“I’ve never delivered a talk at 60 beats per minute, but here goes”.
This was the opening line from last nights Media140 event at the Fringe Bar, Sydney. Acoustics were clearly a problem as the background bass shook the laptops and notepads of those in attendance, but in some ways it was all quite fitting. The debate was solid, fast at times and ideas certainly flowed at a steady 60 beats per minute.
Caveat >> My ears and pen was also susceptible to the rumbling bass line, so the following transcriptions may not be wholly accurate. I apologise if there are errors, but for all those who have a hand in media, and journalism in particular, I believe this will be of great interest.
Panel Member Number 1: Catriona Menzies-Pike (@catri) – Associate Editor, NewMatilda
Launched in August 2004, newmatilda.com is an Australian website of news, analysis and satire. The site provides coverage of Australian politics, business, consumerism, civil society, international affairs, media and culture. It publishes the work of writers from a wide range of backgrounds including journalists, current and former politicians, lawyers, critical and creative thinkers, bloggers, policy-wonks and satirists.
Insight and sound-bites:
- “The sustainability of our business is very much linked to the quality of content.”
- “We maintain stringent editorial practices – fact checking, analysis of opinion so not to get sued, and spelling and grammar checking. We typically reject more content than we publish. We find that writers appreciate this attention and this policy is also recognised by our readers.”
- “Although our editorial process slows things down i.e. we don’t react immediately to event, we believe our site appeals to discerning audiences … visitors are smart – they can tell a reactive post from a well thought out article.”
- “We understand that low rates of pay do not help freelance journalists pay the bills, but I believe this will happen, one day, particularly if we maintain high editorial standards, for example, we are now introducing a system where contributors are payed for their submissions.”
- “We have no immediate plans for a pay-wall.”
- “Twitter allows us to build a relationship with writers as well as with our audience whilst facilitating immediate discussion and appraisal.”
Panel Member Number 2: Renai Lemay (@renailemay) – Publisher of Delimiter.com.au
Delimiter.co.au primarily covers the local IT and telecommunications industries, but also the introduction and usage of consumer technology in the Australian market, as well as the top gaming stories. The site was started in early 2010 by established Australian technology journalist and editor Renai LeMay with the aim of providing Australia with a strong independent voice about the local technology community.
- “In response to the question – ‘What should you do to make more money?’ – I say there is opportunity in a growing marketplace. People are constantly looking for great content. ‘Where are the opportunities?’ – I say, look where advertisers are spending money and what they are spending their money on. Look for the opportunity.”
- “Don’t look at what Murdoch is doing – who cares … just look at where the money is going and be there”.
Panel Member Number 3: Tim Burrowes (@mumbrella) – Editor of Mumbrella.com.au
Mumbrella is a discussion of everything under Australia’s media and marketing umbrella. It is organised into editorial strands: News, the Dr Mumbo diary, Opinion and the Mumbo Report video content. They also offer free listings including Jobs, Events, Freelancers and a business Directory
- “At my heart I am a print journalist, but the business model has changed three times in the last year and it will change again in a year or two – no doubt, but I do believe there is a way forward for journalism.”
- “Only one year ago Mumbrella was just me, but we now have five people on the payroll.”
- “Initially the project was about finding an audience, building a relationship with that audience and later introducing advertisers to that audience. People now pay to advertise on our site, but we also offer premium products such as appearing in our email newsletters.”
Key Insights from the debate
1. From Tim: “Will big media organisations rather than fighting with each other actually get in bed together and share costs of production and development. We might see some unusual alliances this year.”
2. From the floor: “Who will fund investigative journalism? Is it not more attractive to fund reactive/ simpler stuff?” Response: “The best articles that give us the most retweets, debate, attention, and interest from advertisers are those articles that have been well researched, thought-out and are possibly radical or controversial in their argument or line.”
3. From Reina: “I want to employ, full-time journalists and good writers. This is important to me and my business. Still, we can not hide from the fact that the cost of content has dropped a lot – that is the reality.”
4. From the floor: “To journalists, I say, think laterally – there is opportunity and there is money to be made, but it may mean learning new skills including video production, podcasting and photography. Editors and audiences are looking for the mix and we will pay for it.”
5. From Valerio Veo (@Valerioveo) – Head of SBS News and Current Affairs Online: “We are sending 19 year old journalists to cover Obama’s visit in Indonesia. They will be producing videos, articles and images and we will pay up to $1k per piece of content.”
From the twitter feed
@paulwallbank summation of #media140; content is all important but publishers can’t afford to pay content creators. we have a problem.
tullibo #media140 was disappointing-u guys could learn a lot from zenhabits.net & huffington post, 2 examples of journos making it big online
christinefogg Memorable frankness: “Really don’t like dealing with freelancers” Ouch! Good to hear Renai LeMay prepared pay salary #media140
@bradatslice: Journalist’s are like stone masons Some chip rocks Some make bricks The true believers are building cathedrals #Media140
julie_posetti The other clear (i.e. above the din ;) #media140 message was: journos must develop serious expertise-specialist reporting will find payment.
@bronwen: Great comment to end the night, “it’s not journalism that’s dying, but rather that the definition of journalism is changing.” #media140
More media insight @martincahill
Article also posted at Free Trade – the free trade of ideas.