So are newspapers dying or not? Are they a little bit sick, or is it terminal?
According to News Limited CEO John Hartigan, newspapers need to aggressively market themselves as interpreters of the news, not just providers. In a speech this week to the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers’ Association (PANPA), Hartigan also called for more “crusading and campaigning journalism”.
This is actually a scary thought – most of News Limited’s papers, which dominate the Australian market, are conservative and more prone to spreading moral panic than crusading analytical journalism.
Look out for more tabloid-style crusades from the Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun and the Australian. No paedophile, drug-addicted single mum or drunken Aborigine will be safe from the News Limited rain of terror.
Is there really though a new virtual public sphere — a ‘fourth estate’ of the internet? I’m not yet convinced as I told my students the other day. The interent is rapidly being suborned by the very same large old-media companies who currently dominate the print and broadcast media. In this climate there’s no greater freedom available to journalists of either the professional, or the ‘citizen’ type.