Monday, May 4, 2009

An evening with Nicky

So tonight I listened to Nicky Hager speak about the state of journalism, which is a subject lacking any positivity at best. Nicky followed this path, dedicating 45 minutes of his one hour spiel to the way journalism has turned into an arm of public relations - not a stand-alone occupation.

Obviously it followed all the usual paths - capitalism, corporate control and the regurgitation of "paid voices". In this sense the negatives Nicky stated were much the same as you'll find in any article related to the political economy of media and the celebrification of news media - popularity over integrity.

One thing which did surprise me was Nicky's take on the survival of the newspaper. All I have read (and assumed myself) is that the rise of the internet and the shift of papers to the Internet will spell the end of newspapers as we know them. I remember reading an article not long ago about the amount of magazines which are started, go to print once, fail and the next month they are nowhere to be seen. Why buy magazines when most of them are also online (albeit a month later)? I assumed papers were going the same way.

Newspaper will survive according to Nicky. He says the online arm of newspapers are funded by the advertising in the print editions, in my eyes meaning the print version will fail only after the online version. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was published in print form for the last time on 19 March and Madison's (WI) afternoon newspaper, The Capital Times, has done the same thing.
(http://www.seattlepi.com/business/403793_piclosure17.html and http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/09/business/main3812203.shtml). Other than possibly the major players, I can't see print surviving much longer if technology allows people to be on the internet anywhere and everywhere - which I would suspect isn't too far away. I used to argue that the portability of newspaper was the winner. That's why I buy the Sunday paper. I can take it to the beach and read it. With portable devices and the spread of free wireless Internet, digital newspapers are staking their claim. Still, papers will survive he says.

According to Nicky, the survival of journalism is reliant on journalists asking themselves what their occupation is about. He says we need to go back to the days before PR people outnumbered journalists and start writing news because it is news, not because someone else told us too.
Journalists need to realise that competition amongst journalists isn't the answer, he says. To truly fulfill the role of the fourth estate there needs to be cooperation, not infighting. The latter leads to a reliance on sources, and a journalist which is more akin to a puppet on strings.


I could go further. Nicky said a helluva lot more, which I don't want to attempt to recite. A dictaphone would help.
Although he acknowledged that news journalism has been going down the gurglar a bit, he said the ones who can pull it back out are the journalists - by working together, not against each other, and first of all questioning why they're in the game.
Get rid of the ones who are looking for stardom, keep
the passionate ones and we'll be part way there.


1 comment:

  1. If Nicky's discussion did follow the usual pathsof

    ' .. capitalism, corporate control and the regurgitation of "paid voices" .. popularity over integrity. '

    then he is of course absolutely correct.

    The voice of the Sunday papers and especially the NZ Herald is the voice of Establishment, the voice of the Advertiser/Funder, the voice of the Owner.

    The boot is put in to anything that challenges the "accepted order", making sure no Johnny gets above his station.

    This is not the kind of dynamic media we need. True investigative reporting is rare to the point of extinction. BALANCE is almost as hard to find.

    All power to Nicky Hager for his efforts to challenge the existing order. We need him now more than ever. Otherwise I think we will all fall to sleep in grey boredome.

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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