- Opinion Piece -

The changing media landscape

Sam Birrell 2019

One of the things I find the most difficult about the modern era of disruption is the changing face of the media.

Many people used to get their information from professional journalists who are bound by an ethical code, trained to write (or speak) and paid to find what former Washington Post journalist and Watergate scandal exposer Carl Bernstein described as “the best attainable version of the truth”.

Advertising revenue in newspapers and on radio and television traditionally paid for this journalism.

Also, in the case of the ABC, the taxpayer chips in for our government funded, but necessarily independent, media outlet.

As all media companies are finding out, traditional arrangements are being challenged by free online news, social media and streaming entertainment services.

Social media may seem the ultimate democracy.

Everyone gets to write whatever they want, and every opinion can be heard.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, as diversity of views should help enhance the debate rather than hinder it.

Perversely, though, it can morph into a forum for anger-fuelled ranting, which can be divisive and unfair on people in the public eye, such as our members of parliament.

The unmoderated nature and lack of an editorial process in these forums can also form an echo chamber of views and be a bit loose with the facts.

It has its place, but I wouldn’t like to see it dominate.

Greater Shepparton is enhanced y our traditional media outlets.

Journalists have cut their teeth here and moved on to the national media stage, and some continue to provide stories and views which inform and provoke thought about our region.

They thoughtfully tell stories about ourselves and our place.

Some things should be protected, and though our traditional media must evolve to survive, if we lost them, we would lose more than just some news bulletins and papers.

We can find ways to look after our media.

Subscribe to the Shepparton News and read the Shepparton Advisor when it arrives in your letterbox.

Be thankful that WIN and Nine still spend money on excellent and dedicated news journalists in Greater Shepparton, and advocate so this continues.

Don’t let the government cuts to ABNC affect the regions – they play a critical role in news and agricultural reporting and emergency notification.

I can’t imagine this city without them.

the commercial radion stations Triple M and Hit FM have local news bulletins and have been discussing issues such as water and education policy.

One FM runs great community programs.

If we are all informed of various sides of debates and go out of our way to understand the complexities of issues, our democracy improves.

If we don’t, well, as the motto of the Washington Post says, “Democracy Dies in Darkness”.

Happy New Year to all.

We have had some disagreements as a community this year, in the conventional media and on social media, but as former Prime Miniter John Howard used to say on election night (for our which he won, one where he conceded) “the things that unite us are much stronger than the things that divide us”.

Whilst we will have divergent views on how to get there, we are united in wanting our region to thrive.

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I am the CEO of Committee for Greater Shepparton. Of course Sam should write his own short bio that would live at the bottom of each of his opinion pieces.