Didnt mean to suggest it is all the consumers fault at all. But if we accept that quality journalism takes time and resource, and time and resource takes money, the 'user' must surely be one of the 'payers'.
Some personal observations on media trends: While the landscape is rapidly changing, I think paid media is still the main channel for delivery of news and current affairs in NZ.
As in many things, you get what you pay for. As a few people including Russell have pointed out the increasing disconnect between corporate media and the advertising revenue that is essential to pay for quality journalism is a problem.
Media is a business that is as affected as any other sector by the pressures of globalisation, digitisation, commercialisation, commoditisation, competition etc. and is in transition to a new age; the problem is that it is not a good thing for any of us if media businesses cannot afford to pay for the time needed to develop quality, well researched, journalism. And we should be prepared to pay for it so that the financial model works and quality journalism can be sustained.
Many current financial models for media are unsustainable. Business drivers are largely economic and based on market consumption patterns – ratings, circulation, advertising revenue; online hits etc. – we haven’t totally figured out yet a business model that rewards quality ahead of consumption – which as we all know is not always the same thing (although can be).
The lines are blurring. Corporate media is now news, entertainment, advertising, public, private, online, print, free to air TV, pay TV, radio, social media, professional media, op-ed contributions from ‘non-journalists’ such as academics. People get their news from many different sources now, blogs, newspapers, radio, TV, social media. These changing media consumption patterns in society are having real consequences on corporate media – i.e. how do they get revenue from it?
Media ownership is a powerful factor - but I really don’t know what is the perfect model for who should own it – public or private – what is the best mix – can it be both?
New Zealand has a thriving online news community, PA being a great example, and a media and politically savvy blogging community that are eating away at paid media - The rise of ‘citizen-generated’ media has only added to the business pressures on corporate media. Some of this online community offers very high-quality writing, news and analysis (the crème always rises to the top) and some just offer a bunch of people shouting at each other in a race to the bottom.
The sources of media content are also rapidly changing (PR, lobbying, advertorial, promotions, blogs, Twitter).
Media businesses must take some responsibility in cultivating a quality news environment. The flipside is that because media is largely consumer driven, it is also the consumer's responsibility to avoid, and not reward, media product that is poor, and to reward good journalism by being willing to pay for it.
By global standards NZ has a free media environment and a lot of great journalists. Vast majority of journalists want to do a great job – that’s why they work in such a challenging industry. But any business model that has lost its main source of revenue and is incentivised to grow reader or viewer numbers in order to attract advertising (that is usually aimed at a small slice of the overall demographics) in a world where people have a million sources of free news, opinion and information, has a major challenge on its hands.