Documentary maker and The Age reporter Jane Lee outside Media House.

The Age reporter Jane Lee’s recent New York documentary ‘Yesterday’s News’ investigates mainstream media’s potential for survival in the digital age.

In her thirty minute production Ms Lee shares her insight from a series of interviews with prominent journalists and academics to establish what went ‘wrong’ with the media industry.

The share price for Fairfax alone has dropped from 96 to 39 cents in less than one year and with jobs being laid off, a downturn in circulation and falling revenues, the newspaper industry currently presents itself as an unstable frontier.

“Traditional legacy print media organisations around the world forecast their futures based on old revenue models without really doing any serious due diligence on the trends online,” Ms Lee said.

“I think that showed a massive lack of foresight from a lot of media companies and I guess they’re starting to realise now.”

In her documentary Ms Lee reports on a range of media start-ups to explore how journalists should deal with the rapid changes in their industry.

“There are some small pockets of opportunities, like in the documentary we found Talking Points Memo as a website in New York that started as a political news site. It started as a small following, and now their revenue’s up year on year, much more than a lot of major media companies. So there is some hope,” she said.

ABC investigative journalist Bruce Hill agrees that the key to surviving the changing times is to innovate and embrace the challenges presented by citizen journalism.

“Where there is increasing competition from blogs and websites that people put up for free we’re going to have to provide our audience with something that’s a bit special and with a bit more added value,” he said.

Mr Hill believes that some newspapers only have themselves to blame for falling revenues as they are alienating their readers due to the growth of what he calls ‘committed’ or ‘biased’ journalism.

“Journalists can have their own opinions but if it’s going to start influencing the way that you’re writing and what you’re writing about, your readers eventually detect this,” he said.

“They’ve created a bit of an ideological bubble for themselves and I think the city doesn’t like being talked down to.”

Both Bruce Hill and Jane Lee agree that the future of mainstream media will be more fragmented with a choice of media to suit different interests.

“People are going to listen to people who make them feel good about themselves and comfortable, and that possibly means the idea of mass media culture that everyone shares in is probably over and that’s very uncomfortable for a lot of people,” Mr Hill said.

Ms Lee and her co-director intend to present several screenings of ‘Yesterday’s News’ at journalism schools around Australia.

Go2News Extra: Will there be a future for young journalists?

ABC Investigative Journalist Bruce Hill and The Age Reporter Jane Lee respond.

Yesterday’s News Trailer

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