Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Priority Media

It's a question that needs to be asked in Australia: where is the quality going? On Woolly Days Derek Barry has an(other) excellent post on whether any of Australia's main media outlets actually care about the quality of what they presented. Last night on Media Watch on the ABC host Jonathan Holmes covered the same story, and it included interviews with Roy Greenslade (Media Columnist, The Guardian), Mike van Niekerk (Editor-in-Chief Online, Fairfax Media) and Eric Beecher (Publisher, Crikey & Business Spectator).

A comment by Mike van Niekerk comparing printed and electronic media caught my ear:
Mike van Niekerk: I think they speak to different audiences. They are slightly different audiences. In fact I can tell you that the percentage of people that read both the print edition and the online edition is roughly about 25%.

Jonathan Holmes: The concern I guess would be though, if your web pages are the look of the future, if you like, the developing medium. And the newspaper is the one that's on the way down. If that's the case, does that mean that quality journalism is on the way down? Does that mean that funding the Canberra bureaus and the foreign bureaus and doing the investigative journalism is on the way down?

Mike van Niekerk: You know if that were to be the case, that would be the time that I would get out of this business because that would take all the fun out of it for me.

Well, that makes me feel better - until I was confronted by this image when I went to the "AdelaideNow" (The Advertiser/The Sunday Mail) website today:
The media in Adelaide is saturated enough with AFL news as it is (they love their Australian Rules here a little too much - to the point that it's disturbing), but former stars' bust-ups take precedent over 10,000 dead in Burma? Large picture of Grant Hackett's "belly"? Side note: he's just swum 10km, for crying out loud. Give over.

But that's a News Limited source. What about Fairfax and the Sydney Morning Herald?

Wayne, Scarlett, Kylie, Tom, Gazza, Sophie, Tom. The Burma story is only saying whether there's any Australian casualties, the article on Keating is just reviewing a column of his from the SMH, 'Road rage' is from reading a police media release and the 'Dungeon children' is reproducing international stories. If there's quality journalism there, it's difficult to see. Saying that the printed and electronic media customers are too different doesn't mean that there shouldn't be easily accessible stories with real substance. Those five stories about people in the entertainment industry take the width of the entire web page?

So, er, where/what is the money (that van Niekerk says they're still making) going to?

And just for laughs, what's the Guardian's (from England) website look like?

Hmmm. So,
1. Are Australia electronic media consumers that much more celebrity and sport-focussed than the print consumers?
2. Do the Australian media outlets expect them to have that orientation or judge stories by the number of clicks on each, then pander to those tastes?
3. Do the Australian media realise that serious journalism can be presented on their websites, too?

No comments: