New opportunities, new
chapter set out the many challenges faced by the media sector from the
transformation to digital, which has had particularly negative effects on the
traditional media and its ability to produce public interest journalism. This chapter
looks at some of the opportunities that new technologies offer for innovation
and diversity in the media sector, and the development of new audiences.
also notes a range of positive signs for media and news sector, including the
way philanthropic funding and new partnerships across sectors have provided a
welcome fillip to a sector under pressure.
Opportunities for media
consumers and producers
In May 2017, Mr
Paul Murphy, the Chief Executive of the Media, Entertainment & Arts
Alliance (MEAA), observed that there had been a general upturn in audiences for
media in Australia:
it is important to remember that the audience is growing. Subscriber numbers
are growing. Readership is growing. If you look at the most recent survey by
Roy Morgan Research, you see the number of Australians who read or accessed the
newspapers' content via print, web or app in an average seven-day period in
March 2013 was 19.9 million. Four years later the same basket of mastheads
was recording a total audience of 22 million. While print use is declining,
digital, web and app readership has been growing and boosting the local
also noted that lower barriers to entry, and the globalisation of markets, had
enriched the local media landscape, though these developments had not
compensated for the massive losses to journalism from restructuring in
disruption that has been brought about by technology in traditional media has
also created opportunities for new entrants, and it is important to remember
that. In Australia, established news brands like The Guardian, the
Huffington Post and the Daily Mail have local digital editions produced
by Australian journalists, and they have recently been joined by The New
York Times. They provide a welcome boost, as do BuzzFeed and new local
entrants like The New Daily and the academic website The Conversation. These
add important elements to the local media landscape and have contributed, in
some cases, extraordinarily valuable additional depth to particular areas of
reporting, but none of them have the resources to replace the journalism at
scale that we are losing.
Ryle, the Director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
(ICIJ), observed that the corollary to the collapse of traditional models in
the media was that innovative approaches would be adopted:
crisis creates innovation. If you want to change things, you have to allow
people to innovate. And they will innovate. The technology is racing ahead of
journalism at the moment. There will be new players.
Mr Simon Crerar,
Editor-in-Chief of Buzzfeed, and Ms Tory Maguire, Editor-in-Chief of HuffPost
Australia, both spoke of the many opportunities for new and innovative
companies in the current media landscape. Mr Crerar commented on this recent
[In 2002] there was literally ABC, News
Corp and Fairfax...there was certainly no Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Guardian, The
New York Times, Junkie or Pedestrian. And of course there was no Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. Now it is this incredibly diverse, fragmented
landscape, where your traditional players are under a lot of threat... Certainly
we do not know what it is going to look like in 10 or 15 years time, but the
audience is fragmented. So, for brands like ours, there is a great opportunity
to do reporting, important reporting, that wins hearts and minds in these
Howden, Editor, Crinkling News, suggested that the modern media environment
would support smaller, nimble publications working to get the most out of small
is that the future of journalism is more in these smaller, niche publications
because they just do not have the same sorts of overheads that we have seen in
places like News Corp and Fairfax, and that the very large media organisations
have had for many decades. You do not actually require huge amounts of money to
keep them going.
developing new audiences
There can be
little doubt that aggregators such as Google and Facebook have significantly
boosted access to news and information for the average consumer. Mr Jason
Pellegrino, Managing Director, Google Australia, highlighted the role Google's
search engine played in both directing audiences to news content and sharing
revenue with content creators:
queries from users are seeking news and Google directs billions of visitors to
news websites around the world every month. Some Google users head directly to
Google News, a platform which helps to connect local and national news content
from more than 80,000 publishers, including over 1,000 Australian publishers,
with a global audience. In this way, we have a direct interest to ensure our
products support and assist in the creation of quality journalism, not just
because free and independent media is a matter of vital public interest but
because we seek to meet the needs of Australian users for relevant and useful
information. This is particularly valuable for small and less well-known
publishers or those seeking to enter the market. An independent journalist or a
small publisher is today far more able to reach an audience and generate
revenue than in years past. To that end, our display advertising tools, for
instance, help web publishers, including news publishers, to manage the
implementation and ongoing placement of their websites, helping to drive their
revenue. Publishers create content on their own sites and use Google's
advertising platforms to earn revenue from ads that are displayed on their
sites. This occurs on a revenue-share basis where, on average, 70 per cent of
display ad revenues are shared with partners.
outlined some of the positive benefits for consumers and new entities that had
entered the market:
has had a transformative impact on the reach and distribution of information,
including news, around the world. The ease by which individuals and
organisations can now share information online means that there is a much
richer ecosystem of news for Australians, and it means that this news can reach
a much broader group of people–at a fraction of the cost of distribution than
it once did. Community leaders are able to share and promote information at the
community and neighbourhood level immediately, longstanding news organisations
are able to expand and reach new audiences at minimal additional cost, and
enterprising new media companies have begun to emerge that leverage the
distribution and scale advantages of the Internet. You have recently heard
directly from some of these new entities, including BuzzFeed and Huffington
Post. Facebook, as an online platform, has been part of this broader trend of
the democratisation of information and news.
A number of
witnesses noted that aggregators provide access to huge new audiences for media
organisations, particularly for smaller outlets that might otherwise not enjoy
the reach. For example, Mr JJ Eastwood, Chief Executive Officer, HuffPost
look at the platforms as partners in a lot of ways; certainly, they are taking
a lot of money out of the ecosystem, but they also drive a lot of traffic to
our owned and operated sites. Particularly for businesses like Huffington Post
that are very mobile-led–we run 70 per cent of our audiences on mobile. Most of
the platforms dominate mobile; so Facebook, Twitter, Google and Instagram are
Mrs Alice Almeida, an experienced digital advertising strategy professional,
spoke extremely positively about the opportunities offered by aggregators to
publishers and consumers:
think that a lot of publishers wouldn't be where they are without the support
of the likes of Google. Just to highlight that: last year Google contributed
35.5 per cent of traffic to the news and media industry...This behaviour we are
starting to see across all different Australians–from young to old. Publishers
need Google to work with them for that reason.
other thing is that a lot of the traffic is being driven from social, as we
have touched on before. Facebook is not just a social network where you hear
about what your family and friends are doing and all the thousands of baby
pictures that seem to be coming in a newsfeed; it is now also becoming a news
and content feed. A lot of publishers are now tapping into audiences by putting
their news and articles within Facebook. I know that a lot of the time I visit
certain websites that I wouldn't have visited purely because I saw an article
on Facebook or Google.
Michael West, the Principal of Westpub, spoke of the power of social media to
communicate with the audience he established during prior employment with a
masthead publication, as well as to connect with a large and engaged new readership:
already had a rusted-on audience at Fairfax and I had a redundancy cheque to
put into this thing. I could not have done it without those two things and the
public support of people on social media. That is an advantage, because social
media is free and it is quite a good distribution model, provided you have
enough Twitter and Facebook followers, and so on. There are a lot of variables.
I think it would be very hard for other people to do it successfully.
Mr Crerar told
the committee he considered aggregators to be distribution platforms that were
particularly suited to offer innovative approaches to new organisations:
some ways, we see Facebook and Google as newsagents. Newspaper businesses have
always built their business on the distribution method. Our distribution method
is social networks, search engines...But future opportunities for businesses like
ours, which are unencumbered by the existing way of doing things, are gigantic.
Yes, traditional businesses are going to shrink down the line. This is an
epochal moment that will take a decade or two to pan out, but there are
tremendous opportunities for us and businesses that are native to these
platforms and are building their business on them.
new business models
that the committee discussed the development of new business model in its
previous chapter on challenges facing the media sector, some evidence pointed
to recent positive growth for traditional media, both in terms of increased online
subscription rates for some traditional mastheads, and through more effective
monetisation of content and diversification of revenue.
September 2017 The Future Newsroom report found:
digital news media outlets have adapted to this new economic environment and
have adopted a hybrid model to finance their journalism. This means more than
one or two methods of funding are relied upon to be profitable. The most common
revenue raising methods that form part of a hybrid media funding model include:
advertising (display and native); building databases to sell access to them;
hosting events related to an outlet’s digital media content; developing new
media products based on market research; crowdsourcing funds and philanthropy
and, the least used option, erecting paywalls.
digital newsrooms, the most important source of revenue is native advertising.
This is paid ads that match the news outlet’s page content, overall design and
is consistent with its platform behaviour.
reliance on native advertising means media organisations are having to think
differently about the relationship between journalism and advertising, especially
about issues of transparency and audience trust.
importance of audience trust is not just a question of editorial credibility
but of native advertising credibility: if people don’t trust the news content,
they are unlikely to trust its advertising.
Hywood, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Fairfax Media,
outlined the ways in which his company had met the challenge of monetisation:
response to these pressures we have reshaped our business yet continue to
innovate and invest deeply in quality journalism. We remain one of the few
providers of at scale, quality journalism in Australia, with over 1,000 editorial
staff across our metro and regional publications. For some historical context
to this I think it is important to note that in the 1960s there were 75
reporters at The Sydney Morning Herald and fewer at The Age;
now there are more than 300. In the 1970s there were 25 reporters at The
Australian Financial Review; now there are over 100. We have also explored
models around publishing, such as leveraging our audience to launch emerging
businesses—for example, our events business, Domain, Stan and Drive, which in
turn create the earnings to help continue quality independent journalism.
Difficult decisions have been made to create a sustainable publishing model,
the result of which is a smaller but fit-for-purpose publishing business.
suggested that, given the size of the Australian market, subscription-only
models would probably struggle to be sustainable for the larger, traditional
However, the MEAA also acknowledged–as did other submitters and witnesses–indications
of positive growth from traditional mastheads locally, with Fairfax titles having
around 225 thousand subscribers in May last year, and that subscription revenue
at The Australian is now greater than from advertising.
the committee that swelling subscriber numbers and positive trends in revenue,
both here and internationally, demonstrated 'that Australians value and are
willing to pay for new content'.
also pointed to certain trends that indicate a shift in consumer behaviour that
suggests a willingness to pay for quality news:
is that readers are smarter than [expecting news to be free], and they know
what high-quality journalism is, and they're willing to pay for it, but you
have to ask them. That is the point. Every time that The Washington Post tighten
their paywalls, subscriptions go up.
Mr Campbell Reid,
the Director of Corporate Affairs and Editorial Management for News Corp
Australia, commented that publishers were adopting new strategies to leverage the
large volume of consumers accessing content through Google to increase subscription
interest is to have people consume a lot of material and have a good experience
when they do it so that when they click on a story or a piece of content, they
see that piece of content and click onto another one and click onto another
one. That's in direct opposition, if you like, to a newspaper publisher, who
doesn't want you to click on and on and on. It wants you stop and read that
story and subscribe to that story. Google had a regime which was called 'first
click free', which meant that if you clicked on a Wall Street Journal story
you had to be able to see a certain element of that content for free before you
got to a point where you were being asked to pay for it. By changing that
regime—in Australia we're currently experimenting what level, how much, do you
have for free and at what point do you meet the paywall. By changing that
dynamic, that has in some of our newspapers meant that a newspaper that was
getting no subscriptions at all through Google search is suddenly getting 10
subscriptions a week through Google search.
Schulze, the Managing Director for Australia/New Zealand of Standard Media
Index (SMI), also noted that, even if Australian newspapers faced significant
ongoing challenges, they had managed to monetise their content more
successfully than traditional media overseas:
newspaper groups have been leading the world in terms of monetising their
content online. SMI now produces data for the US, UK and New Zealand market and
we can clearly see that relative to these other countries Australia's news
media industry is gaining more revenue from selling ads around their newspapers'
websites than in any other country. Last year, the digital sales teams of News
Corp, Fairfax, the old APN and Western Australian newspapers sold to media
agencies advertising worth more than $200 million—and that is excluding the
programmatic bookings..., so the figure is actually going to be slightly higher.
As a result, digital now represents 23 per cent of total agency revenues to the
news media industry which highlights the huge progress the industry has made to
transform what was once just a print-only industry.
to the committee suggested that there was still life in the traditional printed
medium for particular markets, despite the overall trajectory of declining
circulation. For example, Mr Hywood told the committee that he stood by his
comments of the previous month, that 'the model we have developed involves
continuing to print our publications daily for some years yet'.
Mr Reid shared this view:
have to be a completely naive person to say that the magic is going to wind
back and we're going to sell as many print newspapers in the future as we did
in the past, but it's up to us to re-imagine, recreate and recalibrate what the
print product is. We shouldn't forget that 16 million Australians consume our
content. Millions of Australians read printed newspapers and millions of
Australians buy things after seeing the advertising in printed newspapers.
They're an incredibly effective platform and remain so.
Ms Costello, Chief
Executive Officer of Schwartz Media, suggested that the printed Saturday Paper
had found a niche outside the online 24/7 news cycle of the mainstream media:
Saturday Paper was
established because we sincerely believed that newspapers weren't dead but the
model was completely broken. How does it exist with the internet breaking news?
There's a print cycle involved in producing a newspaper, whereas online it can
be a 20-minute turnaround.... We looked at all the models. It took [Schwartz] two
years to work out what The Saturday Paper would look like, pulling apart
newspapers and leaving out things that the internet could do better.
Ms Howden spoke of the value of
maintaining newspapers aimed at young people in printed formats, including
internationally, as it improved their engagement and learning outcomes.
evidence suggested that traditional titles had been able to improve their
business models when incorporating the power of mobile technologies into their
digital products and advertising strategies. For example, Google Australia
course, through several channels, traditional media businesses have already
diversified and leveraged their longstanding, highly regarded brands to build
online advertising businesses with great success.
Australian advertising successes such as Carsales and Seek have grown from
burgeoning start-ups at the beginning of this century, Fairfax Media and News
Corporation have likewise established highly successful cross-channel
advertising businesses such as Domain and RealEstate.com.au.
international context, the committee notes encouraging evidence suggesting an
upturn in subscriptions following the 2016 Presidential election in the US,
which was riven with contested and overtly fake news stories in the media, as
well as attacks on traditional media for being 'crooked', biased or delivering
'fake news'. The committee understands that, in the wake of this election, The
New York Times and The Washington Post both grew their subscription
rates to unprecedented levels, with the former having around 2 million digital
subscriptions in mid-2017.
or privately funded models
received good evidence that tax breaks encouraging philanthropic or privately
funded models underwriting the financial sustainability of media organisations
had revitalised public interest journalism in some parts of the world,
particularly in the US.
speaking, this is not a new phenomenon, as foundation grants and philanthropic
trusts have given financial stability to a number of longstanding media
organisations. For example, in the UK, the Scott Trust was founded in 1936 'secure
the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity as a
quality national newspaper without party affiliation'.
There are also a number of examples from the American context, notably the
Poynter Institute, a non-profit journalism education and training centre that owns
the Tampa Bay Times (previously the St Petersburg Times) and the PolitiFact
fact-checking service. Additionally, in the US, the magazine Harper's (founded
in 1850) has been backed by a Foundation from 1980, and the First Church of
Christ Science's publication, The Christian Science Monitor is backed by
a foundation and donations.
submission to the committee made by a group of four academics highlighted a
number of other US institutions that support journalists and publishers: directly
through grants to cover the cost of particular reporting projects, including:
- The Pulitzer Centre on Crisis
- The International Reporting
- The Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women
Journalists Grant from the International Women's Media Foundation; and
- The International Centre for
Journalists, underwritten by the Knight Foundation.
Dr Bill Birnbauer, Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Journalism at the School of Media, Film
and Journalism, Monash University, outlined the revitalised US media landscape in
United States I estimate there are about 150 non-profit centres doing such
journalism; others suggest there are 200. Most were formed since the global
financial crisis of 2007-09.
investigative reporting centres vary in size from two or three journalists up
to 70 reporters, editors, digital and broadcast producers, development and
engagement experts, data journalists and fundraisers. The budgets of the
biggest centres are about $10 million a year; smaller centres less than
$100,000. Non-profit investigative reporting centres see their work as a form
of public service.
confirmed that the US model has seen a revival of good journalism:
rely on philanthropy to pay for journalism. I guess the reason that's
significant here is that you don't have tax deductions for journalism in
Australia, whereas you do in America. There are dozens of organisations like
ours that are basically doing work on a domestic level in America: the Center
for Public Integrity, ProPublica and organisations like that. Then there are a
few organisations like ours that do work out of America internationally. But
we're probably, at this point, the best known. It has basically allowed public
interest journalism to flourish, because people can get a tax deduction for
what we do.
Dr Birnbauer suggested that these organisations could be funded by foundations, donations
from philanthropists or readers, or through gaining minor revenue from
advertising, story sales, events, advertising and subscriptions. He observed
that tax exemptions were gained under a broad education category in US tax
laws, rather than by being recognised as media outlets.
the use of privately-funded models to underwrite the financial sustainability of
organisations producing public interest journalism has been limited. There have
been a few examples:
- The Global Mail, an online publication funded by
the internet entrepreneur Graeme Wood, which operated from 2012 to 2014;
- The New Daily, launched in 2013 and
part-funded by industry superannuation funds; and
- Schwartz Media, which publishes The Saturday
Paper and The Monthly, backed by the company owned by publisher Morry Schwartz. 
Park, Chief Executive Officer, Walkley Foundation, spoke of the potential for
the not-for-profit model to revitalise the Australian media landscape:
has the potential to build not-for-profit journalism, much like the sector that
has emerged very successfully in the United States. There you see a range from
national organisations like ProPublica to those that cover states like
Wisconsin or cities like Pittsburgh or topics like worker safety. These
organisations, although often tiny, punch way above their weight. They're
winning major journalism awards and they're scooping up the best journalists.
They have built a whole new ecosystem of highly ethical, technology driven,
collaborative journalism. And the collaboration in particular is fuelling some
real outcomes. Because these nonprofits can act nimbly—after all, they are
start-ups—they're experimenting with new ways to engage with readers and build
audience and find revenue. That's all possible for us to do here.
Some doubts were
raised regarding the ability of Australian media organisations to be
sustainable through philanthropic donations alone, given both the finite number
of potential donors in Australia, as well as the more established culture of
philanthropy in the US.
use of tax incentives to encourage philanthropic support for not-for-profit or
low-profit media organisations by the Commonwealth is discussed later in this
indicated that the crisis in traditional forms of media had led to the
formation of innovative partnerships between media players, or between media
organisations and universities or journalism centres. The committee deals with
partnerships between news media and aggregators in its next chapter.
Dr Birnbauer noted that stories undertaken by journalists working in the not-for-profit
media sector in the US often appeared in traditional media such as, among
others, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall
Street Journal, and on public broadcasters. He argued that new
not-for-profit forms did not challenge mainstream media, but complemented the
'diminished ability of many mainstream media to produce serious journalism'.
implications of this were drawn out by Mr Ryle, who outlined how his organisation
collaborated across titles and platforms with a great deal of flexibility:
by bringing media organisations around the world together, to work on stories
that cross borders. Here in Australia, we work with Four Corners on a
regular basis, with The Guardian Australia and also with the Financial
Review. We are open to working with pretty much anyone. We also work with
the BBC, Le Monde in France and The New York Times. We find
stories that can possibly have a global impact and bring them all together to
work together. That's what we do....We basically bring the story to the media
organisations, but we rely on each media organisation to do their own work.
They can decide what's important for their constituents and what isn't
important. We don't tell them what to do. We have no editorial control, but we
also do our own journalism. Where we differ from WikiLeaks is that, when we get
big datasets like the Panama Papers, we don’t just publish every single detail
on the web. We do publish extracted details, but we do make all of the
documents available to the journalists, and we allow the journalists to do
journalism. We basically are a service industry for the media around the world.
A number of
submissions pointed to innovative partnerships between media and universities,
not only in conducting journalistic activities, but also in training future
journalists. Dr Birnbauer noted about 20 per cent of not-for-profit journalism
centres in the US had an affiliation with a university.
Latimore, a collaborator with Indigenous X, highlighted the opportunities for
Indigenous stories to enter the broader public sphere through new kinds of
addition to providing a platform for these diverse voices to be heard
throughout and across First Nations audiences, IndigenousX also provides a
'bridge' for Black perspectives to enter the broader public sphere via
collaborative publishing partnerships such as the one we share with Guardian
Australia. It is my opinion that this is a unique and important development in
what is termed the news ecology, and I believe it would do Australia well for
more non-indigenous news organisations to look to that relationship for
improving their own approach to, and representation of, the broader Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander public.
Ketchell, the Editor of The Conversation, spoke of how his organisation had
grown from an Australian site founded in Melbourne in 2011 to an
internationally trusted network of organisations employing around 100
journalists and partnering with more than 40,000 academics around the world. He
told the committee how The Conversation leveraged expertise in the university
sector, from which the organisation also received funding, to improve information
in the public domain on newsworthy topics:
is based on trying to ensure that experts are engaged in communicating with the
public when issues arise in the public. If something significant happens, we
will try to find an expert to talk about that particular issue. The way we work
is that the academics are not paid by The Conversation; they write for The
Conversation without payment. Basically the idea is that academics, as part of
the work they do for Australian universities, have an obligation to communicate
their research findings and their knowledge broadly within the community, and
we provide a vehicle, a means, for them to communicate their ideas and their
knowledge. We run a quite sizeable newsroom staffed by more than 20
professional full-time editors and journalists, and their role is to monitor
what's happening in the news and talk to academics and ensure that they're
engaged in commenting on those issues.
was also impressed with the Walkley Foundation's approach to fostering
innovation in the industry. The committee heard how that organisation had
encouraged positive relationships between aggregators and publishers, and
established mentoring programs for young journalists and a journalism
innovation program is for all kinds of journalistic innovators, and we are by
no means focused only on not for profits. A long list of 110 projects went
through our incubator this year, and five eventually received seed funding.
Among those were projects such as a Canberra reporter who's thinking outside
the square—or rather, outside the press gallery—and using crowdsourcing to make
the parliamentary register of interests into a searchable database. This is
encouraging collaboration among journalists and publishers and it's a project
that will also help everyday people make sense of all the data that's
available. Another project is about unlocking ABS data. Another was for a news
site for young people to help them connect with what's happening in the news
and to help them engage and make a difference in the world. And we could
support a lot more if we had the money, both with funding and with the
essential business and start-up mentoring. There are great ideas for journalism
out there, all ready to be born. None of them on their own will be a magic
bullet, and some of them will fail, but public policy also needs to show its
own preparedness–dare I say its own agility–to try, fail and try again.
of opinion and voices
A number of
submitters made the point that the digital age offered more opportunity for a
diversity of opinion to be expressed than traditional media has offered in the
The Digital Industry Group Inc. (DIGI) provided an overview in its submission:
internet and digital technology have fundamentally changed many industries,
including media companies and news publishers. The rise of micro publishers on
the web, where anyone with an internet connection can publish information on
events, politics, and ideas, has empowered more voices and offered more views
in turn making the media ecosystem more pluralistic and democratic. Consumers
have also been beneficiaries of this changing media landscape as it has enabled
them to consume a greater variety of content across different platforms at the
time of their choosing.
Impact of Journalism Project (CIJP) noted that new platforms were offering new
forums for under-represented groups to share news and tell their stories,
particularly highlighting new Indigenous media:
groups are making constructive use of new media to be heard. In particular, our
research identified 150 Indigenous-controlled news sources including legacy
print and broadcast media but also including a flourishing network of new and
social media outlets. Some of these serve particular communities; others are
issues or personality based. Together, they are breaking news and distributing
original content. One of the best known, IndigenousX, has partnered with
Guardian Australia. This increase in voice for a neglected segment of
Australian society is a shift in the ecology of news media in Australia.
It was also
submitted in evidence that 'citizen journalists' are using new platforms to
tell stories and reach audiences–although it was also acknowledged that this
would not replace the functions lost from traditional media completely. The CIJP
generally, our evidence suggests that citizen journalism will continue to be
part of the mix, and is increasingly powerful and important–but it is not
enough. It works best as an adjunct to professional journalism, rather than on
its own...Citizen journalism is largely about the commentary and opinion function
of journalism, and that is important – but not enough. Without facts, opinion
is hollow and commentary impotent.
submissions also noted the increasing prevalence of 'hyperlocal' sites, or where
communities were using social media to fill service gaps.
The CIJP suggested that this was a positive, but limited, approach:
suburban and edge of urban areas, community groups, local governments and local
police are using social media to fill gaps, and some of these activities and
outlets have become valuable parts of local news ecologies. This can empower
individuals and community organisations, but does not fill all the gaps that
have resulted from the exodus in local media.
media companies highlighted areas they were able to explore that had not been addressed
by traditional media, such as coverage of areas of interest to young
Australians under 30, indigenous matters, mental health news, and LGBTI
Fran Baum AO, the Director of the Southgate Institute for Health, Society and
Equity, drew the committee's attention to the 'flourishing network of new and
social media outlets' that offered Indigenous-controlled news services,
including breaking news and original content.
new willingness to pay
A number of
witnesses and submitters spoke of their perception that consumers would always
be drawn to, and willing to pay for, good quality journalism, regardless of the
platform it appeared upon. For example, Ms Maguire told the committee:
I take a
very old-fashioned view of journalism–it is all about the quality of the story.
It does not matter what platform it appears on; it does not matter whether it
is a listicle, a 45-minute feature video or a 3,000 word magazine piece–the
consumers are looking for quality in the story telling.
submitters noted the success of the Washington Post in driving up subscriptions
through a combination of tightening access to content via paywalls and ensuring
the news content excelled by investing heavily in journalism. DIGI noted:
the Washington Post Jeff Bezos recently made comments at a conference on the
Future of Newspapers where he attributed the success of turning the Washington
Post's fortunes around to several factors including hiring an additional 140
reporters and focussing on the readers. 
also highlighted the importance of maintaining quality in cultivating audiences
and driving subscriptions:
are writing, be riveting, be right and ask people to pay. That's important. In
a world where you're asking people to pay for content, you have to be riveting
and you have to be right. That content has to have a value that users don't
perceive that they can get elsewhere, and that's incredibly important.
suggested that there was a large audience for the kind of in-depth, considered analysis
of significant issues that Schwartz Media provides:
what has happened is that the Fairfaxes of the world are not producing as often
the journalism that we are producing. Readers have turned away from those sort
of titles to the type of news that we do.
It is clear
that the transition towards aggregation and digital modes of delivery for news
has been accompanied by some positive effects, both for media providers and for
media businesses, while revenues and business models have collapsed, there have
been positive changes. New technologies and platforms have created
unprecedentedly large audiences for new and established companies; there are
now much lower barriers to entry for innovative start-ups, which has
democratised media, so individuals can become publishers and find audiences
the benefits have been substantial. They now have the power to access more
information than ever before, and for relevant information to be brought to
their attention by aggregators, for the most part at no cost at all. In some
cases this is an incredibly powerful tool that connects people with information
they need. In others, it facilitates the rapid spread of misinformation, and
may enable people to hear only their own perspective rather than be challenged
by a range of views.
chapters have looked at the challenges and opportunities facing the news media
sector, both in Australia and globally. The next chapter discusses some of the
ways aggregators are working with the news media, after which it discusses the
idea of a levy on the operations of aggregators.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page