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Gorey Things
26 November 2017 | comments: 0 | Categories: | Tags:

Fairfax Media dumbs down

It's hard to have confidence in the future of quality journalism when you visit The Age website and see mostly click bait.

I browsed there this morning to get a summary of the Queensland election. Possibly I should have gone to the Brisbane Times instead, but it seemed a reasonable assumption the Fairfax stable would give the inconclusive result prominent coverage Australia-wide given its national political significance.

Instead I was shocked to see a gaggle of entertainment, lifestyle and celebrity stories, including:

  • Trump's 'Mr Perfect' son-in-law hits a snag
  • Pistorius' prison sentence more than doubles (this story is several days old)
  • An internet overload could lead to digital dementia
  • Forget Baby Boomers, this is the reason house prices have soared
  • Why Bernardi's vendetta against GetUp! should worry you
  • Giving the word 'denial' a whole new meaning
  • Prince Harry to pop the big question any day now
  • How to help your children get through life after VCE

The Queensland election was relegated to a sidebar below the fold.

Seriously. This is what the editors of The Age consider the most important news that Victorians should be reading today.

I worked at The Canberra Times for a few months earlier this year and understand how this happens. Digital producers can see traffic count for each story and they quickly learn what delivers results.

Unfortunately, it's this type of infotainment The Age has dished up today.

For a regional paper like The Canberra Times, that means well-researched, good-quality local stories are shoved down the list and become difficult to find.

A journalist could work on something for a day, see it published and get read by only a few hundred people. Meanwhile, Nicole Kidman's latest adventures are guaranteed to draw thousands of eyeballs.

To some extent we're getting the rubbish we deserve and I find it rather depressing.

So-called public interest journalism is led by the ABC and The Guardian. The ABC has been a big disappointment in providing regional news online. Despite having greater resources than most commercial publishers its breadth of coverage is rather abysmal. The ABC seems to still believe that radio is its primary platform.

I don't have the answers. With so few barriers to entry it's surprising that more independent publishers haven't emerged to provide quality regional news.

The market is scattered and difficult to monetise. It probably needs local government or a philanthropist to invest and make something of it.

Meanwhile, Fairfax has lost credibility as a serious news provider and it's hard to see the company recovering and regaining respect.

The Age click bait

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