Went off with Erietta and Jo S to The Sydney Institute tonight, and gosh! who would’ve thunk that journo’s would have a way with words??!!?? Great speakers, all 3 of ’em.

Matt Price from The Australian introduced the topic – The Gallery: Insular, Intrusive or Indispensable? – and very amusing he was too. No real reference to how media is changing, unlike second speaker Margaret Simons who really seems to get that the business model is not changing but HAS changed.

Margaret Simons asked – where’s the money in newspapers? Are journalists and editors defunct? Advertising has been seperated out online (e.g. realestate.com.au) from features and articles, so where’s the income now? Margaret made no mention of dialogue and how politics will change if online communities are given a collaborative role in both the policy making and the reporting of those policies. But I think she just didn’t have enough time.

The third speaker, Stephen Matchett also from The Australian doesn’t seem to take user generated content seriously – journalists will always be there because, well, they report the news??? Yet he seemed to understand and indeed made the point that graduates with solid accounting and economic degrees are needed as journalists in business sectors, that journalists need more than a journalism degree. So my question is this… why can’t (over) educated, passionate, committed writers create blogs and content about areas they not only have thorough knowledge of, but live and breathe? And why wouldn’t a content aggregator/editor pull feeds from those users who create such compelling content? How’s this for a reality tv-show concept – take a high school student who is idealistic and passionate about an area of policy (education, health) and ask them to become a press gallery journo in 8 weeks. We get to vote ’em off each week if they don’t a) get to grips with policy, b) find out the dirt on private lives, c) fail to utilise MS Word’s grammar and spell checker. heh.

As for the press gallery, hmmmm. If someone created an online community, and built it up large and brash, links to policy documents would be fed through the forums and online content, gossip and innuendo would be anonymously posted to be followed up, debated, rebuffed, whatever, by the participants – not just the small circle of apparatchiks who service the system but The Great Unwashed would participate. Scary huh? Then it would be fed back out into the real world via RSS feeds. And at zero cost. People already do this stuff for free…. Politics is changing, journalism is changing. No, I don’t think the journalists are safe unless they open up dialogue with their readers and pretty quick smart at that!

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