Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Hole the Front Page
Will this new documentary, 'Page One', do for journalism what Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' did for the global movement on climate change? The two films are from the same production company. Both suggest time is running short for their respective subjects - mainstream media journalism and planet earth. Both carry the seed of hope. Both suggest time may run out before those hopes can be realised.
'Page One' focuses on one year in the fortunes of the world's most prestigious English language newspaper, The New York Times. But the issues it explores relate just as much to Australian broadsheets, which are struggling to survive amid the combined onslaught of declining readership, the explosion of social media, the migration of advertising to other platforms and the disaggregation of disintermediation of news.
Certainly, the news that hundreds of sub-editing jobs at Australia's last two quality broadsheets - Fairfax's The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald - are being culled in the name of developing "quality journalism" suggests that commercial media organisations, if they are to survive, will be much leaner. But the question must be at what point, in the pursuit of keeping shareholders happy,do these last remaining brands in quality journalism destroy what little substance they have left.
My own view is that it is too late. If Fairfax really wanted to save money and invest in quality journalism, it would not be cutting the jobs of senior sub-editors and switching those positions to its half-owned AAP offshoot, the sweatshop Pagemasters - where the subs receive much worse pay and conditions. It would be stopping print production and distribution (thereby saving significantly more money), going completely digital and spending their savings on journalists.
In the meantime, get ready for lots more typos on page one and page two and page three and....
Posted by Mr D at 9:58 PM