Newsrooms across Australia have shrunk and closed. An estimated 3000 journalists have lost their jobs in the last six years through redundancies alone, with more expected. This is more than 25 per cent of the profession.
But the impact is far greater than the loss of jobs. The flight of advertising dollars to digital platforms has caused a collapse in the business model that previously paid for most journalism. Sales platforms have replaced classifieds. Google and Facebook now account for more than half of all advertising on the internet.
Public interest, local and regional journalism have been the biggest casualties.The media’s role as journal of record and watchdog of government, institutions and business has become largely uneconomic and the impact is alarming.
In the digital world it is now easier to find out what Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian are doing than what’s happening in your own neighbourhood.
Without public interest journalism, who will investigate and highlight abuse, corruption and systematic failure? Who will raise issues of public policy and keep us informed without commercial bias? Who will tell us what’s planned in our jurisdictions large and small? Who will present a wide range of issues from multiple points of view?
Independent public interest journalism is the cornerstone of democracy. Without it, ours is under threat.