This is the current main image on smh.com.au (2.45pm):
Yes, an official meeting between Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande –
Sarkozy’s Cuban heels let him see Hollande eye to eye – and the journo writes about his shoes. And gets it wrong – those are not Cuban heels. And then the online editor at smh.com.au decides it’s important enough to be the main image.
You can’t make this shit up.
And over at News.com.au, this is the story the online editor believes is the most important of the afternoon:
A tv show that often isn’t in the top 10 most watched of the week is considered more important than the news that the Electoral Commission has cleared Craig Thomson of electoral fraud. That’s right, the result of a show that most people don’t watch is more important than one of the biggest stories of the year. Or perhaps it’s that a positive result for Thomson ruins News Ltd’s anti-Government agenda. (Psst journalists, starting all your news stories with “Tony Abbott says” is not holding the Government to account. It’s letting the Opposition control your news agenda, and the result is you’re not holding anyone in power to account. Also, consider that Baym wrote this in 2005:
“Mainstream journalism’s reliance on predictable conventions can render it susceptible to manipulation by the professional speech writers and media handlers who seed public information with pre-scripted soundbites and spin,” (2005, p. 265).
Politicians know that you’ll lead your story with the dumb quip, and if someone asks any questions of substance, no one will report the answer. They also know that no journalists will fact check their claims, particularly those about the economy. Journalists, you are being used. But I digress.)
News.com.au is also running a BIG story about a finance reporter adjusting her skirt for a split second – stop the fucking presses, right? – and two free plugs for upcoming films.
I’m not suggesting that online news should be worthy and serious all the time. But it’s pretty hard to argue that it’s worthy and serious even some of the time.
One of the things I’m looking at in my doctorate is how young people experience the news. The research indicates that they reject mainstream news because it’s trivial and sensational (eg, McNair, 2000; Buckingham 2000; Raeymakers 2003; Mindich, 2005; Costera Meijer 2007… you get the picture. I won’t post all the refs below – I’ll put them in the comments if anyone wants them). It used to be the case that young people developed an interest in news when they “grew up”, but this is no longer so certain.
I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth mentioning again: In the 2004 US presidential election, 21 per cent of 18-34-year-olds got their news from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live – just behind the 23 per cent who got their political information from network news (Feldman, 2007). But, those who watched the comedy shows knew more about election issues than those who got their news from the MSM (National Annenberg Election Survey). If I was still a journalist, I’d be pretty fucking nervous about that.
Baym, G (2005), ‘The Daily Show: Discursive Integration and the Reinvention of Political Journalism’, Political Communication, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 259-276.
Costera Meijer, I (2007), ‘The paradox of popularity: How young people experience the news’, Journalism Studies, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 96-116.
Feldman, L (2007), ‘The news about comedy: Young audiences, The Daily Show, and evolving notions of journalism’, Journalism, vol. 8, pp. 406-427.