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The future of independent journalism: Mumbrella360 video

In our modern world of clickbait and fake news, can independent journalism truly remain independent? That's just one of the many topics covered in this Mumbrella360 lunchtime debate, featuring speakers from the AFR, Guardian Australia, the BBC, and the Walkley Foundation.

During the discussion, the Australian Financial Review’s Michael Stutchbury clashes with Guardian Australia’s Ian McClelland over the issue of taxpayer’s dollars being spent on the ABC’s social media marketing budget as the panel explores how modern journalism can be funded.

McClelland has run The Guardian Australia since its launch four years ago and previously worked with Fremantle Media and RTL Group, while Stutchbury is the editor-in-chief of the AFR and formerly The Australian’s economics editor.

Also taking part in the debate is publishing veteran Marina Go, a current member of the Walkley Foundation’s advisory board and a former GM of Hearst-Bauer Media and CEO of Crikey’s parent company Private Media. To the right sits Jamie Angus, the Deputy Director of BBC World Service Group and the editorial director of BBC Global News.

Someone sadly missing from the panel was the New York Times’ new Australian bureau chief Damien Cave – something the session’s moderator, Miranda Ward, isn’t afraid to note. Shortly before the lunchtime session, Cave emailed to reveal that he was mistakenly 900km away in Melbourne, having muddled up where he was supposed to be speaking.

The panel kicks off with a discussion on the government’s commercial involvement in the journalism industry, to which Stutchbury replies: “I find it hard to see a situation where that would be useful, I think the senate enquiry that’s going on now does seem to be a bit of a circus and a platform for a number of high profile politicians to grandstand on.”

It’s all smiles as the session kicks off

When asked about what kinds of regulations he had in mind, he adds: “Clearly, the 75% reach rule has become redundant. Companies are using apps to get out of that.”

So if the government shouldn’t be funding journalism, who should? For Marina Go, in an ideal world, it would be the commercial organisations that do that, but we’re seeing, particularly at Fairfax, it’s a listed business and the share price is driving a lot of decisions. The decisions are not necessarily in the best interests of journalism at the moment.

For more from Mumbrella360 2017, be sure to check out the light-hearted lunchtime debate discussing whether or not digital metrics are bullshit, featuring Mark Ritson, Louise Barrett, Ashley Ringrose and Dan Monheit.

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