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Storyology in Sydney – installment one

Storyology in Sydney – installment one

by Stephen Olsen
August 6, 2013

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Al Anstey, managing director of Al-Jazeera English, commenced day one of the Walkley Foundation’s Storyology summit with a resounding affirmation that “there is a future for journalism, but only if we act now!”

Given how troubled the news industry is, his caution to the summit participants at the Teachers Federation venue in Sydney’s Surry Hills, was that the industry journalists are an integral part of is “risking moving steadily towards obscurity”.

“The question we need to ask is whether we are heading in the wrong direction? (It seems to me) the media industry has lost its way, and its true mission – that is, journalism,” said Anstey.

In Anstey’s words that mission remains fairly simple, being to “protect the integrity of content, witness events for ourselves, fully explain stories, and fundamentally give our audiences the full picture … through independent, reliable, factual, impartial information”.

“A vicious aspect of the news cycle is that the weakest remain in the dark. Their rulers are the only ones heard. Journalists exist to shine a light in the shadows,” said Anstey – adding that with increased electronic connectivity acting to traverse boundaries to bring people together an independent media is all the more important “to join the dots”.

Anstey believes that when the ownership of a raft of media mastheads passed into owners focused firstly on commercial opportunities, a turning point occurred that has seen media based more and more on a “misplaced assumption that tabloid infotainment will win loyal audiences”.

“Real news disappeared from the front covers of magazines and front pages of newspapers… real news in theory doesn’t sell cars, it doesn’t sell advertising (but) if we follow that logic we’ll all be living in a fantasy world.

Anstey observed that a result of the rise of opinion channels masquerading as news channels is that journalism has become confused and that diversity of content has been severely dissipated.

On the other hand he also observed the fact that even in the face of such “dumbing down” people are crying out for quality information and the right to know what’s going on.

For journalists, where they still have adequate resources, this still means never deviating from responsibilities to provide coverage that holds power to account for those audiences and that reports the under-reported or overlooked; all because the bottom line for journalism remains an ability to achieve that level of credibility towards keeping a vital tradition alive.

Anstey: “If practised properly our profession is critical. We must stand together to protect our profession, to hear the voices and tell the stories of the world’s people”.

The first day programme for this summit about media and creativity was titled ‘Stories from the Asian Century’, around which three wildly different panel discussions were held.

The first panel featured leading journalists from Thailand, India, Korea and Malaysia; the second was essentially an on-stage interview of Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr; and the third mixed journalists, editors and authors into a lively discussion about the pulse of life in the Indo-Pacific region.

More instalments on Storyology, which continues through to Friday 10 August, will follow. Alternatively feel free to tune into @palavermedia and the #storyology hashtag on Twitter.

Note: Palaver Media is filing reportage for the Scoop Independent News site Scoop Media is currently working with other interested parties to form a foundation for public interest journalism in New Zealand.


© Scoop Media

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