Friday, March 13, 2009

Newspaper No Longer Most Trusted Source Of News For Australians

90% of Journalism Students Do Not Read Newspapers

By Darryl Mason

Australians have lost their trust in newspapers. Where once we had seven or eight major dailies in our larger cities, we now have one or two, at most, with at least one barely managing to hang on as a newspaper. But people are not just forsaking the daily newspaper ritual because the medium is well overdue for a complete reinvention, we ditched newspapers because we no longer trusted them to tell us the truth.

Newspapers are dying because they broke the essential pact of trust that existed for a century between newspaper and dedicated daily reader : you print the news that you have made sure is true to the best of your abilities, and we will trust you on most of it.

In the rush to war, all the city dailies, and The Australian of course, printed pages filled with lies and distortions and myth for months on end. We knew it was bullshit, how did they not know? And so millions of Australian minds wondered : 'Well, if they can so casually lie to us about a fucking war, what else are they lying to us about, on a daily basis?'

Story One :

The journalists of the future are rapidly moving away from traditional news services, saying they are impractical compared to new media.

A survey of Australian journalism students found 90 per cent of students do not like reading the newspaper, preferring to source news from commercial television or online media.

Professor in Journalism and Media Studies at the Queensland University of Technology, Alan Knight, conducted the survey and says despite an aversion to newspapers, 95 per cent of students are very interested in following the news.

He says the move away from newspapers is of great concern because they are still the major source of serious news in Australia.

Professor Knight says the survey results indicated most journalism students strongly believe newspapers will eventually die out but it may take some time.

"The future of printed newspapers is looking grim as there is an evident shift towards digital journalism."

Story Two :
A study by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that the Internet is the most trusted media outlet in Australia.

The study found that 25% of the population list the Internet as their must trusted source of information, followed by newspapers at 20%, TV at approx 17%, and radio at approx 13%.

I certainly don't think newspapers are about to die out. There will be even more of them in the future, but they will be more like magazines, and the news will be more local, focused on the events and happenings of a few suburbs, instead of entire states or countries. There's more to say on that, but my last coffee buzz has worn off and it's too late now for a refresher.

Perhaps the major newspapers can make up on the weekend what they lose during the week from melting sales. The weekend paper is heading towards $5, so just make it $5 now, but make it worth $10. That means real discount coupons for supermarkets and petrol stations. Get rid of the awful, inky newsprint, make it more like a larger magazine, with a weekly free movie on DVD (or a memory stick), and perhaps also the week's worth of video stories produced for the websites that most of us never get around to viewing during the workday. Why not a standard CD every week, a compilation of songs from the albums reviewed inside? Why not a thin paperback as well?

Instead of the Saturday morning ritual being "get milk, get bread, oh yeah, get the papers", it should be, "If I don't get the paper today, my weekend will be ruined."

I'm sure all the major newspaper owners are preparing for what comes next, when the newspapers we have come to know and love, and now disrespect and distrust, no longer pay their way. But you sure don't hear them talking much about exciting, innovative ideas to refresh and re-invent their printed media, and save their own arses.