The Media and Entertainment Arts Alliance are calling for the Government to step in and preserve public interest journalism.
Distribution and production of media has shifted with the prevalence of social media.
Despite becoming a useful distribution tool, major media outlets are losing revenue.
“Social media has take a lot of our content. It has become the primary outlet where many people communicate, so naturally a lot of the things they want to see aggregate in these areas. In the end, it’s had a very serious effect on pure journalism because it’s just not being viewed in the channels that would ordinarily provide money, that goes back into journalism,”
Martin Turner, part of the MEAA committee suggesting changes must be made, says the difficulties with technology is that the medium should not be the message itself.
“Journalism should always be about the interaction between real people, and again we’re caught because so many people now effectively communicate through technology and whether that amounts to where real stories come from is difficult,”
“At the end of the day, good journalists are people who find stories, not simply trawling through data, but just having actual human interactions,” he said.
Mr Turner explained that we need to take step back and look at what the effects are if we don’t get the media landscape right.
“A lot of the MEAA steps are to ensure that there’s diversity in the industry, not just all coming through very few channels. We are also trying to emphasise a quality aspect; hoping people want to come into the industry and do the job well,”
The series of recommendations to the Government include:
– Restoring and increasing funding to public broadcasting.
forms of support for rural and regional news outlets.
– More rigorous taxation of news aggregators.
– Consideration of a levy to raise funds from “digital disruptors” to be invested in public interest journalism.
– Consideration of direct and indirect government subsidies to media, with safeguards to protect editorial integrity from being compromised.
– Creation of a media diversity fund.
– Tax deductibility for news subscriptions.
– Industry assistance to retrain and re educate journalists, along with innovation grants and other forms of assistance to maintain .
– Funding for counselling and assistance to media workers as they transition out of secure work.
– Extension of charitable or tax-exempt status to public interest journalism.
– Encourage the establishment of foundations or not-for-profit media outlets.
– Further investigation about how to extend workplace protections and collective bargaining to freelance journalists who work as independent contractors with poorer pay and less job security than permanent staff journalists.
– Defamation law reform.
The media plays an essential role in the fourth estate in a healthy, functioning democracy.
Unless something urgent and comprehensive is done the media will continue to collapse, the number of journalists will reduce, audiences will become increasingly dissatisfied with media outlets and be more susceptible to ‘fake news’, and the public will in turn become less informed.
“I think it’s a very good thing for reporters to be accurately gathering news in the sense of asking questions and then delivering that to the public in a way that doesn’t distort the news to a large extent,” Mr Turner said.
The MEAA says it is time for the Government to foster, encourage, promote and support the media so that it can continue to function for all Australians.