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Industrial Journalism

The Trouble with 'F*** News'

The second morning keynote at Future of Journalism 2017 is by Claire Wardle, in a pre-taped keynote (thanks to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security). She begins by introducing the First Draft project, which takes a similar approach to news fact-checking organisations, but instead focusses on claims and visual content circulated by unofficial sources prior to publication in the news. (The overlap between these approaches is also of great interest.)

How can computational techniques help with this; how can unofficial material be effectively verified; how can this be treated by law and regulation; and how does this address the current state of information disorder in a massively multi-channel media environment? The project takes an explorative approach, and importantly also translates its findings into educational resources for journalists and journalism students. It has focussed especially on recent elections in the U.S., France, Britain, and the upcoming German federal election, as well as on humanitarian crises.

A Call to Study "News in Use"

It's Thursday, so this must be Cardiff and the Future of Journalism 2017 conference. We start with a double-barrelled keynote involving Silvio Waisbord and Claire Wardle, and Silvio starts us off by considering the role of journalism in a 'post-truth' environment. There's been a great deal of discussion about 'fake news' and 'post-truth' in the aftermath of Brexit and Donald Trump's election, much of it from outside of this discipline – so what can journalism studies add to it?

These are odd times. The criticism of corporate news is now louder on the right than on the left; social constructionists are now louder in their defence of journalistic and scientific facts; journalism is now perhaps better than ever in its fact-checking even as trust is at a low ebb; we are supposedly in an age of post-truth, yet truth-seeking movements are growing in many authoritarian regimes. Some of these debates are already very familiar from the global south, in fact: it's only now that the rest of the world has caught up with it.

Prominent Metaphors in Propositional Journalism about Tasmanian Development

The final speaker in this ANZCA 2017 session is Bill Dodd, whose focus is on 'propositional journalism': journalism that proposes change and assesses possible future solutions and opportunities. This has been suggested as a way to re-engage audiences with democratic processes and might be seen as empowering, but whose ideas are presented and how they are framed in such journalism – that is, who is chosen to be empowered – can also reveal democratic deficits.

Local Newspaper Journalists' Attitudes towards Their Changing Industry

The next speaker in this ANZCA 2017 session is Kathryn Bowd, whose interest is in the work practices of local journalists in regional areas in a changing communicative environment. Local journalists have long been key members and organisers of the local community, but like their metropolitan colleagues they are now feeling considerable economic pressures; regional newspapers have perhaps held up for longer than their larger city and national counterparts, but are now also struggling – and here, given their smaller staffing bases, the loss of a handful of journalists can have a disproportionately large impact on the news outlet.

The Role of Unions in a Changing Journalistic Work Environment

The post-lunch session at ANZCA 2017 starts with a paper by Penny O'Donnell, on the continuing transformation of journalism. She suggests that journalism unions still play an important role in promoting occupational cohesion and jurisdictional control over what is journalism, even in spite of the substantial changes to journalistic practices.

Does ABC News Siphon Audiences from Fairfax?

Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood has been busy. His company’s announcement on 3 May 2017 that Fairfax would sack 125 of its newsroom staff led to Sydney Morning Herald and The Age journalists going on strike, at the worst possible time in the Australian political calendar.

Meanwhile, media reports highlighted Hywood’s annual pay of over $7 million – which at a median reported salary for journalists of just over $51,000 would comfortably pay for the total number of staff laid off in Hywood’s announcement.

This is not to say that Hywood does not deserve a CEO-level salary, of course. But in light of the criticism of the job losses at Fairfax, his defence of executive pay levels was tin-eared, to say the least:

We pride ourselves on providing above-market salaries. … We need good people to work at this business. You don’t fix the issues confronting the media business by doing the same thing again and again, and expecting a different result.

2016 Publications Round-Up

We’re already deep into February 2017, but I thought I’d finally put together an overview of what I’ve been up to during the past year, at least as far as research outputs are concerned. It’s been a busy year by any measure, with a number of key projects coming to completion; research publications from some of these are still in production, but here’s what’s already come out.

News Sharing on Twitter: A Nationally Comparative Study (AoIR 2016)

AoIR 2016

News Sharing on Twitter: A Nationally Comparative Study

Axel Bruns, Brenda Moon, Felix Münch, Jan-Hinrik Schmidt, Lisa Merten, Hallvard Moe, and Sander Schwartz

  • 6 Oct.

Evolving Attitudes to Paying for Online News

Finally for this session and for ECREA 2016, Richard Fletcher directs our attention to the question of paying for online news, drawing on a six-country study of online pay models. Such models have been a major concern in the industry for a long time, but have remained elusive; there are also few findings in the research that are consistent across different national media systems.

Social Media Guidelines in Norwegian News Organisations

The next speaker at ECREA 2016 is Karoline Ihlebæk, whose focus is on social media regulations in Norwegian news organisations. These are related to questions of trust, legitimacy, and changing professional ideals: journalistic adoption of social media has at first been unregulated, but news organisations are now increasingly seeking to regulate this to fend off any potential negative implications. This is also a question of power within these organisations. Such power need not always be negative and restrictive, however: it may also be supportive and empowering for journalists.

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