JERAA 2019 is proud to feature leading thinkers in journalism research, practice and education from Australia and overseas. .
Megan Le Masurier, University of Sydney
(Wednesday, December 4, 4.30pm)
Slow magazines, slow journalism
In the 21st century digital age, mainstream print magazines are generally not in good health and there have been predictions of death. Death may be a bit extreme, but precarity is a good description. In Australia, for example, the most recent research suggests print magazines receive only one per cent of all media advertising spend, and, with a few exceptions, circulation figures are generally in decline.
This talk will focus on a counter-trend of possibilities within print magazine journalism, bringing together two strands of research I have been exploring for quite a few years: slow journalism and what I call slow magazines. There has been a surprising global proliferation of independent magazines (indies) in print being made in the digital 21st century, mainly by younger 'digital natives'. But why? The indies will be partly explained as a contemporary reaction to the speed and distractions of digital media, a plea for a slower, materially pleasurable, magazine journalism. And yet the indies could not exist without the affordances of digital technology: this phenomenon is not hipster analogue revenge. The indies offer alternative mappings of the ways we think, live and create using the venerable medium of the printed magazine. In doing so, they provide a much needed respite from the immediacy and overload of 24/7 digital journalism and screen-based lives. In the most unexpected ways, indie magazines are a form of digital disruption.
The talk will be followed by an exhibition of indies from around the world that will showcase the bold, the creative and the utterly bizarre. With wine!
Henrik Örnebring, Karlstad University
(Wednesday, December 4, 9.30am)
A Social History of Precarity in Journalism: On the Necessity of Collective Action
In the past decade, journalism scholars have started to pay more attention to what we could call the precarization of journalism: the large-scale job loss and downsizing in the news industry (at least in some countries) combined with a shift towards per-item payment and production rather than permanent, full-time contracts. In this talk, I will examine this precarization in three steps. First, I will sketch a history of precarious work in journalism, mainly focused on the institutionalization and consolidation of journalism as a distinct occupation in the 19th century. Second, I will argue that if we agree that this is a problem that needs remedy, then history suggests collective action is really the only way to address the current precarization of journalism (as in other occupational fields). Third, and finally, I will use historical examples alongside recent empirical data from my studies of people who have left journalism to discuss why collective action is and has been particularly difficult in journalism due to an institutional history that mythologizes and naturalizes precarity.
Henrik Örnebring is Professor of Media and Communication and Director of NODE, the Ander Centre for Research on News and Opinion in the Digital Era, at Karlstad University, Sweden. He has published extensively on comparative journalism studies, journalistic work, media convergence, and the history of journalism in journals such as Journalism, Journalism Studies, Journalism Practice, International Journal of Press/Politics and Communication Theory. He is the author of Newsworkers: Comparing Journalists in Six European Countries and (with Michael Karlsson) Journalistic Autonomy: The Genealogy of a Concept (forthcoming, 2020). He is the also the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Journalism Studies. He was the Chair of the ICA Journalism Studies Division 2016-18.”
Megan Le Masurier began working for the Department of Media and Communications in 2005 and teaches in the undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Her professional life began briefly in the academy, after which she worked in the magazine industry for many years (as journalist and editor). She edited the collection Slow Journalism (Routledge, 2019) and is currently researching and writing a book on Independent Magazines in Print in a Digital Age (forthcoming, Routledge). Her research has been published in many journals including Journalism, Journalism Practice, Digital Journalism, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Feminist Media Studies, Australian Feminist Studies and Angelaki.
Nikki Usher, Illinois College of Media
(Thursday, December 5, 9am)
Dealing with Precarity by Possibility: The New York Times’ International Expansion
In 2017, The New York Times set up a new Australian bureau, part of a $50 million three-year plan to expand the company’s digital presence internationally. But why the creation, now, when journalism is contracting, of the newspaper’s first full-time overseas bureau since World War II? This talk builds on Usher’s fieldwork at The New York Times from 2010, when the company had independent outposts in Hong Kong and Paris from which its International Herald Tribune was produced and published. Today, however, there is only one New York Times brand, at home and abroad, and this may well be the strategy that will save the company’s financial prospects. Unlike most other general interest newspapers in the US, The New York Times can reasonably make a case for global ambitions. It rose from a metropolitan to a national presence in the 1800s, first going international in 1946. Despite the broader crisis in news revenues, its current ambitions to be “an indispensable leader in global news and opinion” suggest the sun will never set on its empire. NYT Global, its new corporate arm, has invested heavily in the UK, boosted subscriptions in Canada and created Chinese and Spanish language sites. However, its approach to growth brings to bear questions about power and privilege, from who gets covered, and how global audiences are understood, to where The Times is willing to make new investments. Ultimately, The Times is dealing with precarity by exploiting possibility - touting itself as the best journalism in the world, while nonetheless trying to avoid the appearance of colonialism.
Nikki Usher is an associate professor at the Illinois College of Media. Her research and teaching interests focus on the transforming world of digital media, from journalism to big data to information and communication technologies (ICTs). Her background in media theory and effects, sociology, and communication has given her an appreciation of the wide-range of possibilities for discussing and analyzing today’s media environment—from the changing nature of politics and social media to open government to hacking to the challenges and opportunities facing today’s news landscape.
Her primary area of research focuses on how journalism is adapting to change. She is the author of two books, Making News at the New York Times, and Interactive Journalism: Hackers, Data, and Code, and a co-editor of the Oxford University Press book series, Political Communication and Journalism Unbound.
Ye Lu is a leading journalism and media scholar from the prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai and is currently Professor of the School of Journalism and Deputy Director of the Center for Information and Communication Studies at Fudan University. Professor Lu has an extensive career and researches in journalistic professionalism and news production, new technologies and audience and visual imagery and daily life. She has Ye earned her doctoral degree in journalism from Fudan University. She earned her master's degree in journalism from Beijing Broadcasting Institute, and holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Huazhong University of Science and Technology.
Ye Lu, Fudan University
(Thursday, December 5, 10.15am)
Collaborative news curation and the liquid journalistic practice in the era of new technology in China
Media sociologists have warned us of the crisis of journalism (Zelizer, 2015), reflected in social changes where journalism struggles, and in the decline of journalistic professionalism and its operational principles which are based on modern democratic politics, a market economy, and the specialized division of labor and professional autonomy (Carlson, 2011; Li, 2015). In the era of new technology where everyone is able to spread news, there are various adaptive mechanisms and practices for the production of news information that unfold beyond the news production logic of news organizations (Robinson & Deshano, 2011). Forces inside and outside the news industry have significantly and quickly shifted the economic and social landscape that journalists and news organizations are struggling to adapt (Usher, 2019).
Based on field research and case studies of Chinese online journalistic outlets and user generated content (UCG), we propose a multi-dimensional concept of “liquid journalism” to summarize and explain the characteristics of this new form of communication—that is “random acts of journalism” (Lasica, 2003)—organized by non-professional journalists, which results in content that is different from that produced by mass media organizations. It is also collaborative news curation (Bruns, 2011), which is based on the discovery, sharing and commentary of the Internet users’ community and the public on newsworthy events and information.
The “liquid journalism” presents that everyone—including journalists and citizens—are constituted as nodes in a network of dynamic (re) configuration, impacting one another, reshaping or even shattering any existing form or template that structures information gathering, presentation, and delivery as new meanings and understandings are constantly being produced. Discussing the news content curation, news feed curation, algorithmic curation, etc., we see the liquid journalism has spawned a variety of practices, offer some visibility of subaltern counter publics (Fraser, 1990), which are not as same as the alternative discursive spaces occupied by subordinated social groups but still represent parallel conversations created by ordinary people in China. The liquid journalistic practice also helps us to explain how some communicative nodes in the mobility news network stand out, providing affordances and opportunities for actions such as information sharing.
It can be said the liquid journalistic practices mean not only the institutional media but also the UGC instantly shared by social media participants play a role in producing the factual basis and the public knowledge for public life in China as well. The ways in which the traditional political issues are communicated and diffused are changing. The ways in which people acquire the background knowledge to form their understandings of communication and media accounts of complex political issues are changing as well.
Mitchell Stephens is a professor of journalism at New York University's Carter Institute. His books include A History of News (Viking, Penguin, Oxford), a New York Times "notable book of the year," which has been translated into five languages; the rise of the image the fall of the word (Oxford); Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World (Palgrave Macmillan); Beyond News: The Future of Journalism (Columbia); and Journalism Unbound (Oxford). His latest book, The Voice of America: Lowell Thomas and the Invention of Twentieth-Century Journalism, received the 2018 Sperber Prize, as the year’s best journalism biography.
Mitchell Stephens, New York University
(Friday, December 6, 9am)
“If Ever a Nation Was Debauched By a Man....”: The History and Value of Partisanship in Journalism?
Citizens on one side or the other of the deep chasm that currently runs through politics in the United States employ different examples to support the same conclusion: that American journalism has recently become overwhelmingly and destructively partisan. A reading of journalism history in the United States and elsewhere suggests, however, that they are wrong – both in thinking the partisanship we are seeing in journalism is unprecedented and in underestimating its value.
For most of its lifetime in much of the world, where it was not restricted by governments, newspaper journalism was loud and opinionated: from the vicious newspaper attacks on the British that fanned the flames of the American Revolution to Emile Zola’s “J’Accuse…!” to Ida. B. Wells’ crusade against lynching in the American south.
That began to change in the United States and, to varying degrees, elsewhere in the middle decades of the 20th century with the rise of broadcast news and the consolidation or demise of so many newspapers. In order not to alienate any segment of their new mass audiences, journalists began to “play it down the middle.” Balance, even “objectivity,” became not only a value but a goal, often the goal. This is what we now call, although it was the exception in the long history of journalism, “traditional” journalism. And in its itch for fairness and ability to be heard across chasms, it has definite strengths.
But we shouldn’t romanticize this decades-long era of mostly disinterested journalism. With so many journalism organizations clustered near “the middle,” the range of available viewpoints was necessarily narrowed. On the seesaws reporters were so intent upon balancing, plenty of perspectives were denied seats: non-white and non-male voices, anti-anti-Communist or anti-war opinions. And given the fear of being caught possessing an opinion, pussyfooting abounded. In fact, the remnants of this nonpartisan journalism have proven particularly vulnerable to manipulation by demagogues like the current president of the United States, whose mendacities have often been treated – in the standard “he-said, she-said” duologue – as respectfully as the truth.
The internet – with its multitudes of unabashed partisans – has been underlining the lesson journalism history teaches: that the objectivity regime in journalism was not only precarious but often constricted and timorous.
Lenore Taylor, Guardian Australia
(Friday, December 6, 10.15am)
The Guardian’s new role in the Australian mediascape
The Guardian Australia launched six years ago but is still regarded as a new player in the Australian media landscape. This keynote will explore the role played by the online only publication and consider broader issues of the current news media environment.
Lenore Taylor is Guardian Australia's editor. She has won two Walkley awards and has twice won the Paul Lyneham award for excellence in press gallery journalism. She co-authored a book, Shitstorm: Inside Labor's Darkest Days with David Uren on the Rudd government's response to the global economic crisis in 2010. Lenore began her journalism career in 1987 with the Canberra Times, before becoming national affairs correspondent and then chief political correspondent at the Sydney Morning Herald. She has also worked as a foreign correspondent. She was The Guardian Australia's first political editor from 2013 to 2016. Lenore was appointed Guardian Australia editor in May 2016.