Daily BulletinDaily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor

It’s been a week for sad news about the traditional media messengers, the so-called Fourth Estate.

First news that the British paper, The Independent, will cease publishing as a print product. Second, we read about a 2013 Bain & Co report commissioned by Fairfax that meticulously sets out how to kill off its newspapers and quality journalism.

If you will indulge me for a moment, I know a little about both. I was offered a job on The Indy’s launch team in 1986. I turned it down (going to The Sunday Times instead), but there’s no doubt it was one of the most exciting times to be in Fleet Street.

The founders had assembled one of the most talented group of journalists who were drawn to an independent journalism project. At the time there was a yawning gap for such a paper. The Telegraph and The Times were way out on the right of the political landscape, while The Guardian occupied lefty-land. The Independent would be centrist and the paper for thinking folks. Its launch slogan was perfect: “The Independent. It is. Are you?”

Readers flocked to the paper and by 1989 it peaked at 400,000 sales a day. But within a year its rivals changed editors and redirected their papers into The Indy’s centre-land. The gap was now crowded, and The Indy’s sales slid from there on.

In 1995 I was approached to take over as Editor of The Indy. I told the new proprietor, David Montgomery, that I would not take the job partly because I did not see a long-term future for the paper. I went instead to edit The London Observer.

My timing was out, by 20 years. The Indy’s life expectancy was extended in 2010 when Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev bought it for £1. It became a vanity publishing project for the cash-rich Russian but last week he too accepted the sad business facts.

But, let’s not forget, even with The Indy’s demise as a paper (it will struggle on as an online service), there remains in the UK a huge choice of outlets. The reverse is true in Australia, and we are left with one dominant player, the NewsCorp group of papers which largely operate with one voice. Plurality of voice and choice is the problem in Australia.

While editing The Age from 2004 the primary message from the Management was: just slash costs faster than revenues fall. And the very journalists that used to define Fairfax were seen by that management as the problem. They weren’t seen as an asset by the company in the way, say, The Guardian or New York Times see their journalists. For Fairfax they were simply a cost to shed.

Fairfax has been badly let down by its management, who are largely bereft of an editorial vision. And since they had no clue, they outsourced that job to management consultants Bain & Co, who recommended replacing well-paid reporters with trainees to reduce costs.

When I left The Age I was determined to think about how to address where people will in future get access to quality journalism they could rely upon.

The Conversation was conceived to address that problem. And offer a solution. Not just for Australia, but globally. In place of dumbed-down journalism, we now have a “global newsroom” of 30,000 academic specialist authors who (we think) deliver the quality of information that you deserve. Each author really knows what they are writing about. Rather than making it up after a quick Google search as is the case in most stretched newspaper newsrooms.

So yes, a sad week for journalism. But as my colleagues UK Editor Stephen Khan and QUT Prof Brian McNair write, there is a future for quality information and journalism in the UK and Australia. And we are part of it.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/bad-news-at-fairfax-and-the-independent-but-quality-journalism-will-roll-on-54951

Don't stand so close to me – understanding consent can help with those tricky social distancing moments

arrow_forward

For First Nations people, coronavirus has meant fewer services, separated families and over-policing: new report

arrow_forward

We need good information to make decisions, especially when things go wrong

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

$1.8 billion boost for local government

The Federal Liberal and Nationals Government will deliver a $1.8 billion boost for road and community projects through local governments across Australia.   The package of support will help lo...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison press conference

PRIME MINISTER: This is a tough day for Australia, a very tough day. Almost 600,000 jobs have been lost, every one of them devastating for those Australians, for their families, for their commun...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

BOOST FOR BUSHFIRE RECOVERY

Local economic recovery plans will help towns and regions hit by bushfires get back on their feet as part of a new $650 million package of support from the Morrison Government.   As part of th...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Office expert: Don't bring your staff back to work until you have done these things

With lockdown restrictions gradually being eased across the country, Australian workplaces are looking at the types of changes needed in order to meet new health and wellness requirements post-l...

Tess Sanders Lazarus - avatar Tess Sanders Lazarus

Major health and wellness brands sign-on to open at Yamanto Central

While COVID restrictions start to ease across the country, plans for Queensland’s newest shopping centre, Yamanto Central, ramp up. Due for completion in the first half of 2021, Yamanto Cent...

Tess Sanders Lazarus - avatar Tess Sanders Lazarus

How have live chatbots turned beneficial for online businesses?

Every business these days have come up with their online models. While some people still rely on the customer service representatives to handle the queries for their company around the clock through...

Paresh Patil - avatar Paresh Patil



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion