Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Conversation: media done better

I frequently complain about the quality of mainstream media (for example, see yesterday's post or last Thursday's). Today I have a brief recommendation of an Australian-based alternative.

One of the (many) major problems with much contemporary commercial media is declining standards of journalistic expertise. This has numerous causes, including the rise of the 24/7 news cycle culture (blame the interwebs) and declining advertising revenues in traditional media (blame the interwebs). But the effect is that more and more news stories are barely re-hashed corporate press releases (known as churnalism) and even those that are not are frequently written by individuals with little background in their subject, making them more prone to shallow, inaccurate and falsely balanced reporting.

Wouldn't it be nice if real experts were to write stories on some of the complex topics we face? Wouldn't it be nice if articles were not simply filling the space between ads? Wouldn't it be nice if contributors' conflicts of interest were made more transparent? Wouldn't it be nice if readers were treated as more than the product being sold to the advertisers?

The Conversation aims to do just that. Just three months old, The Coversation is a not-for-profit independent news source where all the main contributors are academics at universities or the CSIRO. Writers can only contribute on topics they are actively researching or have a history of researching. Conflicts of interest, corporate funding or associations with think-tanks have to be acknowledged upfront. Anonymous comments are banned (indeed, one needs to have an academic email address to even contribute a comment). There are no ads.

One highlight is a recent series of fourteen articles called Cleaning Up the Climate Debate. Each of the articles is given a one paragraph summary here. They are worth more than a causal glance.

I have no conflict of interest in writing this post. It is just a good site.


byron smith said...

Not saying it's perfect, but so far it has been a cut or three above most of what passes for mainstream media discussion in Australia.

byron smith said...

Orion: Take back the media. A call to relocalise media. This is part of what is needed, though quality journalism on national and international issues is one thing worth having some pooled resources for.

Andrew said...

No conflict of interest? You're not a registered contributor are you ... hmm? But it is a good site.

byron smith said...

The Conversation: this interview with Senator Brown concerning the role of the media (especially the Murdoch media and their political distortions) seems particularly relevant given all that has come to light since it was published.

byron smith said...

one needs to have an academic email address to even contribute a comment
Unfortunately, they seem to have dropped this requirement.

byron smith said...

Four Conversation pieces about recent developments in the Oz media landscape:

Malcolm Fraser: Does it matter who owns our papers? Yes it does.

Rinehart’s tilt at power is bad news for public debate.

Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch: a study of power in the media.

Fairfax or Gina-fax? Let’s have the debate before it’s over.