[ASC-list] Interesting article by Melissa Sweet Croakey blogger

Susannah Eliott Susannah at smc.org.au
Fri Mar 1 04:32:30 UTC 2013

Hi  All,
I find myself agreeing with Niall and Will, and not because I'm  garden variety fence sitter. It is an incredibly important issue for communicators and worthy of a session at the next ASC conference I think (that is "is traditional media really dying or just morphing"). 

There are many who believe that traditional media is indeed in its death throws and that this thing called new (incl social) media is the only way forward. I believe both statements to be misleading. There's no doubt that traditional mass media outlets lost a lot of ground by not embracing new media earlier and not coming to terms with the way technology would revolutionise the way that people get their information. But they are catching up and providing their news and features in a growing number of formats (who watches live television anymore? Quite a few but this will surely decline as more people start to watch programs when and where they want, either through a YouTube Channel or with their favourite TV show App on their iPad - have a look at the Sunrise App to see how things are changing). 

When people say they get their information from social media, that's surely true but we need to remember that many of these networks lead their followers to interesting articles, footage and animations in traditional and non-traditional media outlets. There's no real reason to separate out purely online information sources like Lifehacker, TC and Crikey from The Age and The Oz, so the traditional vs new media tag is becoming increasingly less useful.  And it's clear that we are in the midst of a massive merging of social and traditional media, something we all need to be following closely. Anyone who doubts the numbers that the combination of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube when used in tandem can achieve should look at http://www.youtube.com/user/smosh with nearly 8 million subscribers (though I wouldn't bother actually watching the clips unless you want to have your brain numbed).  But it's not news and you'd find it hard to even call it information of any sort.

So the important thing is to make a clear distinction not between new media and traditional media but between information and purely entertainment/psycho material. Niall's right of course that tabloids (in print and new media formats) still reach a huge audience - The HeraldSun is still the biggest with an overall readership of 1.5 million - and commercial TV still has massive audience reach (in 2012 50% of Americans named television as their primary source of information on politics). And yet, ask any 15 year old where they get their information it's more likely to be a YouTube channel and it's likely to be connected to their social media friend circle. So unless the mainstream media can keep abreast of that young growing market, they will lose more and more ground over time.

Folks like Prof Barry Brook who run their own blog site will tell you that their hits/readers go up phenomenally when they are quoted/linked in mainstream media. So there's a strong interplay between social media and traditional media that can work in both directions. 

I'll stop the rant here but think it's a rather nuanced picture out there and we should be careful about making generalisations that don't help us in the end. Look forward to hearing other people's thoughts.


Dr Susannah Eliott
Chief Executive Officer

Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC)
Street address: The Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, ADELAIDE SA 5000
Postal address: PO Box 237, RUNDLE MALL SA 5000
Ph: (08) 7120 8660 | Mob: 0424 676 136 | susannah at smc.org.au | smc.org.au 

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-----Original Message-----
From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Will Grant
Sent: Friday, 1 March 2013 12:02 PM
To: Niall Byrne
Cc: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Interesting article by Melissa Sweet Croakey blogger

It's probably pedantic of me to take exception, but Google (and others) didn't 'steal' anything. Advertisers (and everyday people selling things) simply moved to a better value offering. 

But more importantly, that numbers argument just isn't the case anymore. There are plenty of new media voices who reach those numbers every day, and these aren't just traditional media players who've added Facebook. They are also reaching these magical 'unconverted' people too. 


On 01/03/2013, at 11:32 AM, Niall Byrne <niall at scienceinpublic.com.au> wrote:

> The article is by founding ASC member Leigh Dayton, former science writer at the SMH then the Australian. 
> And yes we all know that the business model for newspapers is broken - Google and others stole the advertising. 
> But there's a danger if we think that our own blogging, tweeting and facebooking is going to fill the gap. 
> Firstly there's an urgent need for good, skilled investigative journalism of the kind that Leigh has done many times over the years.
> Secondly platforms that are often touted as an alternative, such as The Conversation, are not for the most part independent reporting. The Conversation has done a brilliant job of getting scientists to comment and editorialise. But that's not journalism. It's important but different. 
> And finally, while we blog, tweet and facebook to the converted, old school media are still reaching millions. Channel Seven News on Sundays after the footie reaches over 700,000 in Melbourne alone. The Herald Sun and the Telegraph jointly reach well over a million people every day. Fairfax probably has about half that reach - but still a decent half a million or so. These are the kinds of numbers that we are nowhere near achieving in new media yet. And radio audiences continue to grow through broadcast and online. 
> ASC was founded by journalists and communicators and I think we need to explore ways of reengaging with 'old-school science and medical reporters'.
> Niall
> Niall Byrne
> Creative Director
> Science in Public
> 82 Hudsons Road, Spotswood  Vic  3015
> PO Box 2076 Spotswood VIC 3015
> 03 9398 1416, 0417 131 977
> niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
> Twitter @scienceinpublic
> Full contact details at www.scienceinpublic.com.au
> -----Original Message-----
> From: asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au 
> [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Susan Kirk
> Sent: Friday, 1 March 2013 9:55 AM
> To: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
> Subject: [ASC-list] Interesting article by Melissa Sweet Croakey 
> blogger
> http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2013/02/24/from-the-perfect-job-to-
> an-endangered-species-the-demise-of-science-journalism-and-why-it-matt
> ers/
> Surely, while we may be losing some of the reporting in mainstream 
> media, we are all madly blogging, tweeting, facebooking (for want of a 
> better word) and staging events, etc etc. Is it really news that the 
> mainstream media is becoming 'not so' mainstream?  Social media and 
> the internet (apps, websites
> etc) is advancing.
> ASC should be seen as addressing these sorts of comments and articles and at the same time highlighting what our members are doing?  Can I suggest a reply on the ASC website?
> As a member, I can start.  I blog.  I tweet. I have a facebook page and a facebook group  I also write for Fairfax Media for titles that used to be owned by Rural Press.  However, Fairfax, in its wisdom, have deleted a few of these mastheads and the couple it has kept are focussing heavily on the internet/tablet model to deliver news.
> I would also argue that the internet is a better medium than print for complex science stories via the addition of audio, hyperlinks, images and video.  Also freelancers are playing a big role in delivering some of the complex science that takes many man/woman hours to get right.  Some of these stories are, by necessity, long and they are not going to see the light of day in newspapers for that reason.  Newspapers are fast becoming extinct, not the journalists.
> S
> Susan Kirk   B.comm  freelance Journalist
> Member and Queensland Web Editor -  Australian Science Communicators 
> (ASC) Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA)
> tel: +61 7 5478 6761 | mobile: 0423342867 | email: 
> susan at susankirk.com.au www.susankirk.com.au |  Skype: susanakirk | 
> Tweet: susanakirk
> ³If you don¹t ask the right questions you won¹t get the right 
> answers.²
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