile online social network. It allows users to upload stories, post images and videos, and participate in forum discussions. Some journalists post call-outs for information and interviewees on their private Facebook pages, which has prompted criticism for theoretically restricting sourcing to the online community of the journalist. On the other hand, many users have between 500 and 1000 “friends” on Facebook, which is quite a large and often diverse pool. Facebook can be a great place to stimulate audience discussion and debate via dedicated groups and “pages”, as in the example of SBS Insight’s Facebook presence36. This is used to source interviewees, conduct informal surveys, and moderate lively discussions with fans which feed into the show. Many other news programs, particularly breakfast news, incorporate social media into broadcasts.

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A great overseas example of social media use is US broadcaster National Public Radio (NPR). In a 2010 survey of their Facebook fans, NPR found that three in ten respondents had commented on an NPR.org story in the five months leading up to the survey37. NPR has started allowing users to sign into their site using their Facebook accounts, allowing the organisation to better track this statistic. For more on the survey, see 4.3.1.

4.1.3 Media and content sharing services No story makes it to television without “vision”, and likewise few make a splash online unless they have a visual component. In the high-speed world of the 24-hour news cycle, journalists increasingly source pictures of news events through Facebook and usergenerated picture sites such as Flickr38, Picasa39 and Photobucket40. Flickr contains pictures uploaded in real time from computers and mobile phones which can be used ethically under various open-licensing arrangements, but it is important that journalists behave ethically and conform to attribution and licensing standards (see breakout). Similar technologies allow video uploading. Qik41 and other instant video-sharing sites let users upload clips and live video from their mobile phones straight to the web. Qik’s ease of use makes it a convenient place to crowdsource video content as news breaks though, as ever, care should be taken when sourcing footage.

Image ethics in a new media world Fiona Martin Visual storytelling is vital to producing compelling journalism for the web and e-readers – and just in time it seems, photo and video sharing services like Flickr, Facebook, Twitpic and Vimeo have opened up a new realm of image sources for journalists, editors and advertisers. When the pressure is on to meet rolling deadlines and to get pictures out on more platforms, it might be tempting to see that social media world as a pool of public domain, free content. But it’s not. And it could be a world of dispute, if more content creators start to take legal action to pursue their copyrights. Last year Twitpic user and software executive Joe Neale successfully went into battle with Sky News in London, when it used his image of a crime scene without his permission and without correct attribution or payment. Some weeks and emails to Sky later, when Joe was still trying to get paid for use of the image, he ran a Twitter campaign among his 20,000 plus followers, which included messages like “Newscorp use your photos without permission but have plans to charge for reading their content”. Sky News then agreed to pay. In a current court case AFP and photographer Daniel Morel are trying to settle whether Morel “provided a nonexclusive license to use his photographs when he posted them on a social networking and blogging website known as Twitter without any limitation on the use, copying or distribution of the photographs.”

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AFP is alleging what many media workers have assumed – that users sanction free republishing of their work if they post it on social media sites. But that goes against basic copyright provisions. As a rule of thumb, every content-sharing service has terms of service which acknowledge the creator’s copyright and then claim additional licensing rights for the service to any work posted there. Socially shared images aren’t in the ‘public domain’ unless the copyright has expired or been relinquished – as you sometimes find on Wikimedia Commons images42. Even then there may be moral rights covering the way the image is used. Realistically you can’t know how social media creators want their work used unless you ask them. That’s a sensible ethical approach to ensure you know: • how they want to be attributed • whether they want to be paid for their work • how they want it to be captioned and whether they want a caption link back to the original work • how the image should be interpreted, whether it’s out of date or wrongly labelled • whether it’s subject to a legal dispute. For harried online journalists Creative Commons43 of video and images, as used by Flickr and blipTV, should take some of the guesswork out of that process. These licenses demand basic attribution for the creator and state any other conditions of use like restrictions on commercial republication.

The trick is to read and follow the licence conditions, which are provided via an embedded link from the image’s copyright notice “Some rights reserved”. If a Commons licence states noderivatives, you shouldn’t crop or Photoshop it. Share-alike means you should also post any modified version you make on the same service with the same licence. There’s an easy formula to follow when reposting a Commons image: Attribution, License, Link. It’s also not a bad idea if you’re planning to modify the image for a national, multiplatform or repeat use project to contact the creator and get a release for the specific use. Virgin Mobile Australia discovered the ethical and legal complexities of using Commons licensed Flickr images when it had to pull and rework its 2007 “areyouwithusorwhat?” ad campaign. It used images licensed for commercial and derivative use, but did not get informed consent from the photographers or people in the images. And in one case they were unhappy enough with the ads to take their dispute to court. It’s important that media workers respect users’ creative rights – but not just to avoid prosecution. Ethical image use ensures everyone’s continued access to those eyewitness, quirkily personal ways of seeing the world that make web browsing irresistible. Dr Fiona Martin is a lecturer in online and convergent media at the Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney


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4.1.4 WikiLeaks Internet whistleblower site WikiLeaks44 is a secure site that allows members of the public to leak documents and other media, hosting them and keeping them squarely and securely in the public domain. This allows journalists to use them as source documents, but the site has triggered an ongoing ethical discussion (see breakout). Digital innovation means that information is freer and moves faster than ever. This reinforces the need to have paid professionals who can balance the public right to know, and the importance of transparency and accountability in the public sphere, against the potential harms and wrongs that can come from reporting a story, and then make an ethically guided decision about whether or not to report.

Leaking wars: media ethics in the age of WikiLeaks Flynn Murphy This has been a big year for WikiLeaks. In mid-year the whistleblower website collaborated with three legacy media outlets: The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, giving them embargoed access to a pool of over 90,000 leaked US military documents that catalogue six years of the war in Afghanistan. The move to team up with traditional news organisations hinted at the limits of “citizen journalism” – while the WikiLeaks organisation crowdsourced the examination and evaluation of the documents online, professional journalists were called on to add value to the information by contextualising it and finding the narrative threads that turned numbers into news. The partnerships also lent credibility and authority to the data. Various powerful examples of data journalism and innovation were catalysed: The Guardian’s coverage included an interactive map and timeline of the improvised explosive devices that had detonated all around Afghanistan over a six-year span45. Deeper analysis of each incident comprising data on numbers of civilians and troops killed (as well as their allegiances) was only a few clicks away. When their embargo passed, WikiLeaks dumped around 77,000 of the documents on its website, after an unprecedented level of redaction and self-censorship by its editorial staff, which self-described editor-

in-chief Julian Assange said was undertaken as a form of “harm minimisation” to protect the innocent46. This raised questions about what qualifications staff must have in order to redact information, to whom sites like WikiLeaks are answerable, and to what degree is their culpability for the consequences of the information they hold being in the public domain. The inevitable ethical discussion that followed the dump was framed around the need to balance the public interest against the safety and security of troops and civilian informants. Claims that the information could lead to the deaths of civilians and collaborators were met with counterclaims of hyperbole and the need for transparency in a murky and complex war. (Though according to a letter obtained by the The New York Times, the Pentagon concluded that while the War Logs could potentially damage security interests, they had not compromised any US intelligence sources or practices.)47 In September 2010 it emerged WikiLeaks had again been in an embargoed collaboration with media outlets, this time to release an even bigger dump of information on the war in Iraq. On October 22, the embargo was lifted on an unprecedented 391,832 secret documents, which had already been supplied to The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, as well as The Bureau of

Investigative Journalism and Iraq Body Count. The War Logs events followed an earlier controversy this year over a clip hosted on the site titled “Collateral Murder”, which shows a 2007 US air strike in Baghdad which resulted in at least 18 deaths. The uploaded clip depicts the killing of two Reuters journalists and several other individuals. This incident sparked heated debate, with some saying the footage was a true, unmediated record of the event, while others argued the truth suffers without contextual reporting from professional journalists, pointing to the wider context of the event as already covered by journalist/author David Finkel in his 2009 book The Good Soldiers. Others pointed out that the title of the video was quite provocative in its own right, and was linked with a George Orwell quote. WikiLeaks is an important space where classified documents can be leaked – and corruption exposed – and where journalists can source safely without risking compromising their sources. However this blessing is ethically dubious – those using WikiLeaks must take the organisation at its word that information is verified as authentic. The ethics of the WikiLeaks phenomenon continue to be tested, and the question of accountability persists. Flynn Murphy is a journalist with the Media Alliance

4.1.5 “Expert” directories A number of “expert” directories have sprung up on the internet which index academics, researchers, public relations spokespeople and other sources, facilitating contact between them and journalists. 48 SourceBottle allows journalists to post online “call-outs” requesting interview subjects with personal experience or expert commentary. These can be publicly or privately distributed. Journalists can choose whether their requests are sent to PR and marketing professionals via (paid) mailing lists, or distributed to the general public via the web and social media. Sources can then contact journalists directly. ExpertGuide allows journalists to source comments from academics and researchers registered with the site, as well as PR reps, and can put journalists in touch with experts who are comfortable interacting with the media. Academics can upload their own information to the site. Sites such as these raise ethical questions given the complex relationship between journalism and PR, but this should only undermine journalistic integrity if the Alliance Journalist Code of Ethics is disregarded.

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The future in the newsroom Paul Bradshaw Journalism and publishing as we know it is over. This is not an exaggeration: most of the elements that made journalism what it was are being transformed. The commercial basis for publishing – advertising coupled with virtual monopolies – is being eroded. At the same time, the connection between organisation-based publishing and journalism has been severed, and the role of journalist-asmiddleman has been cut out as organisations and newsmakers increasingly communicate directly with their audiences. This has left the traditional newsroom trying to reinvent itself for a networked, multiplatform age. When I wrote “A model for the 21st century newsroom” two years ago it was an attempt to tackle some of the big questions facing news organisations as new ways of doing journalism started to crop up all around us. As I prepare to revisit some of the organisations who adopted those ideas things have – thankfully – settled down a little. Firstly, news organisations are revisiting

basic principles: what is our role in a world where we no longer have a monopoly on information? Or control over the distribution of it? How can we be authoritative when anyone can access an expert or eyewitness at the click of a button? What are the new sources of supply and demand that we can respond to commercially? Secondly, they are reinventing themselves for this new context. Some are freeing themselves from the linear methods of production that physical media required: now they are making “product out of process” – starting by twittering the first pieces of information on a story, to blogging their drafts and publishing stories, before moving onto multimedia analysis, contextual portals, and personalised journalism through databases. This not only means more content but also more ways for people to encounter that content through social distribution channels; it means better optimised content for search engines; and more engaging content that

appeals to advertisers. Some newsrooms are recognising that the “organisation” they belong to extends beyond their walls – collaborating with users to produce better-informed stories that are more connected with their users. They are moving from being middlemen in a production line to being hosts of a conversation: stimulating, bringing in a range of voices, and always keeping things interesting. And some are finding that, simply, the bar has been raised for journalism. Stories need to be more compelling and connected, news more accessible. Data journalism and crowdsourcing give us new ways to hold power to account. Journalism has always been about getting the information and stories that matter to you. Now there are new ways of doing that, and the best journalists will use them, as they always have. Paul Bradshaw is a senior lecturer in online journalism, magazines and new media at the School of Media, Birmingham City University

4.1 New ways of telling stories Online media brings powerful new ways for journalists to tell stories and present information. The web and mobile devices allow us to combine text, images, animation, sound and video, exploiting the strengths of each to produce compelling multimedia journalism. New modes of expression are emerging, supported by tools which allow greater interaction and customisation, as well as greater transparency within the journalistic process itself.

The nature of news in a digital age Ricky Sutton The evolution of the newspaper industry is a fascinating thing to watch in the current commercial climate. Both print and digital elements are still experimenting with ways to work together, and we are bound to see models that will work, and others that won’t. The big question that everyone seeks to address is “what does the future of news telling look like?” From the days of the Gutenberg press, we’ve come from words on a page through to a mix of words, image, audio and video to engage the senses of our audiences, and the internet broadband networks we have today mean we are capable of telling stories in a far more compelling and immersive manner than ever before. The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has inspired some of the most dramatic reporting and imagery over the past few years, but little else told the story as effectively as the footage of underwater oil plumes and their effects. Similarly, footage of an exploding

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device in Afghanistan captures the drama and story in an engaging and horrifying way. Video on websites is nothing new, though the capacity to bring high-quality video to an accessible online audience has brought big changes. I experimented with online video back in the mid-90s while at News International in the UK. Here in Australia, Fairfax has had a constant video capability since 1998, investing more money and people in producing online video than any other commercial publisher in Australia. Fairfax currently produces around 1100 videos a month. Reporters are at breaking news scenes alongside the major TV networks, shooting on high-quality equipment in an effort to bring the public a more engaging story. To supplement in-house production, we also expect to see more and more allegiances between broadcasters and print media in the future. Fairfax Media already has deals with the ABC, Network Ten, CNN,

AP, Reuters and many others. These agreements ensure that our audiences receive quality video from a wide and respected variety of quality sources. The divergence in technologies means that we need to provide access to a myriad of devices, such as readers like the iPad, mobile platforms, and a growing number of integrated devices for the home and business. We have a commitment to continue to report the news in many formats and to all people, irrespective of the platform or the way they choose to consume it. We’ve often asked our audiences what they want from us at Fairfax. The clear response has been quality journalism, and plenty of it, and in all forms. We will continue to deliver that and more to the audiences that depend on us for information about their world. Ricky Sutton is the head of video with Fairfax Digital


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4.2.1 Live blogging Live blogging lets journalists act as filters of important information – particularly that breaking on social media and microblogs – and aggregate, broadcast and comment on it in real time. It is particularly effective when a news event is unfolding that makes use of social networking and microblogging sites, such as the 2009 Iranian election protests, or the political unrest in Thailand earlier this year. Though it’s just as effective for covering a live conference or event, as the Media Alliance did at this year’s 2010 Walkley Media Conference49. The Guardian’s online coverage of the Iranian elections was particularly powerful, aggregating and contextualising the most important tweets and rumours, as well as hosting and discussing other media that had been uploaded or tweeted, including video, audio and pictures from the protests, and news articles50. This kind of sourcing can be a particularly effective way to get around government blocks on information and contribute the expert commentary of journalists to an unfolding event. It also functions as a permanent record of events, assuming it is archived by the media company. The Reuters coverage of the Bangkok protests is another powerful example of microblogging in action51. It was able to funnel a chaotic event into a constantly updated narrative, integrating pictures, sound and video, publishing live tweets from reporters on the ground, reporting and contextualising tweets from spectators, as well as cross-linking to expert commentary from their own and other outlets. The ABC and Crikey coverage of the 2010 Australian federal election stand out as great examples of live blogging in Australia. A popular and easy-to-use live-blogging platform is CoverItLive, which was developed by a Toronto-based company in 2007. It gives one or more administrators and moderators the capacity to broadcast messages in real time, as well as to include messages from the audience and comments from Twitter either automatically or following moderation. It can incorporate various media into the live feed, including film, sound clips, pictures and more, as well as enabling polls to be conducted in real time. CoverItLive remains free for smaller users.

(above) Reuters’ live blog coverage of the 2010 riots in Bangkok and (below) The Guardian’s coverage of the 2009 election protests in Iran

4.2.2 Microblogging Microblogging sites like Twitter are not just a way to research and source, but a way to tell stories and create “acts of journalism”, as exemplars like Latika Bourke, Andrew Meares, Laurie Oakes and Mark Colvin routinely demonstrate. Bourke, the 2010 Walkley Young Journalist of the Year, often breaks news on Twitter, and along with other journalists offered online commentary from the campaign trail of the 2010 election. Bourke was praised by Walkley judges for her “pioneering use of Twitter” in breaking the Liberal Party leadership spill which saw Malcolm Turnbull toppled, and was also in the news when NSW Liberal leader Barry O’Farrell sent her a tweet which was prefaced as being “deeply off the record,” but was in fact publicly available52. Meares was a 2010 Walkley Finalist for a series of “Phonearoids”, pictures uploaded from the campaign trail onto Twitter using an application that rendered them in the style of Polaroid pictures. In submitting these “Phonearoids” in the online journalism category of the 2010 Walkley Awards, Meares said he “wanted to bring an irreverent and critical eye to the campaign where the ever present media and the endless travel were also worthy subjects.”

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Crikey: an argument over several platforms Sophie Black It starts predictably. Roll over in bed to one radio station, pour coffee to another, spread four papers open on the table while packing bag, scroll through Twitter with half a piece of toast in mouth on tram ride to work. So too, heading up the morning news conference is just the same as any newspaper, only smaller. Much smaller. We are seven people around a desk, a band of roving correspondents of varying ages, experience and backgrounds, one member of the press gallery, a band of bloggers and a man who moonlights as a Dog. Crikey is different to your average free news website. We’re accountable to two audiences. Increasingly they’re merging, but right now we answer to thousands of Daily Mail subscribers who want their money’s worth, delivered round lunchtime, and a website audience who stick around our site all day and night looking to be informed and surprised. We haven’t made it easier on ourselves with our commitment to carve out news stories for The Daily Mail. If we want to continue to set ourselves apart from our online counterparts, we have to put in the work.

It can get messy. Being big on disclosure means occasionally picking over our own entrails. But transparency is our insurance policy. That’s why we endeavour to make the call, get the quote, run the response. If we get it wrong, we’ll make sure readers hear about it. In between, we argue with each other. Over several platforms. A Skype chat going with the website team, story submissions coming through via email, anonymous tips sent from the website, pitches messaged on Facebook, a subbing question put to Twitter, and fielding phone calls in between. By 1pm, we’ve pulled together 25 stories in roughly five hours. It used to stop at that. The email deadline used to be a little like rolling out the presses. Afternoons were a natural lull. Not anymore. In online, you don’t just decide on what your lead is, you sell it: you follow the story, ensuring it’s talked about, forwarded, RTed and commented on. The idea of a limitless flow chart of news bites can be overwhelming – until you plug into it. As an editor of an online publication that also aggregates content, I have to set

aside time in the day to read, read, read. In an afternoon I’ll skim from Der Spiegel to a video on the Atlantic Wire, a National Public Radio podcast, to a Spiked column, a post on Design Sponge, to the highest ranking story on Reddit. Most days will also consist of reading and writing about where the online medium is headed. In an industry that’s already very good at talking about itself, online media goes one further. It’d be easy to dismiss this as navel gazing, but in a space that moves as fast as it does, it’d be short-sighted to dismiss anything. Part of a good day is devoted to experimenting with something new and getting lost in a web of outgoing links to find a source you’ve never heard of on the other side. A story doesn’t live and die in a day, it’s hashed over, reread, commented on and watched as it gets digested across the web. And there’s no natural time to turn off from any of this. It’s relentless. But increasingly addictive. These days, news print on my fingertips isn’t so appealing. A front page doesn’t talk back. Sophie Black is the editor of Crikey.com.au

4.2.3 Audio slideshows A powerful mode of expression which has gained prominence in online news is the audio slideshow, which can combine audio-narration, interviews, sound effects and music with a slideshow of images. Slideshows let you customise the pace of a visual narrative, so that users have time to reflect on the emotional impact of powerful, high-quality images. Due to constraints on technology and bandwidth, video streamed to the average webuser tends to be of quite average definition. In contrast, static images can be of strikingly high definition, creating an extremely effective and inexpensive way for journalists to narrate a story told in images. A great example of this genre is “An Ambush and a Comrade Lost”, a New York Times piece about an ambush of US soldiers in Afghanistan53. Another outstanding example examined the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.54

4.2.4 Living stories In terms of layout, digital media allow various different media forms to converge on a single web page. Living stories, an experiment conducted by Google, The Washington Post and The New York Times earlier this year, experimented with different ways of presenting stories, combining all of the coverage of a running story into a single page and using feeds to display new developments as they came to light. It also gave audiences access to customisable filters and different ways of organising information in a story: for example around key players and locations, or by date, or keywords garnered from tag clouds. The Living stories experiment finished in February 2010, but lessons learned about producing user-centred customisable layouts have had a noticeable impact on the way major overseas outlets are publishing their large investigations and features. The code is open-source and freely available.55

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4.2.5 Dynamic maps and interactive timelines Digital mapping tools offer a unique way of presenting information. Hypertext, images, video and sound can be pegged to different locations on a map, building a multimedia story around a geographic context. The Google Maps Application Programming Interface (API) can be embedded in free sites, while Google Maps API Premier can be used in commercial ones. Many leading news outlets build on Google maps to produce their own map-based stories. Dynamic mapping is increasingly prolific in the US with the growth of community-produced hyperlocal news (see breakout, Hyperlocal: Really, really local), with sites such as EveryBlock combining dynamic maps with civic data, crime statistics, relevant mainstream news journalism, and user-generated content such as Flickr photos, and organising them into localised feeds. The Miami-based Knight Foundation, which awards News Challenge grants to a number of new media ideas that promote civics and develop ways to inform local communities, has in the last few years funded several projects which combine dynamic mapping with wikis and newsfeeds. Another way of telling a digital story is with an interactive timeline, generated with a tool such as Timetoast.56 This allows multimedia content to be pegged to dates on a scalable timeline, in much the same way as with a location on a dynamic map. There are some great examples of digital reporting that combine online mapping and timelines, including “Black Saturday”,57 produced by ABC’s online innovation unit, which won the 2010 Walkley Young Online Journalist of the Year Award for Drew Ambrose, and the Washington Post’s Timespace project (particularly its coverage of the 2008 US election).58

The New York Times’ TimeSpace project covered the 2008 US election using multimedia, interactive timelines and dynamic maps

Hyperlocal: Really, really local Greg Barila One of the most important lessons of the GFC for our industry was the way in which it helped underline the value of “local”. As Australians battened down the hatches for an economic tidal wave, they (instinctively) retreated to the warmest, safest place they could – their homes. It didn’t matter that, for some, the storm never came. People started shopping closer to home, favouring local products and services, cooking at home, ploughing their savings into their houses rather than taking holidays, and being content to entertain, and be entertained, at home. If any of this was a surprise, it’s something community papers have always known: local matters. It’s a trend that has emerged over the past five years and media organisations large and small are cottoning on. The buzzword is “hyperlocal” (more local than local, or really, really local) and dozens of sites, mainly in the US and UK, have sprung up in the past five years in an effort to build communities around local news and information. The results have been mixed and the experiments have ranged from small start-up websites backed by university or philanthropic seed money to large-scale

neighbourhood projects by companies as big as The New York Times. In large part, the push towards local is being driven by the same force that makes information so readily available and publishing so easy: the internet. The more news and information made available, the more consumers may become inundated and overwhelmed by it all. What they end up wanting is news that is useful and deeply relevant to themselves and their communities. Established community news organisations are well-placed to meet that demand. Our reporters and editors are deep in the communities they report on, know them, understand them and are willing and able to give them a voice. The digital age has only given us new and better ways of reporting on issues and events at a grassroots level and dynamic and powerful ways of telling stories. When our readers comment on a local issue online, chances are they are conversing with their physical neighbours. Our websites are helping to facilitate that sense of community. We also give our readers the freedom to write and submit their own “news” stories, publicise an event, share a photo or take

part in a petition or survey. We’re using the web to present ideas and useful information in dynamic ways. Last year, our colleagues at Quest Community Newspapers in Queensland came up with the idea of helping cyclists and pedestrians avoid being swooped by magpies by plotting “swoop” hotspots on a Google map. It was a practical, and fun, way to provide information that made a small difference to their readers’ lives. In 2009, our colleagues at Leader Newspapers in Melbourne took out a Walkley Award for coverage of mental health services in one of its communities, bringing photos, text, audio and video together in a powerful multimedia package. This November, Messenger will invest significant time and energy into covering the 2010 local council elections, treating it effectively with the same importance as a state or federal poll. Council decisions impact everyone who owns a house, uses a rubbish bin, visits a public pool or drives on a council road. If it matters to our communities, it matters to us. Greg Barila is online news editor at Messenger Community News, Adelaide

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Transparent reporting: DocumentCloud Flynn Murphy DocumentCloud is a free, open-source tool with great promise for investigative journalism. Funded by a Knight Foundation News Challenge grant of $719,500, it uses optical recognition software to scan primary source documents (such as those obtained under a Freedom of Information request), turning them into hypertext, which means they can be searched, copied, highlighted, archived, and shared with other journalists and the public (if this is desired). “Entity extraction” software enables all names, places, times, dates and other important information to be tagged, allowing users to search multiple documents at the same time using these keywords. Furthermore, the documents can be published alongside online journalistic investigations, contributing a previously unworkable level of transparency to news reporting. But perhaps most significant, the documents can be kept in a large open database accessible to other journalists and the public for use in subsequent investigations, rather than just sitting on a desk gathering dust. Investigative journalists can choose

The motion to subpoena President Barack Obama, from the Chicago Tribune site. Various sections were redacted, but a computer glitch meant Tribune journalists were able to recover and add them back into the document.

when the documents are released publicly, meaning others cannot cherrypick and scoop them while they complete their investigation. And journalists can boost their credibility and accountability by linking documents with their uploading journalist, meaning the onus is on news organisations to vouch for their authenticity. At the time of writing, close to 100 news organisations had signed up to the

project, with 4500 documents submitted and 154,000 pages processed. A prime example of the use of DocumentCloud is the repository of trial documents collected during the Chicago Tribune in its investigation of disgraced formerIllinois Governor Rod Blagojevich59, including a motion to subpoena President Barack Obama. Flynn Murphy is a journalist with the Media Alliance

4.2.6 Web documentaries One of the most ambitious journalistic models to come out of the online journalism genre in recent years is the “web documentary”, a kind of extended online package which exploits the multimedia potential of the web, and plays to the strengths of each media form to cover a complex and multifaceted issue, often over a series of pages in a self-contained website. A great example of a web documentary is Kimberley Porteous and Kate Geraghty’s powerful report on sexual violence in the Congo, “Sexual warfare: rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo”.60 Another piece is The New York Times and David Rhode et al’s “Held by the Taliban”.61 Meanwhile, MSNBC, known for its multimedia narratives, continues to produce “Rising from Ruin”, a special report that documents the slow rebuilding of two coastal Mississippi towns following the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.62 Of course, the issue for web documentaries is cost and lead-time, but while expensive and time-consuming, they can generate real esteem for media organisations.

4.2.7 Cartoon games and flash animations Another innovative project funded this year by the Knight Foundation is The Cartoonist, an authoring tool allowing online news sites to create simple games that function in the same way as editorial cartoons. One of its creators, Ian Bogost, says we need to think of the potential of the web for journalistic expression in a way that taps the potential of computers to simulate systems and behaviours. Bogost says: “It’s important to be very attentive to the purposes and traditions that we want to continue culturing, and to extend them into the future. The trick with any medium is to know when to use it and why. If [The Cartoonist] succeeds, it will have been because we’re helping to bring back the role of the cartoonist, albeit in a somewhat different form.” Political flash animations are increasingly popular on online news websites overseas, for example the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning US cartoonist Mark Fiore who is syndicated on a wide variety of news sites.63

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Long-form journalism books its place in the future Jonathan Este In January 2009, Lev Grossman asked, in an article in Time Magazine: “What is the matter with publishing?” highlighting the problems besetting publishers, booksellers and authors. Simply, the audience is fragmenting and has less time to read; an antiquated business model still puts too much risk on publishers and booksellers; book-form writing is starting to appear, free, online; and growing numbers of out-ofcopyright books are available online through platforms such as Google books. This is a major concern for Australian journalists who are increasingly turning to long-form non-fiction to tell their stories. Book publishing is in the middle of a revolution as profound as the news business. According to James McQuivey of

Forrester Research, the consumer market for e-books in the US is forecast to triple in five years from US$966 million in 2010 to nearly $3 billion in 2013.64 McQuivey believes that book publishing will make the transition to digital faster than newsprint, because books are a single revenue business, deriving their revenue from the simple purchase transaction – which will adapt more easily than print or TV, which has advertisers to consider. Writing in The Walkley Magazine in February this year, Louise Adler, the CEO of Melbourne University Publishing, described the challenges presented by digital publishing and the dangers that authors and online retailers could cut publishers out of the loop. “We have to work out where we fit into

this new landscape,” she warned. Senator Kim Carr, minister for innovation, industry, science and research, announced the establishment of the Book Industry Strategy Group (BISG) in February 2010, to recognise the importance of the Australian book industry and the need to develop viable strategies for operating in the digital age. Among those on the group is Christopher Warren, the federal secretary of the Media Alliance, who said: “It’s imperative that financial rewards for creative work and the authors of that work remain at the centre of the publishing process. We devalue this at the risk of losing an important outlet for quality journalism.” Jonathan Este is director of communications at the Media Alliance

4.3 New ways of finding audiences Social media and microblogging platforms are powerful ways to distribute news content, and they are changing the way news reaches audiences. It’s a shift UK journalism academic and Online Journalism Blog editor Paul Bradshaw surmises as “Everyone is a paperboy now.”65 Online, users and consumers are also distributors, sharing the news that matters to them with their friends and peers via the social web. Our third chapter supported the common model of news as an inherently social experience which promotes bonding and social cohesion – whether the topic is local gossip, celebrity or nuclear disarmament. However, the accelerating speed and ease with which audiences can now communicate and share information is a shift the likes of which many journalists and academics compare to the advent of the Gutenberg press. At the 2010 Walkley Media Conference, Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University, described the mass media using the analogy of a world where software updates are delivered to every computer, regardless of whether or not the computer has the original software installed. In the same way, he argues, traditional media models deliver to audiences and users regardless of whether or not it concerns or interests them. The consensus among media thinkers is that breaking out of this mindset and rethinking the way content reaches audiences is the only way forward. In our survey, 25 per cent of respondents said they source their news primarily online, eclipsing newspapers at 15 per cent. Importantly, of this 25 per cent, one quarter say they source news primarily through Twitter and Facebook.

4.3.1 Social networks and microblogs as sources of traffic The communities which exist on social networking and microblogging sites direct their members to content that they share an interest or a stake in. In a sense, these communities occupy traditional editor/gatekeeper roles, funnelling relevant stories to other users via links which bypass the homepage – content-page infrastructure of online news sites. This has resulted in fundamental changes to online news sites, including the now widespread take-up of social-media friendly “share” and “add this” buttons, as well as “further coverage” style links around pages to encourage users who splash down on any page to stay on the site for longer, viewing more stories, and generating more advertising revenue. Many news pages automatically tag stories for easy indexing in social bookmarking sites such as Delicious and social news sites like Digg. In the US, National Public Radio (NPR) uses the potential of these new forms of media to engage and interact with so-called “digital natives” in an extremely effective manner. The news organisation has carried out a number of surveys on the way social media users interact with NPR content.

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In July 2010, NPR’s Facebook fan page reached one million fans. Of these, 40,000 respondents took part in their Facebook users’ survey, according to NPR66. Of the most significant threads in the survey were the findings that three in five respondents got most or all of their news online, with three quarters of respondents saying Facebook was a major way they received their news and information from the broadcaster. Nearly three quarters expected their friends to share links to information and interesting stories online, echoing a recent Pew Foundation survey that showed half of respondents relied on those around them to keep them up-to-date with news, which was surmised by NPR in the maxim: “Your friends are your personal news wire.” Most tellingly, the survey found that the vast majority (84 per cent) of NPR’s Facebook fans regularly clicked through to NPR stories posted on their Facebook page, translating into 1.5 to 2 million pageviews per month. This finding is supported by NPR’s internal metrics. NPR followed up their Facebook users’ survey with a survey of their Twitter followers67, which was completed by over 10,000 respondents. Many of the results were similar to those of the Facebook users, except that Twitter users tended to be younger and more often engaged with NPR content on digital platforms and via podcasts, as opposed to on the radio. While 77 per cent of Twitter followers got most or all of their news online, the platform itself does not translate into referrals according to both the survey and to NPR’s internal metrics. While we have over three million Twitter followers across multiple NPR accounts, they typically drive less than a fifth of the amount of referral traffic than our 1.25 million Facebook users do during any given month. So while Twitter may be an ideal way of getting headlines to our users, it doesn’t necessarily translate to the same amount of traffic as Facebook does.68 The NPR discussions of their Facebook and Twitter surveys are recommended reading for anyone developing an online strategy for a news organisation.

Twitter rises to the occasion: Trafigura Flynn Murphy The thwarting of a super-injunction taken out against The Guardian in the UK last year is a great example of the complementary strengths of social and “traditional” media. On September 11, 2009, lawyers for Trafigura, a London-based multinational specialising in mining and raw materials, had an injunction placed on The Guardian to prevent it covering the Minton Report, a leaked internal document commissioned by Trafigura on its alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast (which reportedly affected around 30,000 people). When a British Labour Party MP questioned this injunction in parliament, lawyers for Trafigura were able to obtain another injunction preventing even the parliamentary question itself from being reported. This prompted outrage from Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who tweeted “Now Guardian prevented from reporting parliament for unreportable reasons. Did John Wilkes live in vain?” – along with a link to a Guardian story about the gagging. The story dubbed the situation “Kafkaesque” and only reported what it was permitted to – that the case involved “London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.”

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Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s game-changing tweet.

By the next morning, the Twitterverse and blogosphere were ablaze: spurred on by Rusbridger’s cryptic tweet, the parliamentary question had been uncovered, and the report was spreading like wildfire on Twitter under the hashtags #trafigura and #carterruck (which quickly became some of the platform’s highest trending topics). The publicity rendered Carter-Ruck’s gag order useless, and it was dropped, allowing journalists from The Guardian and other outlets to give the story full coverage, using their vast resources to investigate and contextualise it and provide background. Social media and

traditional media had played complementary roles in bringing a major public interest story to light. The Trafigura case has often been used to rebut the snipe that “nothing of any importance can be said in 140 characters”. Few argue that Twitter and social media will replace or supplant the mass media in the foreseeable future. But all media forms have strengths, and while Twitter only provides titbits of information, it allows collaboration, and the dissemination of information, in a vastly efficient way. Flynn Murphy is a journalist with the Media Alliance


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4.3.2 Australian news organisations establish social media presences Australian news organisations are increasingly interacting with their audiences on social networking and microblogging sites. News organisations seem to recognise the need to become vocal players in the social web in order to take a share in promoting their online content. Users can follow a news organisation feed on Twitter in the same way as they follow other users. Most news organisations are now on Twitter, including The Australian (@australian), Crikey (@crikeyheadlines) and ABC (@abcnews – and in many other forms), which tweet headlines accompanied by links to stories published in the site. The ABC also tweets links to other content including live streams of press conferences.

4.3.3 The journalist as a brand Journalists too are using their own Twitter accounts to promote their stories online and to build online followings. One journalist with 10,000 or even 1000 followers who tweets about a story they have written, and is prepared to engage with the Twittersphere on it, will generate a great deal of traffic to a news site. The tweet occupies an untested space between “formal” and “informal” communication. Gaffes by politicians, journalists and celebrities – often treated as “published” and on the public record, even if deleted from Twitter – have led to a number of controversial incidents. Many journalists fill their Twitter bios with disclaimers about views being their own, and not representing the organisation they work for, but should nevertheless be aware that the wider community may associate what they say on Twitter with what they say in the press. There remain ethical questions about the links between a journalist’s Twitter account and their employer, which will continue to be tested as Twitter use becomes more widespread. In terms of the law, at present there has been no legal test for defamatory statements on Twitter; under Australian law there is a possibility that such a test could call into question the status of the new medium as a “publisher” and question the liability of Twitter itself for comments made using its platform.

The Guardian crowdsourced its investigation of the MP’s expenses scandal

4.4 Getting audiences involved Besides quality content, at the heart of any successful online news site is an audience that feels it has a stake in proceedings. Users that care about what happens on a site will band into vibrant online communities, and become loyal returning audiences. By encouraging users to interact and debate with each other and (where possible) with journalists, the news discourse expands. Other ways to get audiences involved are by drawing expert bloggers into the conversation, or by crowdsourcing (which can include trawling through volumes of data that journalists on their own would simply not have the time or resources to get through, and flagging relevant sections for more in-depth journalistic analysis).

4.4.1 Comments and forums At the simplest level, a way to encourage interactivity on news sites which has seen a widespread take-up, has been to integrate the successful elements of blogging into existing news-website infrastructure, by creating spaces for users to comment and debate about key issues in stories. When audiences discuss the news on a news site, they return to the site repeatedly to continue and follow the discussion. As long as comments are moderated with a legal eye to ensure they are not defamatory (as news websites can be seen as publishers under Australian defamation law), they can turn a news site into a public forum.

4.4.2 User-generated content Experiments in user-generated content have introduced other ways to encourage interactivity. Many news sites tap the potential of their audience and publish their contributions prominently, such as the ABC’s opinion and analysis site The Drum Unleashed,69 and the UK’s My Sun.70 Given that online space is relatively unconstrained, this need not eat into the column inches of professional journalists.

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The New York Times is not afraid to take risks and experiment when it comes to online innovation

Innovation from 8 cents a day Jonathan Green As far as I know, the ABC was the first of the big media players to establish a division formally titled “Innovation”. It’s true: News, Radio, TV and Innovation are the organisational building blocks you get for your (indexed) 8 cents a day. The Drum was an idea that grew in that division, and it was a slightly unsettling notion for many others in the ABC: giving ABC journalists and presenters the opportunity to write pieces for an online space that offered context and analysis around the constant hubbub of news and current affairs. Two tricky concepts there. The first is “write”. The ABC is a broadcast organisation, and presenting its journalistic work as text is something of a novelty. But it’s something very necessary online. The strength of online media may lie in its native capacity to flit between various modes of presentation; from video to audio, via three dimensional contextual

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hyperlinking and so forth, but one of the little oddities of journalism online is how much of it is straight forward text on a page. So old-fashioned, but there you have it: the internet loves a written story. At The Drum in any given week we will publish maybe 40 pieces of standard oped length (around 850-1000 words). This knocks spots off any newspaper opinion page in the country and it’s all but entirely a straight text output. Reading. Depth. Analysis. Insight. All of it in the supposedly hit-and-giggle-space of online media. So in its way The Drum was one of the ABC’s rare ventures into text publishing, albeit text publishing that is “broadcast” via the internets. The “opinion” thing was the other vexing issue. ABC journalists don’t have them of course, the corporation’s strict editorial policies forbid them and the ABC’s audience wouldn’t tolerate them for a moment. It’s an important thing. The

value of prominent ABC journalistic names the calibre of Chris Uhlmann and Annabel Crabb, both of them Drum regulars, lies in their capacity to be seen as even-handed prosecutors of public and journalistic interest. They must never be partisan. All ABC writers at The Drum therefore need to tread a careful line set by internally defined concepts of context and analysis. We mix that with writers from outside the corporation, who are free to air whatever reasoned view they like and the end result is a pretty robust blend. Readers have responded. The Drum’s traffic has grown from week to week since our launch in December 2009. The engagement of its audience through story comment strings is extraordinary and thoughtful. So far, the experiment seems to have worked. That’s not opinion by the way, just a reasoned piece of contexualisation. Jonathan Green is the editor of ABC Unleashed


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4.4.3 Crowdsourcing Seeing crowdsourcing only as a way to assist in research and analysis neglects the fact that it is a powerful community-building tool. Getting an audience truly invested in a story – anything from encouraging members of the public to contribute footage and evidence for an investigation, to actually encouraging them to get involved in the investigation themselves, as The Guardian did when it dumped some hundreds of thousands of documents on parliamentary expenses on its website and encouraged its readership to pore through them, searching for evidence of corruption misuse of funds. They even turned it into a competition. While it was actually the Telegraph that broke the expenses scandal, the Guardian was able to gain significant mileage, and discover various further rorts using this method. While some 27,000 people pored through the documents, only about half have been reviewed to date. But regardless, The Guardian online has built a powerful crowdsourcing community which can (and has been) mobilised in other investigations. Another good example of Twitter as journalism, also from the UK Guardian, is the investigation by journalist Paul Lewis of the death of Ian Tomlinson, a newspaper vendor who collapsed and died during the G-20 summit protests in London after being struck by a police officer. Lewis used his sizeable Twitter presence to gather evidence of the incident, and those who had witnessed the event tweeted eyewitness accounts and footage straight to him instead of the police (whom many of the protesters did not trust). News eventually reached a New York-based funds manager who had been in London on business the day of Tomlinson’s death, who discovered he had captured the assault on camera. The footage, published by The Guardian, prompted a criminal inquiry into the event by the UK’s Independent Police Complaints Commission.

4.1.4 Expert bloggers Blogging is now ubiquitous, and many bloggers, regardless of whether they are trained journalists, are experts in their own fields. As well as crowdsourcing such experts, some news sites go further, actually integrating established expert bloggers into their infrastructure, a very successful example of this being the Crikey blog network71. There would not be any journalism without expert sources, for the simple reason the role of the journalist is often to communicate expert knowledge and opinion. So it should not be surprising that many journalists now rely on specialised bloggers to inform them on key issues and debates that they may not have come across as part of their research process.

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Chapter 5: The way forward After the “Fall of Rome” - a new republic of news? “There is an irreversible trend in society today which rather wonderfully continues what we as an industry started. It’s not a ‘digital trend’ – that’s just shorthand. It’s a trend about how people are expressing themselves, about how societies will choose to organise themselves, about a new democracy of ideas and information, about changing notions of authority, about the releasing of individual creativity, about an ability to hear previously unheard voices; about respecting, including and harnessing the views of others. About resisting the people who want to close down free speech. If we turn our back on all this and at the same time conclude that there is nothing to learn from it because what ‘they’ do is different – ‘we are journalists, they aren’t: we do journalism; they don’t’ – then, never mind business models, we will be sleepwalking into oblivion.” Alan Rusbridger, Cudlipp Lecture, January 201072 The news industry was never only about making money – and the challenge for journalists and those people who love democracy is to have the imagination to uncouple the idea of journalism from the idea of business models, revenue, and financial returns to a limited number who will always prioritise cost-cutting above serving their audiences. The challenge facing our industry is how we are going to continue to deserve the trust of our audiences. How are we going to continue to inform, educate and entertain in this challenging new world? To hold the powerful to account while offering a voice to the powerless? To draw in, build and benefit from communities in order to serve them better? This is a transformational period in the history of journalism, and journalists – as much as news organisations – need to be transformational players. We have moved into an era in which journalists working individually – or in small groups – are already coming up with successful new ways of telling stories, creating compelling narratives, reaching broader audiences. When Mark Scott delivered his A.N. Smith lecture in October 2009 he raised the spectre of the collapse of what he called the “Media Caesars”, the great empires of broadcast and print, owned and run by legendary dynasties – the Murdochs, the Packers, the Fairfax families, that dominated the Australian news media for most of the 20th century. “Many who once were visionary media leaders failed – at the time of great success – to see the reality of the business. The inherent weaknesses. To see how real the risks were. The emerging threats. Today they seem largely out of solutions – and instead challenge reality by seeking to deny a revolution that’s already taken place by attempting to use a power that no longer exists, by trying to impose on the world a law that is impossible to enforce.”73 It is one of the great ironies of the digital revolution that in an age where it is possible to tell stories more vividly and reach out and engage audiences more effectively than ever before, the shaky foundations of commercial news journalism constrain the major media organisations from being able to fully invest in these new ways of pursuing the craft of journalism. As our studies have shown, the perception of journalism – both from inside the industry and from audiences – is that there has been a decline in quality in recent years. Journalists also complained of overwork and a deterioration of their work/life balance. We can infer a link between these two observations. A bright spot on the horizon is that a global survey of news executives found that further reduction in the number of employees was seen as a relatively low priority: “Newspaper executives seem to agree sacking workers should only be done as a strategy of last resort.”74 Another positive is that employers across the board intended to continue to invest in training for both staff and management. But the research conducted by the Media Alliance, when combined with recent writings about the state of journalism in Australia and globally, suggests that there are several questions that need urgently to be considered. • What can the commercial news media do to enhance the quality, reach and profitability of its journalism? • What can journalists do to ensure they have the skills to prosper in the new landscape of news? • What can governments do to help ensure that the craft of journalism continues to perform its core tasks? • What can the journalists’ union do to help with all of these outcomes?

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5.2 What can the commercial news media do? In a word – invest. Invest in training, innovation, experimentation and technology platforms.

5.2.1 Innovation According to the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) report, Charting the Course for Newspapers, the imperative to innovate is widely acknowledged among news companies around the world. The sentiment is felt most strongly in northern Europe and the US where 90 per cent and 80 per cent of respondents respectively agreed that everyone in their organisation recognises that change is critical. This is not felt so strongly in Australasia, the report says. Most organisations feel that a key way to pursue this goal is to look for new revenue sources – 77.5 per cent of respondents agreed that their companies were already “constantly on the lookout for new ways to make money beyond historical sources of revenue, like circulation, display advertising and classified advertising”. At present the argument in Australia seems to be stalled at the paywall debate, although the development of mobile platforms for journalism such as smartphones and wireless tablet computers has provided an opportunity for news organisations to tailor their product for platforms on which people are prepared to pay. Australia remains a hostage to fortune in the take-up of new platforms. It remains to be seen how successful the various iPad applications released by major news organisations will be. A great deal of this will hinge on the development of a National Broadband Network which can deliver quicker and cheaper downloads. Innovation in terms of news product appears to have largely stalled after a burst of experimentation last year. Australian news organisations have been slow to pick up on many of the trends covered in chapter 4. Further experimentation will be vital if news organisations are to expand their audiences and develop new lines of revenue. In his July 2009 speech to the Press Club in Canberra, John Hartigan, the chief executive of News Ltd, said journalists and news organisations had “ever been challenged as we are now, to justify why someone should pay for our content”.75 Hartigan said the public would pay for news that is “original, exclusive, has the authority and is relevant to our audiences”. And he challenged his audience of reporters to ask themselves when was the last time they had written such a story: “I’m not saying there haven’t been stories like this. But, there have been too few,” he added. The Alliance agrees with the broad sweep of Hartigan’s assessment. But those stories will not be found or told without the enthusiastic adoption of some of the new ways of finding and presenting news detailed in chapter 4. In her welcome speech for the 2008 Guardian Changing Media conference in London, the then director of digital media at Guardian News and Media, Emily Bell, stressed that journalism was entering an era where partnerships would become increasingly important: partnerships between mainstream news organisations and independent experts to create valuable niches around which audiences can gather; partnerships between journalists and their audiences who can bring energy and expertise to a new issue; between expert storytellers and expert technicians to ensure that audiences get an engaging, deep and satisfying news experience.

5.2.2 Training In the WAN report, Charting the Course for Newspapers, training – of both staff and management – was identified by news executives as absolutely key to the future survival of their organisations, but at the same time identified journalists and editorial managers as among the least equipped for change in their circumstances, implying that training programs have yet to impact on the way many journalists and editorial managers are thinking. This tallies strongly with what we are hearing from Alliance members as outlined in chapter 3. A worrying indicator from the WAN report is that only 38.6 per cent of news executives in Australasia indicated their organisation would invest in training programs to improve reporting skills, while only 35.6 per cent thought their companies would invest in training for improved technical skills. Both these areas are vital to the health of journalism in this country. Sadly at the time of greatest need for training opportunities, most of the major news organisations have discontinued their program of journalism cadetships, the traditional method of preparing school-leavers and graduates for a career in the industry.

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The Alliance believes there are two key components of an effective new media training program for journalists: • understanding the way technology changes what we do and how we can do it – a wholistic approach that seeks to understand the impact of technology and its possible challenges and opportunities. • practical skills training in areas such as web and application design, video shooting and editing, broadcast interview techniques for print journalists, writing for the web, interacting with audiences, social media skills and search engine optimisation. The Alliance and the Walkley Foundation are presently trialling a range of training courses that will address these needs. The courses will be relevant to all journalists but particularly to freelancers, whose training needs are not addressed by news organisations. We will be rolling these courses out across Australia and NZ over the next year. The need for a closer relationship between journalism and technology has been recognised by Columbia University in the US, which has recently started to offer a combined MSc degree program in computer science and journalism that will prepare a new generation of professionals with skills in the technical aspects of both digital media and news production. “This should be journalism’s golden age; more people have access to more news sources than at any time in history,” the journalism school’s academic dean Bill Grueskin said. “But most news organisations have not fully embraced the digital revolution. This program is designed to turn out graduates with both the highest calibre of journalism training as well as technical skills ranging from data mining to computational imaging.” This is an approach that Australia and New Zealand could profitably learn from.

Journalism 2.0: Social media journalism training is no longer discretionary Julie Posetti Social media literacy is now a key element of journalism education and training. “This isn’t just a kind of fad from someone who’s an enthusiast of technology,” the BBC’s director of global news Peter Horrocks told reporters early this year. “I’m afraid you’re not doing your job if you can’t do those things. It’s not discretionary,” he said. Yes, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook may ultimately be replaced by new platforms (perhaps even a hybrid platform like Conan O’Brien’s satirical YouTwitFace?) but the concept of an interactive, audience-engaged and activated real-time web platform for journalism is here to stay. Social media sites, including interactive blogs, are now essential items in journalists’ kitbags. They are tools for newsgathering and dissemination; for investigation and even crowdsourced fact checking. Perhaps most importantly, though, they are platforms for engagement with Rosen’s “the people formerly known as the audience” – each one of whom is a potential source. But there are rules of engagement for journalists operating in these spaces. Rules which require more than mere technical knowledge of how to tweet or post a Facebook status update. They also demand reflective practice and critical thinking in reference to ethics and professionalism. So, while individual journalists are now required to swim with the social media tide, rather than resist it, it’s incumbent upon their employers and professional organisations to provide appropriate

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resources to support this emerging journalistic practice, along with the training necessary to equip the practitioners. This means journalism academics and industry trainers need to be facilitating both technical training and critical engagement with these new technologies and their impacts. It was this reality that led to the programming of a deliberative forum on the role of social media in journalism training at the groundbreaking 2nd World Journalism Education Congress held at Rhodes University in South Africa this July. I chaired the forum, while world-renowned online journalism pioneer and media trainer Mindy McAdams provided expert input. Twenty-five journalism educators representing every continent debated the issues – from the inevitable “who is a journalist?” to the ethical challenges of verification and the importance of authentic engagement in the social media sphere. We made six recommendations to the Congress which will form the basis of a detailed report to be posted at the WJEC2 website (http://wjec.ru.ac.za) and published academically in the coming months. The recommendations are: 1) Social media exposure and competency is now an essential component of journalism training globally – even in areas where internet access is limited or absent, mobile access is levelling the technological playing field and crossing cultural boundaries. 2) Journalism educators and trainers

need to be at the knowledge cusp of radically changing journalism training. Definitions of journalism, journalists, and journalism practice are in flux. Rather than trying to “pin jelly to the wall”, journalism educators should facilitate open discussions about the ways in which journalism is changing, focusing on descriptions and predictions, not definitions and limits. 3) Creativity is necessary to embed social media practice into traditional journalism training (not teaching it in isolation) and integrate it with theory. Specific platforms (such as Twitter) need not be taught as stand-alone tools but rather to demonstrate/train in (changing) journalistic practices. 4) Ethics and professionalism are part of teaching about social media. Themes include authenticity; verification; transparency vs. objectivity; managing the personal/professional divide; sourcing. 5) Teach students to select and curate diverse sources of information along with professional contacts to build networks and new audiences, expanding beyond friends and official local news sources. 6) Explore using social media to excite students about topics that interest them (e.g. social justice; environmentalism) and engage and collaborate with local communities. Julie Posetti is a journalist and social media researcher who teaches journalism at the University of Canberra


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5.3 What can journalists do? In a word: innovate. Try new things, watch what other people are doing and see if it works. Cherry-pick the best ideas from around the world.

5.3.1 Innovation overseas A great deal of the innovative drive detailed in chapter 4 has come from individual journalists. EveryBlock was dreamed up by former Washington Post journalist Adrian Holovaty. DocumentCloud was the brainchild of Aron Pilhofer, editor of interactive technologies at The New York Times. David Cohn, the man behind Spot.Us came up through journalism at Columbia University before writing about media for an array of newspapers and magazines. Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media, which runs some of the most trafficked blogs in the US (and has outposts in Australia), was a reporter at the Financial Times before setting up his own highly successful and lucrative venture (his personal net worth has been estimated at US$26 million). Two other Washington Post journalists, John F Harris and Jim VandeHei, quit their day jobs to found Politico, a newsletter for Beltway insiders which has turned into a must-read multimedia newsroom with 70 journalists. Rafat Ali, who founded ContentNext, publisher of influential media and technology news website Paid Content, has been dubbed “journalism’s poster boy for career independence from news companies” by Editor and Publisher. Ali, who sold his brainchild to Guardian News and Media in 2008 for a sum reported to be “north of US$30 million” studied computer engineering in the UK but worked in journalism in India before setting up ContentNext. He told The Guardian: “I do think the ‘nichefication’ of news media will continue and smaller and smaller niches will emerge – some new, and some which we haven’t even thought about. Publishers who realise these trends and ride these smaller niches will win ... Individual journalist-entrepreneurs will become more common in the next few years, as they realise that they can develop their own businesses.”76

Jim VandeHei quit the Washington Post to co-found the influential political news site, Politico

Independent journalism’s “poster boy”: Rafat Ali, founder of Paid Content Photograph by Rex Hammock/Flickr

5.3.2 Meanwhile, in Australia and New Zealand Here in Australia we’re beginning to see this entrepreneurial drive as journalists take advantage of their ability to publish and reach influential and lucrative audiences. Stephen Mayne, the founder of Crikey, was one of the first in Australia to realise the potential of self-publishing. After being bought by Eric Beecher’s Private Media Partners for a reported $1 million in 2005, Crikey boasts a subscriber base of 15,000 who receive a daily email. In February, The Australian reported Crikey’s revenues at about $4 million a year. Private Media is also linked with Australian Independent Business Media Pty Ltd, which publishes Business Spectator, Climate Spectator and Eureka Report, which is a subscriptionbased online newsletter for investors. The major shareholders of the company are all print journalists who migrated from the “mainstream”: Alan Kohler, Eric Beecher, Mark Carnegie, John Wylie, Stephen Bartholomeusz, Robert Gottliebsen and James Kirby. Another expanding venture is run by expat Englishman Tim Burrowes. Focal Attractions is a new media publishing company specialising in marketing and travel in Australia. Focal’s portfolio includes mumbrella.com.au, a website and e-newsletter covering “everything under Australia’s media and marketing umbrella” with news, aggregated content and comment. Burrowes experiments with a weekly podcast and the Mumbo report video interview which has snared some of Australia’s top media and marketing identities. Sister title thumbrella.com.au performs the same role for Australia’s travel and hospitality industries. Focal recently acquired Encore magazine, a monthly print magazine, website and email newsletter focusing on the film and television industries. Recently a group of freelance journalists and journalism educators has combined to set up the Public Interest Journalism Foundation, which is based at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. In November, the foundation published its first crowd-funded work on YouCommNews, a community-based non-profit news site which is experimenting with a new kind of business model to crowdsource and resource the sorts of stories which they believe the mainstream will find it difficult to cover (see New news is in the public interest). YouCommNews is based on an idea similar to that adopted by Spot.Us and hopes to partner with mainstream and other independent and online media organisations to publish their work.

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New news is in the public interest Margaret Simons You can commission the news – and you can write stories that people care about so much that they are prepared to fund you to do the work. This year a new experiment in journalism was launched by the Public Interest Journalism Foundation (PIJF) at Swinburne University of Technology. YouCommNews – standing for You Commission the News – is an experiment with a new business model to support the journalism people really want to see. It is a non-profit, people-powered news site that uses the social networking capacities of the internet to crowdsource both ideas and resources for high-quality, community-driven journalism. The YouCommNews site allows members of the public to commission the stories they want investigated. Story ideas can be “pitched” on the site (www.youcommnews.com) by either journalists or members of the public. Anyone can then pledge funds to support the projects. If the money is raised the journalism is done by professional

freelancers, under the supervision of the Foundation’s editorial committee, which is composed of leading journalists. The resulting stories are then available for publication in mainstream, independent and online media, either freely or through the sale of publication rights. The insight behind YouCommNews is that publication is no longer a problem. Almost anyone can publish news and views to the world. The challenge is finding ways of paying for the journalism that the community wants and needs. But at the same time the internet creates opportunities for better, healthier relationships between journalists and the audiences they serve. YouCommNews means that journalists can be supported through a direct relationship with their audience, without there having to be a big media organisation in the middle. Launched a few weeks ago, the YouCommNews site is based on the successful USA project Spot.Us, which

recently completed its first collaboration with The New York Times. Spot.Us has expanded from its San Francisco base to Los Angeles and Seattle. YouCommNews already contains pitches for potentially groundbreaking stories. A story on YouCommNews can be of intense interest to a small audience, or a more conventional mass audience yarn. Stories can be intensely local, or global. All that is needed is a community of interest sufficiently engaged to back the project. Part of the experiment is to find out what kind of journalism the public will care about enough to pitch, and fund. To protect the independence of the journalism, individuals are allowed to fund a maximum of 20 per cent of a pitch. Journalists and media organisations registered with YouCommNews must agree to abide by the mission statement of the Public Interest Journalism Foundation, the Alliance Code of Ethics and Australian Press Council principles. Margaret Simons is a freelance journalist and author and is chair of the PIJF

5.4 What can government do? In a word: engage. Engage with the major industry stakeholders to promote a strategy that will support both commercial and non-profit journalism as the cornerstones of a healthy news media. For many people in the commercial media, the idea of government support for journalism is anathema. It is almost an article of faith for some that to be effective and, thus, credible, media must be totally independent of any government subsidy or support. In his MacTaggart lecture in August 2009, James Murdoch launched an attack on the BBC as a threat to the commercial news media. It threatens significant damage to important spheres of human enterprise and endeavour – the provision of independent news, investment in professional journalism, and the innovation and growth of the creative industries. That process has to be reversed … Independence is sustained by true accountability – the accountability owed to customers. People who buy the newspapers, open the application, decide to take out the television subscription – people who deliberately and willingly choose a service which they value. And people value honest, fearless, and above all independent news coverage that challenges the consensus. There is an inescapable conclusion that we must reach if we are to have a better society. The only reliable, durable, and perpetual guarantor of independence is profit.77 While the extent of Murdoch’s views as expressed here may not be commonly held, a healthy cross-section of people would agree with the thrust of his argument, that a publicly funded news operation running websites, selling content through DVDs and books and raising advertising revenue on the audiences for its online ventures overseas, has an unfair advantage over its commercial rivals.

5.4.1 A role for public broadcasters Australians value their public broadcasters very highly. A government review of public broadcasting services in 2009 received thousands of submissions praising the ABC for its universality, its championing of Australian content and its ability – and its will – to innovate.

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Launching the resulting report, Strengthening our National Broadcasters, Stephen Conroy, the minister for broadband, communications and the digital economy, said that the key themes emerging from the submissions process were the importance of the national broadcasters’ freedom from political and commercial influence; the need to ensure that the services of the national broadcasters remain accessible and freely available to all Australians, regardless of geographic location or income; and the importance of credible and impartial news and current affairs and quality Australian content. Innovation stands as a key role for public broadcasters, particularly in the transformation and turbocharging of Australia’s digital space through the National Broadband Network. ABC managing director Mark Scott has stressed the role of the ABC in engaging with the public and has asked for funding to make its local radio presence the basis of “town square” sites in which communities can interact and discuss local affairs. The ABC has already set up its ABC Open project which will partner local journalists and other content creators with members of the public in regional Australia to “create, collaborate and share” news ideas and stories. Similarly, SBS could make user-generated content a way of enhancing its relationships with ethnic communities. At present public broadcasting is the only media business model known to be working. This allows public broadcasters the freedom to innovate; the ABC, and in the UK the BBC, and NPR and PBS in the US are using that freedom to develop new ways of communicating with their audiences. In July, the ABC launched its continuous news service, ABC News24, to cautiously positive reviews from the marketplace. The new service has been launched without extra funding of its own and aims to harness the existing resources of the public broadcaster’s newsrooms in Australia and overseas. Media Alliance members at the ABC who are involved in the service are broadly supportive of the move, but are concerned at the amount of extra work involved and worried that it may impact on the quality of their work. For both the ABC and SBS – which also runs high-quality news and current affairs programming on an insufficient budget – there is no doubt that adequate funding will be at the heart of the continuing vibrancy of public interest journalism in this country. One need only look at the problems suffered in New Zealand by the public broadcaster, TVNZ, which is allocated only NZ$15 million in public funding and must compete with commercial TV channels. The Key government has also indicated it plans to abolish TVNZ’s charter, ostensibly to allow it to compete more easily with commercial rivals. Critics of the move have warned it will cut off what little funding is left to the broadcaster and will mean that important public service programming will become unviable. The government has also signalled it will apply stringent cuts to Radio NZ and many fear that both RNZ and TVNZ will lose credibility and audience as a result.

Tanks off our lawn! James Murdoch warns the BBC it is making life hard for commercial news organisations Photograph by David Cheskin/Pool/PA Wire

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ABC – the story is in the numbers Mark Scott Last month’s podcast downloads from the ABC topped 5 million for the first time. Radio National content alone accounted for 2 million of those downloads. And there have been almost 42 million so far this year. ABC iView recorded 2.1 million visits during October. And again in October, over 10.1 million ABC vodcasts were downloaded – an increase of 3 million over the equivalent period last year. The ABC iPhone app has been downloaded 1.1 million times, and since its release just four months ago, around 130,000 ABC iPad apps have been downloaded. What’s going on here? People are clearly avid for ABC content – and we’ve transformed ourselves to make sure it’s available more often, in the most contemporary ways possible. We know that convergence is a way of life for Australians -– as citizens and consumers. So we began each of these services on a build it and they will come basis – and the verdict is now in. Yet, believe it or not, this innovation is part of an ABC tradition. Few people

realise that when ABC Radio began, only 2 per cent of Australians had a radio licence. Only 1 per cent of households in Sydney and Melbourne had a TV when ABC television started in 1956. Internet use wasn’t even measured by the ABS when ABC Online began. We’ve taken the same approach with ABC News24. News and information is integral not just to the ABC’s identity as the national public broadcaster, but an essential piece of our civic discourse. It gives every Australian the chance of a more informed, and therefore more meaningful, participation in democratic life. To better meet our common challenges. The ABC News24 channel has also given us a means by which we can take the involved conversation that takes place around Q&A to a truly national level. The first trial of this was the Q&A featuring former prime minister John Howard that became famous when his security detail neglected to ask people to check their shoes at the door. ABC News24 has proven to be not just good news for the public, but good news for journalism, too. Annabel Crabb exemplifies the reality of

journalistic practice in 2010. She tweets well, tweets often and is often re-tweeted. Clearly, with 25,000 followers, a lot of people don’t want to miss what she’s saying. But she’s also got a grip on the two-way street of learning that social media presents as well. Annabel writes for the ABC’s news analysis site The Drum, appears on the ABC News24 one-hour discussion show The Drum and does spots on ABC News24 as needed. She speaks to ABC Radio all over the country and was on the special series of Gruen Nation in the lead-up to the election. And on the seventh day, she does not rest. She’s on Insiders on ABC Television every couple of weeks. It’s Annabel Crabb 2.0 – an inspiring, if daunting example of energy and garrulous productivity that’s hard to beat. Annabel and her colleagues working in similar ways are identified in the public mind with a new wave of ABC journalism, journalism that truly connects with today’s audiences. Spirited, hopeful, engaged with contemporary life. For journalism at the ABC, better days are still ahead. Mark Scott is the managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

5.4.2 A helping hand for democracy In most OECD countries discussions are underway on measures that governments can take to help the news media get through the digital revolution without threatening the core democratic purpose of news journalism. Recent domestic newspaper policy discussions and actions around the world: Austria • Plans to modernise press subsidies • Discussing ways to “secure the future” through journalist training with an emphasis on “quality” France • December 2008 saw the launch of a series of expert group meetings to come up with ways to salvage the press industry • U600 million in emergency aid for the newspaper industry • Doubled the state advertising budget for newspapers • Facilitating development of non-profit, charitable news organisations • Free newspaper subscriptions for 18-yearolds to encourage life-long take-up • Review of moral rights of journalists facilitating the reuse of articles across different platforms

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Germany • In response to the “Hamburg Declaration” publicised by a large group of German publishing organisations, pledged a legislative amendment to better protect copyright and prevent exploitation of newspaper publishing content Korea • Government will continue to provide financial aid to regional and local newspapers (including internet newspapers) • Government is actively helping define an online news provider status • Government ensuring protection of digital content of news providers • Legislative and regulatory initiatives to increase editorial responsibilities and obligations of internet news portals


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Netherlands • Programs to foster employment and training of young journalists: – U4 million project – Ministry for Education, Culture and Science will pay the salary of 60 young journalists for two years – Journalists will then be hired by the approximately 30 Dutch newspapers • U8 million Innovation Fund applying to internet initiatives • Discussions about extending the low VAT tariff (6 per cent) which currently applies to newspapers to “digital publishers products” (this debate will need to be conducted at EU-level) • Investigation into advertising-related income of public media (criticised for earning money from advertising by publishers who say this distorts competition) Spain • Government looking to provide direct aid to the sector and expanded access to state credit • Proposals include: – U60 million in low-interest loans for printing purposes – U300 million in specific ICO (Spanish public bank) actions – Lower postal tariffs – Journalist training – Creation of centre for journalism excellence • Editors qualified the measures as not sufficient, and talks continue Sweden • A previously proposed reduction in newspaper subsidies has been shelved

United Kingdom • Digital Britain report suggested reassessing the need for specific market intervention, and the particular role of the BBC • Report made case for intervention to prevent decline of news in the nations, locally and in the regions • Raised concept of Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNC) which would finance and generate news content for use on regional television • Discussion about relaxing newspaper merger laws United States • Newspaper Revitalisation Act introduced into Senate proposing to consider news organisations charities/non-profits for tax purposes • US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) looking into: – Limited anti-trust exemptions possible – Business and non-profit models for news organisations – Role of targeted and behavioural and other online advertising – Implications of online news for copyright protection European Union • No specific action at European Commission level, save a letter from EC President Barroso to European Federation of Journalists calling for public intervention in the European press • Other policies are relevant: – Application of state aid rules to the broadcasting sector – European parliament has been very active in fostering media diversity and avoiding excessive media concentration

In the US, where 166 newspapers have folded or discontinued, government is taking the notion of support for the news industry very seriously. Last year Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, called a hearing saying he was concerned that “newspapers look like an endangered species”. Celebrated screenwriter and former journalist David Simon, author of the acclaimed series The Wire, told the hearing that the internet “leeches reporting from mainstream news publications, whereupon aggregating websites and bloggers contribute little more than repetition, commentary and froth … High-end journalism is dying in America and unless a new economic model is achieved it will not be reborn on the web or anywhere else.” He argued that anti-trust regulations should be relaxed in order to allow commercial news organisations to discuss ways of charging and protecting copyright material.78 A recent book by John Nichols and Robert McChesney, The Death and Life of American Journalism (Nation Books, 2010), sets out an ambitious wish list of government programs and regulatory changes to preserve the democratic function of journalism by promoting a healthy non- and low-profit sector to sit alongside the commercial news media. The pair’s central point is that a healthy free press is central to the US Constitution, so it follows that it is government’s responsibility to ensure that independent journalism is preserved.

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Among their proposed measures are: • the establishment of a “news Americorps” where journalism graduates are funded to work in regional and community media, American high school newspapers and radio stations • subsidies to high schools to allow them to hire journalists to assist with school journalism projects that would both equip students with media skills but also help them to understand the civic role of journalism • the provision of US$200 “Citizenship News Vouchers” to members of the public to spend on the news media of their choice • a government buy-out of failing newspapers and assistance with the transition to “postcorporate” not-for-profit or low-profit organisations keeping on as many journalists as is practicable • reform of the taxation system to assist with the development of new low-profit or not-for profit ventures, including tax credits to help pay journalists’ salaries. Nichols and McChesney propose paying for this (costed at between US$20 and $35 billion) with a combination of new taxes and imposts including a tax on consumer electronics similar to the excise on TV sets paid by Germans to support public media, and a 2 per cent sales tax on advertising and on ISPs or mobile phones. Funds could also be released with a tax on the broadcast spectrum allocated to commercial broadcasters. Nichols told a Democracy Now! Forum in February this year that the decline in the scope and quality of the US media had predated the rise of digital media platforms: “This is not a dialogue about journalism, newspapers or media. This is a dialogue about democracy … What we’re suggesting is, this old media system, for however we refer to it, produced tragedy and farce: a war, an unelected president. What we want to talk about now is how we create a new media system that works and sustains democracy.”79 The same sort of lateral thinking is overdue in this country, particularly if the development of a strong, independent non-profit media is to be encouraged as desirable.

5.5 What can media unions do? In a word: organise. For 100 years Australia’s journalists have improved their working lives – and the power of their industry – through working together to build power. This remains central to the continuing health of the news industry in Australia. It has been 100 years since journalists launched a national trade union, banding together in Melbourne in December 1910 to form the Australian Journalists’ Association (AJA) which gradually grew to incorporate the various state-based organisations and associations. Over the past century, journalists have worked effectively together to protect and enhance our craft. Whether through collective bargaining to secure better pay and conditions or through the sorts of professional campaigns that established the Media Alliance Code of Ethics at the heart of the way Australian journalists practise their craft, the union has been a key player in making life better for journalists and their audiences. That role is as important now as it has ever been. As the industry adapts to the digital revolution, the Media Alliance is working to ensure that journalists, whether they be fulltime employees of the “mainstream media”, freelance, casual or contingent workers or selfemployed journalism entrepreneurs, have the help they need to shape their working environments and their industry. In New Zealand, journalists work together through the EPMU, which represents 3500 New Zealand workers from areas including commercial print, newspapers, print journalism and radio and television broadcasting. The EPMU is also the only organisation that provides press cards and a universal code of ethics for journalists.

5.5.1 Collective bargaining The most visible way the union works for journalists is by collectively bargaining to protect and enhance working conditions, both for full-time employees and – more recently – freelance journalists as well. As we have seen in this report, the way we work is changing rapidly and it is the responsibility of the Media Alliance, working with its members, to ensure that journalism remains a viable and fulfilling career. As news organisations feel the pressures of change and uncertain future revenues, the temptation for management has been to cut staffing costs, which inevitably impacts first on the newsroom. Australian journalism has lost more than 700 full-time positions. That’s 700 less people

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uncovering important information or ensuring that stories are presented in as high a quality as possible. In most of these cases the Alliance was there to cushion the blow for those journalists who were laid off and provide advice as to their best next steps. The other common strategy among the big media organisations has been to rationalise production with the introduction of desktop editing in broadcasting houses and “subs hubs” in newspapers. Again, it is important that journalists, through their union, have a say in how this reorganisation is carried out.

5.5.2 Help for freelance journalists Until recently, it was impossible to bargain collectively on behalf of freelance journalists who were categorised under the Trade Practices Act as independent contractors effectively in competition with each other. However a ruling this year by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ruled that in future freelance journalists would be able to bargain collectively with four major employers (Fairfax Media, News Ltd, Pacific Magazines and Australian Consolidated Press) through an agent (in this case, the Media Alliance). The Alliance has conducted a survey of freelance members to outline the challenges facing them when dealing with these employers. Traditionally these have included downward pressure on pay rates and the loss of copyright and moral rights over the use of a contractor’s work. A working party is consulting over the preparation of a standard contract for use when dealing with these employers.

Getting it right on copyright Ross McCaul For content users, seeking the rights to reuse published content can be fraught with frustrations and hurdles. Knowing where to ask permission isn’t always obvious – nor is who to ask, as a news article or book can have a different rights holder depending on variables like date or format. Similarly for the rights holder of those works, whether it be a publisher, author or photographer, managing your permissions process is likely to be timeconsuming and a resource burden. The Copyright Agency (CAL) is launching an online system for Australian publishing called RightsPortal, to enable the clearing of rights to published content conveniently through a central point online. The idea is simple, rights holders provide CAL with a list of publications to license, the rights they want CAL to manage on their behalf and a rate card for those transactions. CAL then creates an aggregated rights and

permissions facility online though a single interface. A key market for this type of service is the broader business community. The average corporate organisation uses news content in large quantities to track competitors and monitor business sentiment, but in today’s seamless digital environment conducted at internet speed, copyright is often a blindside. Recent research by the specialist US consultancy Outsell found that when employees are forwarding information 47 per cent seldom or never think about copyright and another 31 per cent are ambivalent about it. Another telling finding is 51 per cent of employees believe free information from web or print is okay to share without checking for permission. When copyright infringements happen it is seldom intentional or a cynical infringement of copyright, but simply an example of where education and

awareness on copyright has fallen behind general modern workplace practices like email and intranet use. More importantly clearing rights are not always straightforward, which compounds the problem. By making the process of seeking permission convenient and securing rights instant, the end user is much more likely to transact. By achieving this, the news industry will: • Make securing permissions easier for the user • Increase revenue opportunities from permissions for rights holders • Enhance the perceived value of news content • Improve copyright compliance and lessen the need to police and prosecute. Ross McCaul is senior manager, Business Development and Commercial with Copyright Agency Limited

5.5.3 Ethics Through the Code of Ethics we have established a set of standards for Australian journalists which are accepted throughout the industry. While these have stood the test of time, the radical changes in the way we work will mean we must continue to examine best practice. Repeated studies have suggested that the respect and trust with which we are regarded in the community has eroded over the years. While understanding that “public trust” surveys will always exaggerate negative reactions, we must strive to earn and zealously protect our standing in the community.

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5.5.4 Training As already mentioned in this report, the Media Alliance is developing a full program of training modules to help equip journalists with the understanding and skills required to prosper in the new environment of news. Thus far we have rolled out introductory modules in Melbourne and Sydney and this will expand to involve the rest of Australia and NZ as the program matures.

5.5.5 Research The Media Alliance is constantly engaged in research projects, either in our own right or in partnership with academic institutions around the country. The Future of Journalism project has involved two major reports, a roadshow of journalism conferences that has crisscrossed the country and is now into its third year. We are also pursuing a major research project into the changing nature of newsgathering in partnership with the universities of Sydney and New South Wales in a project backed by the Australian Research Council. These projects provide the reference about the industry as a whole, here and overseas, and stimulate industry-wide discussion about the scale and pace of change in journalism and new ways of pursuing the craft. For the last word, let’s leave it to Sean Hogben, a dual Walkley Award-winning print journalist – and a third generation of his family to work in Australian newspapers – who has enthusiastically repurposed himself to face the new landscape of news.

From hot metal in the print room to live streaming everywhere Sean Hogben I am both the past and, I hope, the future of journalism. I wrote my first stories on fives and stone subbed the TV programs on a metal chase filled with still warm slugs of type. The scent of molten lead was heavy in the air. Nowadays I make video, mostly for web, shooting on an HD camera recording to memory cards. I record my audio on wireless mics and can FTP raw digital footage to an editor anywhere in the world. Mostly, I cut my own stories using a non-linear editing program modelled on the principles of a mechanical film edit desk. Some things change but others don’t. The story is paramount, as is getting it first. Delivery is just that, whether by digital video stream to your phone or a wire wrapped bundle of papers flung to a street corner “boy” wearing a coinfilled leather satchel. I’m lucky, I’ve always enjoyed technological change. From hot metal to photoset to paste up, Photoshop and DTP, to manual HTML coding, then CMS, Flash animations and live streaming video. My first TV news story was shot on film, I cut radio news grabs on tape and stuck them together with sticky tape. Now it’s tapeless, wireless and seamless. Yet

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nothing replaces the story, nor the ability to spot it, get it and sell it to the editor. Every one of these changes in production and delivery required the exercise of new technical skills. Apart from the basics of shorthand and typing, and later the use of the first “dumb” computer terminals to file, sub and later lay out pages, media companies have never provided me with adequate training. I’ve had to teach myself just about everything. You would think media companies would want a multi skilled workforce but in my experience, advanced training is reserved for company loyalists, whether it be in new applications or grand tours through the outposts of global groups to absorb executive “learnings”. The stars will always prosper because media proprietors are like Hollywood studios in the 40s, they want to own them, trade them and bask in their reflected glory. But the majority of media content is produced by journeymen and women who today are expected to make the whole movie themselves. So be it. If you want to survive you must train yourself. Pick something you are interested in, look online and you will probably find a score of training alternatives. Back yourself. Digital

technology has made low-cost tools available to everyone. Were you always in command of vocabulary and literary excellence? No, you learned it. Likewise you can learn to compose and light a shot, record a grab, cut a sequence and compress it for streaming. The tools to do so are within reach; a full-tilt pro outfit now costs a tenth of what it did a decade ago. I firmly believe we are close to the age of the media collective, where both young and old hands combine their skills and gear to produce good journalism cost-effectively. The days of the gigantic manufacturing chain of 20th century media are gone, as are the times of being a creative cog in the big machine. Your subs’ desk or bureau might be about to be closed but that doesn’t mean an end to stories, or the audience for them. I enjoy learning new skills and, in that, surely I’m not alone. It’s why, after 36 years in the game, I can still make a buck at it. Sean Hogben did his cadetship on the Sydney Daily Mirror and won two Walkleys for Fairfax websites. He produces editorial video and provides media consultancy


LIFE IN THE CLICKSTREAM: THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM

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Life in the clickstream: The future of journalism report  

This is the second edition of the "Future of Journalism" report from the Media Alliance. Australia's union for the people who inform and ent...

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