Shrinking newsrooms: 4 stories this week


Stories about shrinking newsrooms and more people turning to social media to find breaking stories aren’t new.

But I came across four articles this week (via my social networks) which struck me as being a) a bit sad b) a bit alarming but c) not too surprising.

Those pieces began with More bad news for Fairfax as MMP axes seven titles. The article reported that “Thirty-two employees will lose their jobs at the part-Fairfax-owned Metro Media Publishing after the suburban newspaper company announced an unprecedented closure of seven Melbourne mastheads this morning.”

Crikey article, 4 June 2013
Crikey article, 4 June 2013

Then I read  Could iPhones replace news photographers? The Chicago Sun-Times thinks so which reported the following in relation to the Chicago Sun-Times:

“ … last week the paper did something unimaginable: it laid off its entire staff of 28 full-time photographers. While it’s no secret newspapers across the country are struggling to make ends meet, the move by Sun-Times goes beyond just budget cuts. Citing a need for more video content, the Sun-Times will utilize freelance photographers and require its reporters to shoot photos and videos for the stories they cover.”

The third piece –  this article yesterday via mumbrella: AAP restructure sees loss of 20-25 editorial jobs reported that “Newswire service the Australian Associated Press has announced a restructure that will see a 10 per cent cut across editorial and will result in the loss of 20-25 editorial jobs.”

The final article of my little reading collection was this post I read today:  When sources can go direct, do we need journalism less or do we need it more than ever?  It was a good piece, which discussed how people can use social media to obtain information ‘from the horse’s mouth’ and how politicians are using social networks as their broadcast tools.  The article said “ … politicians can now reach out to their supporters much more effectively by detouring around the traditional media”. However this may not be a disaster for journalism, according to the author:

“Looked at another way, however, this allows journalists of all kinds — both professional and amateur or “citizen” journalists — to move up the value chain”  because “it should free up a whole class of reporters to do more value-added journalism that explains what things mean, or questions the statements of politicians.”

What do you think?

Is it high time that we ditched traditional media outlets, knowing they have their own bias, weakness and drawbacks? Or do we need the Fourth Estate now more than ever, when misinformation, myth, ghost-tweeters and propaganda is so difficult to spot?

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Ash Simmonds says:

    Every time I’ve been somehow involved or directly know those involved in a media story I’ve found the report that the masses hear is lucky to be 10-20% accurate.

    Journalists and media outlets can go F themselves frankly, I have zero respect for the “profession”, the majority are oxygen thieves.

    I gave up watching news in 1996, life is far better when you only give a crap what happens to people and things which directly affect you or you are acutely interested in – think of that next time you hear a story, “does this affect me directly or is it relevant to my interests?”

    Vote with your attention.

  2. Prakky says:

    Thanks for commenting, Ash. Interesting you can remember the exact year you gave up watching news. Milestone event? 🙂

    1. Ash Simmonds says:

      In the early-mid 90’s living at “home” (aunt/uncle) I loved Media Watch with Stuart Littlemore, it made me realise how much of what we’re told is utter BS, it was actually one of the funniest shows on television for those of us who “took the red pill”.

      In ’96 I moved out on my own but couldn’t afford a teevee, after a month without any media saturation I realised I didn’t miss it, indeed was much happier and more critical thinking not being bombarded by “news” and advertising telling me what to think.

      Since then I’ve rarely had more than a few hours “watching tv” in a given month. In my last apartment I didn’t even have an aerial so I somehow managed 3 whole years without watching teevee.

      In the end I may have a somewhat skewed version of reality compared to average Joe, but all of my knowledge and opinions come from personal in-depth research, nothing is based on what I’ve been told.

      It also makes me highly skeptical of anything someone tells me that doesn’t fly in my logic world, but hey we all gotta have fantasies. I fantasise that oneday we’ll be able to dance together without it being awkward. :p

      1. Prakky says:

        Haha! Your last line sounds like something from a sad Eric Clapton song, but I know exactly what you mean Ash …

        You might know I studied journalism at uni and had a few small journalism gigs. During my uni studies, we were STRONGLY encouraged to read all of the weekend papers. We had quizzes every Monday morning, poring over what had been reported – everything from the front page through to the sports pages, and not just our local papers. I found that quite challenging and also onerous, even though I’d happily read newspapers (especially columnist Des Colhoun) for years. It became a chore. When I graduated, I still felt an obligation to read those weekend papers cover to cover, funnily enough. I guess that’s the Good Student in me. It took me a long time to kick the habit and also to recognise the depression those papers developed in me. In particular The Australian was depressing; filled with stories of child abuse and world disasters and corporate crooks. I felt so much lighter when I finally gave it up.

        Today I still flick through the local papers, partly related to my job, but in no way feel compelled to wade through detail or take anything at face value.

      2. Prakky says:

        ps. It will always be awkward, Ash. It will always be.

    2. Ash Simmonds says:

      (Can’t seem to reply directly to your reply – hopefully this gets nested sorta correctly)

      Heh yeah I know you had a journo background – I REGRET NOTHING! 😀

      In ’97 (I was 20) I was going to “business college” or something and we were tasked to write a précis on the modern media world and our perception or some crap, then read it in front of class. Everyone else was about the fantastical and shallow things reported – ie at the end of the news – whereas mine went something like (I can’t remember exactly) “somewhere in the world right now there are a hundred car crashes happening right now where people are being severed limb from limb and dying; somewhere in Australia someone’s house and everything they value in life is burning to the ground; somewhere in Adelaide today about 40 people died; somewhere within a few suburbs of where we are right now, a young girl is currently being raped”.

      I think I got voted most depressing outlook and asked never to do social commentary again, sheesh – save the world from itself and you’re a hero, but show people just how impotent they are just once and you’re forever the guy who shags goats. Or something like that.

  3. robynverrall says:

    I actually find that evening TV news is really old stories now. I find Twitter and other internet sources give me the ‘news’ I need and also the option of going and reading a more indepth story so by the time dinner comes TV news is almost like reading yesterdays paper. News is news and anything can be news so I say the more the merrier and in different mediums to the ‘norm’

  4. Vote with your attention. Love it ! I think there will always be a place for traditional news or perhaps for authoritative news sources anyway. It is however fascinating to be part of the information transformation that is taking place. Watching the power move from the publisher to the people is defiantly interesting.

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