Online, hardcopy, and subscriptions

June 3, 2009

I must be one of those young souls newspaper publishers can’t seem to work out. I obsessively check numerous Australian and International news websites but still can’t live without my daily dead tree newspaper fix. Why, if I can access everything online for free would I bother spending money, that I’m often pressed to find, on buying a newspaper?

To me it comes down to quality and authority. With such an array of information out there on the worldwide web, I assume that only the most important and well written news is actually published. My generation is no doubt both the most informed and least informed ever to lay eyes on a newspaper. A newspaper lays out all the news, whether relevant to me or not, and brings my attention to stories that would otherwise go un-clicked when I visit its homepage.

The large bold font screams out at me. I may not read past the headline, but at least I’m doing that. When multitasking on the web, as many of my friends do, I will only pay attention to what is of absolute importance to me. It is, in fact, all about me, when talking about online.

Perhaps that is why in previous weeks, my group focused its attention on the individual consumer when talking about the future of online news. Targeting specific audiences means that advertisers are kept happy – something that seems to be getting increasingly hard to do. It’d be silly to think that doing this would result in better journalism. If anything it would see real news and its marketability put to the ‘clicks test’; how many clicks are required to fund a serious news story?

I’m sure that news media organisations know the answer to this, but they’re keeping mum on the knowledge so that entertainment and lifestyle stories don’t take priority over what the news is supposed to be about.

What continues to surprise me is the lack of communication between news media organisations and today’s youth. The Sydney Morning Herald, for instance, offers a subscription for $30 for students, and every so often sends out a newsletter detailing odd pieces of information about its Education Program. The last promotion involved students with the subscription receiving movie tickets for every one of their friends they managed to convince to sign up for the year. I found the promotion rather odd. An online music or movie download would have made more sense, considering I know so few of my friends ever go to the cinemas anymore. It was as if SMH was trying to remind students of a time long ago, when people used to go to the cinemas to receive their weekly news updates. The gimmick certainly didn’t work on me.

Buying newspapers is a habit. For most it’s a public transport habit. Thousands of Sydney’s youth travel on public transport to get to school and university every day. I recall my first few years of high school. One bus, two trains and an hour and half later I was desperate for anything that wasn’t school related. If news media organisations had any sense they’d introduce cheaper newspaper subscriptions to students as young as Year 7. Year 7’s pay $10, Year 8’s $15 and so on, with a flat fee of $30 for Years 11 and 12. Not only would students then be reading the paper, but their families would too.

In these economic times, had it not been for my subscription, I can see no way I would be purchasing a newspaper every day. In the eyes of many newspapers have now become luxury items. In order for individuals to see them as necessities again, news media need to open up channels of communication between themselves and tomorrow’s buyers. It is no longer about now, it’s about the future. Finding out what future generations want from their news today would save vast amounts of time and money tomorrow, and it’d most definitely be easier than trying to figure out why youth like me, continue to buy newspapers. We’re still struggling with that question ourselves.

Tayissa Barone

My ideal online

May 26, 2009

I would create a platform whereby all output of information by news organizations could be channeled through to the one location for people to access. A range of preferences would ensure people are delivered the type of news they want to consume. The inflow of news could also be restricted and set to a preference. People would have the option of having news delivered via portals such as email or technologies such as the mobile.

The platform would also serve as a forum for debate and would incorporate many of the same features of a social networking site. Users would create profiles and could connect to other users in order to be updated on activities and political opinions or thoughts as issues unfold. Users would be able to create and upload their own multi-media packages (much like Youtube or a Blog) that could potentially be; news stories, opinion pieces, analysis, or social commentary. A grading system and a user identification method would ensure that gradually there is a self-maintaining system that filters through and ensures quality and preference. Guidelines and ‘how to’ videos would equip users with the know how in producing these packages.

Peter Kesina (CSU)

I would ask my reader to fill in a detailed survey about what they like to read, hear and see. The survey would get them to list all the topic areas they were interested in, as well as what their regular reading habits entailed. Did they check local news everyday but only check national and international daily? Were they more interested in news/lifestyle blogs than actual news stories? Did they check the news once a day, or every hour? I’d then ask them how they’d like the content presented, do they prefer video news stories over printed ones? Would they like all their news Twitter style in under 140 characters?
Then through some sort of computer program, I’d use that information and create a “my news” home page as an alternative to the ordinary home page allowing me to target relevant advertising towards my reader and give them the news they want without having to filter through everything else. The page would resemble the layout of say Facebook or Twitter depending on how the reader wished to have their content. A thread with all relevant news would include everything the reader wanted, as well as sidebar alternatives with topic areas that may not have been selected, so world news or sport for example.
These “my news” pages would be in addition to the ordinary home page and users would be able to change any of their responses in the survey at any time so the page could change as quickly as my readers interests.

Tayissa Barone (CSU)

Online news – as Gen Y would like it

May 19, 2009

I would model my news website/corporation on social networking sites life Facebook and Myspace. This style is one way that media organisations can get youth engaging with news and current affairs.
In order to make the business a viable one I would encourage users to log into their account, much like you do with the current Facebook set-up. Users would pay an annual fee to maintain their account. Their account would be modeled on their particular news needs – i.e. if they were keen to keep up-to-date with business and financial news they would able to access these kind of stories in-depth as well the opinion pieces by important people in the business world.
They would nominate their desired “areas” in the sign-up process.
Only paying account users could leave comments about stories.
To cater for those who just want a general scan of the headlines there would be the ‘home-page’ of the website which would have all the latest headlines updated frequently. There would be only headlines and a one or two par story – perhaps the contributing journalists would be restricted to 50 characters – as on Twitter.
However, to cater to the citizen journalism market there would be a link on the homepage so general users – i.e. not always the paying customers – could upload the stories and videos that they find.
I think the popularity of social networking sites is not likely to fade and that things like Twitter are only going to be on the the rise so I think for survival in the digital age media organisations will need to mould their news to this. In many ways though I think audiences have become accustomed to not paying anything when they access information online so it will be difficult to include a price tag onto online news as there will always be places and sources where people can access the news they need, for free much like you can with music these days.
Emily Boyle (CSU)

I would establish a system that required readers to create a free profile. Users would need to provide basic information about themselves such as location, age and gender as well as specific interest areas such as politics, celebrity gossip, music, art and business. Members would be able to specify their interests even further, for example specifying a certain genre of music such as dance or punk, or specifying an area of politics such as state, federal or international. News articles would then be filtered to the member based on the information they have provided. These news articles would incorporate a range of media such as recorded interviews, video footage and links to further information on the subject. I would also include a service that uses a member’s geographic location to provide a link to a more locally based paper owned by ‘my’ corporation. These services would provide members with instant access to news they have an interest in and allow them expand their knowledge of subjects through added content and links. It would be a logical expansion of features such as “10 most popular news stories” already used by news websites.

Josh Manning (CSU)

Where did hard news go?

April 28, 2009

Our group decided to look into why the media is shifting from reporting hard news stories to covering more stories on entertainment and celebrities. Although entertainment and celebrity are both news values, it seems that they have taken a front row when it comes to choosing stories that will be broadcast/published. Why are Britney Spears and Paris Hilton headlining our news bulletins? Are media empires more concerned with sales and ratings rather than hard news? Is there too much to report on celebrities that there is no room for other news? Have our news values changed?


Over the last one hundred years interest in celebrities has risen. An increase in technology has led to celebrities becoming the victims of constant media attention. Our obsession with Hollywood scandal exploded with the proliferation of cable television broadcasts and other media which meant that celebrity and entertainment stories were pushing hard news stories off news broadcasts and the front pages of newspapers. Everyone agreed that entertainment and celebrity news should be reported but rarely did a celebrity story make front page. Now, however, it’s a different story everywhere we turn today there seems to be pictures or stories of celebrities. When we line up at the checkout to pay for groceries we are surrounded by Magazines carrying the latest story on the current ‘IT’ girl or guy or attempting to shock with the latest antics by Hollywoods troubled. Even when we open up the paper – both the daily paper and Sunday paper – there is a section dedicated to celebrity gossip. TV news bulletins contain celebrity gossip. We can’t even wake up in the morning and turn on the TV without hearing of Britney’s latest fall to rock bottom. Although there isn’t an exact date and time when celebrity news stories became so popular many people believe that the O.J Simpson murder scandal during the mid 1990’s saw the turning point in the public’s attitude to news coverage.


Could it be that journalists are becoming too lazy? Some of the best stories require persistence and a lot of effort to uncover. Are freedom of information laws too strict that journalist don’t have the money or resources to access certain information? Or is it just a simple matter of popularity?

We decided to ask people if they would prefer a celebrity story to a hard news story and 86% said celebrity news stories interest them more than serious news stories. With the majority of consumers wanting to know the latest celebrity gossip it seems only natural that media organisations will provide them with it. This will lead to larger sales and higher ratings which will result in more advertising revenue. There is a lot of money to be made out of celebrity and entertainment news. If you get the exclusive coverage of an awards ceremony or the only interview with a fresh out of jail Paris Hilton. As we said in a previous post, it’s no secret that the media is a profitable organisation that needs to make money to survive. Although many would agree that journalistic values should not be sacrificed for economic reward.


The much-sought-after younger generation has a never-ending need for juicy celebrity news and media organisations are more than happy to give it to them, no matter how low they have to go to get it. Sex, nudity and exposes of the private lives of people have replaced news and information in the popular press. It seems nowadays more often than not a story on a celebrity will be chosen over a hard hitting news story. Instead of journalists pursuing hard news stories their time is spent chasing rumours about celebrities.

Thank you for your time and feel free to comment on our blog or leave suggestions for ideas. We will be continuing our blog when we return to on-campus studies in early May.

Erin Somerville

Elyce Kolder

Caterina Fraga Matos

Stephanie Borys

Natalie Whiting

Natalie Howarth

Time to come clean

April 21, 2009

Time to come clean.

When you ask students why they don’t buy newspapers, watch television news or tune into radio news their excuses will all lead in a similar direction: Time.

Generation Y have all the immediacy of an emergency news bulletin with none of the substance.

When your day to day existence is made up of instant messaging and live feed, it’s no wonder our generation think they are too busy and important to inform themselves of the outside world. They have been taught by adoring, pampering parents and over-paid teachers that their world is the most important.

Generation Y have grown up in an environment that panders to their every need. They can get almost anything they want when they want it, and this is just as true of communication mediums. Theirs is literally a world of choice. Funnily enough, the generation who live in a world which has become a smaller place because of communication, is only interested in their tiny microcosm. If something doesn’t affect a Gen Y they can’t see the importance of knowing about it. Facebook and Twitter are clear testiment to this.

Although there are the odd class full of communication students who feel the need to keep up to date with news and current affairs, this minority are not going to keep an entire diverse industry alive.

It all boils down to one thing. Generation Y is simply too lazy.

The excuse of “I’m simply too busy” is just that. An excuse. If they find time to check their Facebook thirty times a day, they can certainly check the news online. But if it came down to a power battle between the Sydney Morning Herald online and Facebook, the latter would certainly win.

The problem of decline in media consumption has been debated by many journalism students. The format of a newspaper has been called outdated and cumbersome, the television news restrictive, and online platforms accused of being daunting and badly researched. But the problem is less about news media and more about Gen Y’s favourite topic: US.

The battle that news media is losing is not one of content but care factor. And currently gen Y’s is almost zero. Perhaps, then, it shouldn’t be a battle, but a compromise. It would be impossible to convince an adolescent that “real news” is more important than the student microcosm. However, an obvious old adage comes to mind.

If Mohammed won’t come to the mountain…

If students are too lazy to access the media that is so readily at their fingertips, why not seek out the places they are frequenting.

If The Australian online had a Facebook group that posted live news updates on my homepage and during the thirty times a day I checked it something interested me, I would certainly click a link to their site. This way, I get the most essential information, I do even less work and the news media site gets more hits. Everybody wins.

All without me ever knowing I left the microcosm.

And this way we can all stop pretending we’re time poor.

Contributed by Courtney Colborne, Shannon Cuthbert, Emily Boyle, Peter Kesina, Tayissa Barone, Elizabeth Grant

We want our “news” to be “new”

April 7, 2009

After having a closer look into the surveys we asked people to complete recently, we compiled a list of things that people didn’t like about news coverage. The most common things that came up were the exhaustion of stories and the sensationalism of news. We decided to look into and question why the media does this, as well as take a quick look into news values and the quality vs. quantity of news. Read the rest of this entry »

Going deeeper into Gen Y media habits

March 31, 2009

After examining ourselves as media consumers in our last blog, we turned our focus outward this week in an attempt to gauge a wider spectrum of media consumption patterns among people our age, and especially those who are not journalism students.  We interviewed a group of 32 university students from different faculties, all aged between 18-22 years and all originally from different localities. Read the rest of this entry »

The Facebook generation

March 24, 2009

Adults have long claimed that youth speak a different language and that is primarily because of the platter of various technologies served to us during our everyday activities. Read the rest of this entry »

From Twitter to the race guide

March 18, 2009

Focus Group 3 enters the discussion about what works and what doesn’t in media for Gen Y in four “news story” formats.


Not so Twitastic, after all

By Vanessa Lawrence


Facebook and I have been going steady for two years, now. I think it’s getting serious. After all, what more could you ask for in a partner? He’s always there for me when I need him and he never talks back. Perfection. Read the rest of this entry »

Why students prefer the Net

March 16, 2009

Our second “focus group” of journalism students

 reports on their media consumption habits.

Please respond with specific questions/issues

you would like them to address. Read the rest of this entry »