Brave News World: New News 2010

Jon Tjhia drops by New News 2010 – the conference for media professionals and engaged citizens – and delivers a rundown of some of its key questions.

We’ve all witnessed the growing pains of media organisations as they each grapple with the question of convergence. Whether it’s iPad apps, citizen journalism or pay walls, the breadth of the news industry’s response – particularly to the question of pulling coin – has often overshadowed debate on ethical standards and press conduct.

New News, the conference for media professionals running as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival, attempts to reignite questions of journalistic integrity. In his keynote address last night, ABC Managing Director Mark Scott addressed questions of access, commentary and timeliness, articulated through the lens of national coverage of the 2010 federal election campaign.

Scott presented the thesis that the 24-hour news cycle has exposed the machinations of power to a greater scrutiny; that news and entertainment are two very distinct parts of our daily cultural conversation, not to be confused with one another. And while arguing that ‘live matters’, he underlined the need to furnish audiences with background pieces contextualising the flurry of reportage and commentary.

Meanwhile, The Ethical Journalist Online this afternoon attempted to identify and address questions that face newsmakers in the era of digital and participatory media. Panellists Denis Muller, Paul Chadwick, Chris Chapman and Julian Disney discussed the impact of fast-turnaround journalism and what it means for accuracy and accountability – with Chadwick suggesting that breaking stories could come with “meaningful transmissions” updating audiences on the verification status of its sources. The session also covered the somewhat uncomfortable relationship between correctability, longevity and privacy.

As platforms where news organisations meet their audiences multiply – and television, radio and print continue to exist and cost money – perhaps it’s more a question of divergence than convergence. How will our media cope with the challenges of outputting more and more varied content, while also moderating comments and contributions from “the people formerly known as the audience”?

Follow the continuing discussion on Twitter with #newnews – or sit tight for New New News. Now, the weather.

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