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Opportunities for the ABC Online

The next presenter at ANZCA 2009 is Toija Cinque, who continues the discussion especially of public broadcasting in the online environment. The Net increases the diversity of information available to inform the citizenry, of course - but public broadcasters continue to be bound also by their charters and need to adddress their obligations.

Journalism is now becoming more a process than a product, and this provides journalists with less and less time to ascertain what is true and significant. This may mean that the public now gets more pure opinion than factual detail - and crowdsourcing information from users only adds more problems with fact-checking to this process. This also pertains to the use of hyperlinks on news Websites, of course - one reason why still so few mainstream news Websites link to information outside of their own sites (in addition to the desire not to provide easy avenues for users to leave the news organisation's own site).

There are two main fields of journalism: orientating journalism, which provides background commentary and explanation to the general public, and instrumental journalism, which makes available functional and specialised information.

Toija also adds the opportunities now provided through new digital channels and online (and mobile) news services, which provide additional avenues to the news content of public service broadcasters - some of this content now exists as stand-alone material separate from programmes in the main channels. ABC iView is another such service, of course, which provides on-demand catch-up viewing of ABC content outside of the set broadcast schedules, but of course requires broadband access. iView is also limited by copyright and licencing arrangements, which is why the vast ABC archives for the most part still remain untapped. (The BBC has found much the same.) Another interesting ABC initiative is ABC Fora, a collaboration with the US-based Fora TV that provides access to recordings of public speeches and debates; ABC TV also broadcasts some of this content.

Interestingly, Internet use in Australia has now superseded television viewing in Australia for the first time, but there is no complete fragmentation of TV viewing, but a mass audience continues to exist. However, access now takes place using a variety of channels rather than the one broadcast stream. This is likely to continue, and to see the Websites of public broadcasters to become the first rather than second point of contact for public access.

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