A chance for diversity? Australian online journalism
Bruns, Axel (2012) A chance for diversity? Australian online journalism. In Siapera, Eugenia & Veglis, Andreas (Eds.) The Handbook of Global Online Journalism. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, West Sussex, pp. 412-428.
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Australia’s mainstream media landscape has long been recognised as highly limited – media ownership in the country has traditionally been concentrated in the hands of a very few, and (except for Sydney and Melbourne) it is common for major Australian cities to be served by only one local newspaper, usually produced by Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd. This can be seen also to affect the quality and diversity of Australian journalism; additionally, the global decline of newspaper publishers’ revenues and overall adverse economic conditions exert further pressure on journalistic operations in the country. At the same time, and possibly in response to the increasing stresses on industrial journalism in the country and the implications they have for the quality of journalistic products, a vibrant and dynamic ecosystem of Australian industrial and citizen journalism publications has emerged online. Existing media organisations have built strong news brands online, while citizen journalists and political bloggers have given voice to issues, concerns, and opinions hitherto underrepresented in Australian mainstream journalism; of particular interest, however, is the increasing level of engagement and interaction between the two. While such interaction has been characterised by deep animosity at times (especially also in the context of the Australian federal election in November 2007), Australia has also seen the emergence and establishment of a number of new, intermediary online publications which act as spaces for public debate and analysis – from the public intellectualism of Online Opinion through the muckraking of Crikey to the progressive politics of New Matilda. The rise of social media as spaces for the discussion of news and politics further changes the media environment, potentially leading both to renewed conflict between professional and citizen journalists and to a greater level of engagement between journalists and audiences. Overall, then, such online developments offer a chance for a greater diversity of opinion and representation in Australian journalism, but also remain under a cloud from uncertain long-term business models and funding arrangements. This chapter outlines current trends in Australian online journalism, and speculates about their effect on the Australian news media landscape.
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