Media Alliance: Enough about the paywalls, let’s get back to the journalism

Life_in_the_clickstreamThe outlook for journalists is improving, but Australia is failing to debate how the ethos of journalism can be maintained, a new report from the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance warns.

In the foreword to its new report Life In The Clickstream, the Media Alliance’s federal secretary Christopher Warren  warned against only discussing the monetisation of online content. He said:

“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.”

The report also highlights the decline in advertising revenues experienced by many of the country’s newspapers. It focuses on analysis from CBA Equities, which looked at a sample of newspapers in Australia and New Zealand.

Among those hardest hit was Fairfax’s The Age and Australian Financial Review.

According to the CBA numbers, the two newspapers saw the biggest declien in the number of ad pages.

In the 2009 financial year, The Age’s number of ad pages dropped by 5%, 10%, 22% and 22% in each quarter. In the 2010 financial year, the drops were a further 14% and 3% before bottoming out and seeing improvements of 13% and 18%.

For the AFR, the declines were 13%, 12%, 27% and 20% in 2009 and 18% and 15% in 2010. The final two quarters of the 2010 financial year saw the ad count increase slightly by 2% and 5%.

The full report can be reviewed online.


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