The future of journalism
If you were to ask a journalist what makes a good news story, you'd probably be told: ‘It's a gut feeling. You just know.’ Until recently, journalism was considered a trade rather than a profession. Many Australian journalists entered the media without having studied journalism at tertiary level. They learnt to become journalists on the job, by trial and error. They learnt by taking advice from senior reporters and by discovering which of their stories made the front page or the nightly news bulletin and which ones were spiked. Except when they were faced with serious ethical conflicts, journalists were not expected to reflect on their practice or to interrogate the values underpinning judgments about how stories should be sourced, crafted and placed.
This chapter is concerned with the future of journalism. But before we can ask where journalism is going, we need to ask where it has come from. We need to examine briefly the principles which have conventionally underpinned journalistic practice. In doing so, it is important to bear in mind that journalism has always been continually evolving and that the field of journalism is marked by many different approaches at any given time. But despite this fluidity and diversity, there are key conventions which shaped Australian journalism in the twentieth century and it is the departure from these conventions which is defining the shape of journalism in this century.
In his influential history of the Australian print media, Henry Mayer notes that many indictments of the popular press start with a myth: