By MARK PEARSON Follow @Journlaw
Alternative and community media offer a vehicle to combat the forces of ‘fake news’ in the so-called ‘post-truth’ era, Griffith University’s Associate Professor Susan Forde suggested in the 2017 Arts Education Law Professorial Lecture in Brisbane tonight (May 16).
The director of the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research told her South Bank audience it was a tall order to expect the “somewhat diminished media sector” to shoulder the burden in a “neo-liberal era that has fairly successfully marginalized social democratic views of the world”.
She pointed to independent media operating on alternative funding models such as the Guardian, the New Daily, Crikey, the Monthly and New Matilda as a foundation for a “healthy and diverse media landscape”.
“In an advanced democracy, we do have structures which can support financial contributions to media organisations without threatening their independence and autonomy,” Dr Forde said.
“When we can deliver this – a much larger public and community-based media sector that is well supported – we will find it much easier to marginalise lound and deceitful voices.”
She was addressing the topic “The Media in Dangerous Times”, suggesting the traditional role of the Fourth Estate as an effective watchdog on power had been significantly challenged by a range of forces over the past decade.
“We’ve witnessed the rise of far-right political movements based on racism and identity politics and not much else,” she said.
“The media has been complicit in their rise. These two issues are tied together by a third factor and that is the successful marginalizing of thoughtful, informed and progressive views as political correctness and propaganda from a media elite.”
The decline in traditional media revenue streams at the expense of international new media platforms like Google and Facebook had prompted the removal of more than a quarter of Australia’s journalism workforce over the past six years – and the price that has been paid has been quality journalism.
But the answer for journalism was not to place faith in cost cutting and new technologies, but rather in content reflecting “a particular set of professional commitments and traits”.
Alternative media journalists were driven by such values, Dr Forde contended.
“They are driven to provide information to their audiences which will overtly encourage them to take part in democracy – to participate, to do something,”she said.
“They provide what we call mobilizing information.”
Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.
© Mark Pearson 2017