When media technologies disrupt - special interest groups circle

When media technologies disrupt - special interest groups circle

Summary: Australia provides a stark example of the consequences of the loss of large numbers of journalists.

TOPICS: Great debate


As the powerful disruptive effects of Internet media technologies accelerate, and weaken media businesses, the opportunities for special interest groups to advance their agendas is on the rise.

Australia provides a great example:

BBC News reports that mining mogul Gina Rinehart, one of the world’s richest people, has changed tactics in her bid to gain greater control of Fairfax Media, Australia’s second largest media group.

Ms Rinehart, whose wealth is estimated at more than $29 billion, has been trying to win three board seats at Fairfax, and wants control over the hiring and firing of editors. Her goal is to oppose the Australian government from pursuing mining and carbon tax plans that seek to protect the environment at the expense of mining interests.

She has acted to take advantage of a much weakened Fairfax, which missed revenue targets and recently said it would cut 1900 jobs, nearly 20% of its workforce.

In the most recent development, Ms Rinehart has reduced her stake in Fairfax to avoid possible legal liabilities, but her goals remain the same.

The BBC:

Fairfax Media’s insurance policy, which is common among companies in Australia, does not protect directors who own more than a 15% stake in the company from potential lawsuits.

Ms Rinehart’s 18.67% stake prevented her being covered by that policy and, according to her firm, was working against her bid for seats on the board.

Australia’s acting Prime Minister Wayne Swans, warned that Ms Rinehart’s bid for Fairfax board seats could have “very big implications for our democracy, we should all be very concerned.”

Foremski’s Take: The Australian Broadcast Corporation recently asked me to take part in a debate about the consequences of Fairfax laying off hundreds of top journalists. My position was that it was very bad news for Australia because it will allow special interest groups to become more successful in promoting their agendas.

The same is true in the US, and elsewhere. Our society’s ideas are mediated, they are formed and distributed via our media. If that media is weakened then the ideas of special interest groups are much more likely to run unmediated.

Yet this problem of the decimation of journalists worldwide seems poorly understood.

In SIlicon Valley, for example, the techie culture looks down on journalists, they are derided as gatekeepers, preventing stories and information from being published. And that it is their fault that their profession is being destroyed because they ignored the blogging “revolution” and the rise of news aggregators.

This is a misunderstanding of the role of journalists as society’s watchdogs, and their essential job in bringing attention to the harmful actions of well financed special interest groups.

Australia provides us with a startingly clear example of this process at work. The weakened Fairfax is an irresistible target for Ms Rinehart and her pro-mining allies, which have attempted to portray her actions as a “white knight” riding to the aid of the troubled media company.

It’s a perfect illustration of my point:

Special interest groups will gladly support the media they want us to read. But we are losing the media we need to read – independent and vigilant.

- - -

Please see:

Because Disruptive Technologies Disrupt – New Layoffs In Media Industry… And More To Come - SVW

Topic: Great debate

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  • Good riddance

    Half the people in the U.S. -- apparently people you don't know and never talk with -- consider journalists to be one of the most dangerous -- if not THE most dangerous -- special interests around. I'm personally excited by the possibilities offered by a new political diversity in news reporting and dissemination. Each new layoff of journalists rids our democracy of another coven of self-appointed political activists masquerading as "watchdogs" and such, while spiking stories and shading truth at every turn in order to advance their own politics.

    The only solution to what they have done is the decimation of their 'profession,' turning their function over to a much larger and far more diverse network of non-professionals. Let a thousand flowers bloom, and may The New York Times be shuttered.
    Robert Hahn
    • Half the people are stupid

      Half the people in the US are evolution deniers. Forty percent of Republicans think Obama was born in Kenya and 60 percent of Republicans believe there were WMD in Iraq.
      none none
      • Yawn

        Yeah, everyone who doesn't agree with you is stupid. Thanks for sharing.
        Robert Hahn
        • re: Yawn

          Only if denying plain facts is a disagreement. Today is Friday. That's a fact. If you disagree with me and cannot be persuaded it's Friday then yes, you are stupid. That's why I chose known, verifiable facts in my post.
          none none
  • What about George Soros?

    What have the so-called watchdog journalists, in doing their "essential job in bringing attention to the harmful actions of well financed special interest groups", been doing to call attention to billionaire and socialist George Soros' special-interest influence in the media?

    If journalists are supposed to be watchdogs, somebody better tell them that, because mainstream journalists do nothing but carry water for the Left. How much reporting critical of the Obama administration for Solyndra, Fast and Furious, or their failure to prosecute the New Black Panther Party thugs in Philadelphia have we seen? And then you have the "watchdogs" at NBC cutting up the George Zimmerman 911 call to make him appear to be a racist and similarly cutting up Mitt Romney's campaign speech to make him look like a dope? What did the mainstream media do when some true watchdogs, the Tea Party, was branded by Democrats as racist and violent, or when the left-wing kook Occupy Wall Street movement, which actually did have major violence (not to mention STD) issues was embraced and coddled by Democrats? They reported these stories however the Left wanted them reported.

    And, not surprisingly, Forenski uses as his example of the harmful effects of special interest influence in the media a businesswomen trying to keep her business from being destroyed by environmentalist wackos. When left wing kooks exert their "special interests" in media, just move along, nothing to see here. But when Capitalists and advocates of freedom exert influence in the media, well, it's a crisis that must be stopped.

    Mainstream media is dying because it has become a front for the anti-Capitalist freedom-haters. The Internet has created a free market in journalism, and the entrenched establishment media is suffering. Boo freakin' hoo.
    • It's not safe with them around

      After watching this for several decades, I've become convinced that it is not possible for ordinary humans to practice self-government when their news collection and dissemination machinery is in the hands of professional journalists. It just seems to be a fact of life that the sort of person who is attracted to a career in journalism is also the sort of person attracted to left-of-center politics. That's of course not universally true, but it is true that surveys of newsrooms have routinely showed that upwards of 80% of the reporters and editors vote left-of-center. They deny that this affects their reporting, and perhaps they even believe that, but to those who don't share their politics the bias is blatantly obvious, sometimes jarringly so.

      If the ordinary voter has to rely on a news stream that has been pre-filtered through a leftist lens, how can he or she make intelligent decisions about public policy?

      The only way out of this is to radically decentralize news gathering and reporting so that people who would not take up journalism as a career will still get involved in it enough to contribute a bit. Get enough such people, and the "profession" of opinion shapers gets replaced with something containing a lot more diversity in points of view. Only then can elected governments be safe from those who view the public as tools to be manipulated, or as they would put it, as "masses to be educated."
      Robert Hahn
  • Confused?

    Are you guys sure you're not confusing journalists with editors (and management)?
    • Nah

      I mean, do you hear of journalists quitting the profession and protesting that they tried to be objective but their editors and management wouldn't let it happen?

      No. The entire apparatus is clique of non-objective, agenda-driven, left-wing water carriers. What a free country needs (needed?) is a journalism profession serving as watchdogs for overreaching government. What we have is a journalism profession that, from top to bottom, despises Capitalism, business and freedom and worships government. Oh, wait, journalists will become outraged if they believe government is encroaching on freedom of the press. But everyone else's freedoms need to be someone else's issue.