Australian government announce inquiry into the future of journalism

The Fairfax offices in Sydney. Credit: AFP/Peter Parks

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) in welcoming the decision to establish a Senate select committee that will inquire and report on the future of journalism in Australia. The IFJ calls on the Australian government to ensure that the committee engages all stakeholders to fully investigate the current media situation and find suitable solutions to the key issues.

The announcement, on May 10, was backed by several Australian senators, and outlined that the inquiry will examine the structure of media organisations and their tax arrangements, fake-news, as well as the impacts of Facebook and Google on the media and outlets.

The announcement came after last week, Fairfax Media, one of Australia’s largest media outlets, announced that it would be cutting 125 FT editorial positions, equaling 25% of the workforce, to save AUD 30million from the budget. The announcement saw Fairfax journalist strike for seven days. Since 2015, it is estimated that over 500 journalists and media workers have lost their jobs at Fairfax through forced redundancies to save money, not including the latest round.

However, Fairfax is not the only media outlet to be cutting staff in Australia. Newscorp, Australia’s other leading media outlet, earlier this year announced that it would be cutting a significant number of photographers from capital cities, with estimates that 40 alone were cut from Melbourne, while it Adelaide 24 photographers were cut to eight.

The situation for Australia’s media is not unique, yet MEAA noted that it has long called for the Government to come to grips with the crisis affecting journalism.

MEAA CEO Paul Murphy said: “The proposed restructure at Fairfax Media, where the company proposes to cut 1-in-4 journalists resulting in the company abandoning reporting of key areas of Australian life, indicates just how serious the crisis in public interest journalism has become. Fewer journalists means fewer stories. Public interest journalism is vital for a healthy democracy. The last week has shown there is great community concern at the potential loss of so much journalistic talent, so it is great to see the Senate will now examine the issues.”

The IFJ said: “We stand with MEAA in welcoming the inquiry announced yesterday into the future of journalism. Across the region journalism is under threats ranging from physical and online threats to job losses. The Australian government should take the lead in the Asia Pacific in fighting for strong and robust media, supporting its work to adapt to the changing media environment.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

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