By Mark HachmannThe digital media landscape has changed significantly in the past decade, and it’s no secret that newsrooms are struggling to keep up.
But for the Australian news industry as a whole, the future looks very bleak.
That’s because Australia’s Digital News Platform (DNP) is currently in a “death spiral”, according to research published in the Journal of Digital Journalism, which examined how Australian publishers and newsrooms across the country are dealing with the digital landscape and the news they’re producing.
The research examined the content and quality of the digital news they produced in the year to June, as well as the impact of digital trends, including new technologies like mobile and social.
The Digital News Business in Australia, a report by The Australian Digital News Association (ADNA), found that there was an “urgent need” for publishers to upgrade their technology infrastructure.
The report’s author, Australian digital journalist Michael O’Neill, said the Digital News Industry was facing a “media death spiral”, which he said was due to the rise of new technologies such as the cloud, and the fact that the DNP’s ability to deliver news online is also threatened by digital competitors.
“Digital journalism has been an industry which has relied on a robust, multi-platform media model that has helped to drive digital growth in Australia,” O’Neil said.
O’Neill said there were currently around 30 different digital news services operating in Australia.””
In particular, the emergence of the new digital media players like Snapchat and Facebook has created a number of challenges for the DNN, and will likely further exacerbate the problem.”
O’Neill said there were currently around 30 different digital news services operating in Australia.
“What’s clear from the survey is that this digital landscape has fundamentally changed the way news is produced and delivered in Australia – and we’re in the process of rebuilding from a broken digital platform,” he said.
The DNP report found that the number of stories published in digital newsrooms fell by 9 per cent between the previous year and June, with the proportion of stories that were in print declining by more than 40 per cent.
In the first half of 2018, the DLP reported that it produced about 2.5 million digital news stories, while print publications produced nearly 10 million stories in the same period.
The researchers also said that the amount of news content published online fell by about 20 per cent in the first six months of 2018.
This drop was particularly noticeable in the last six months, as the digital ecosystem has become increasingly dominant in Australia’s news industry, and there are now fewer outlets able to deliver high-quality news content online.
In 2017, the Digital Press Association reported that about one-quarter of digital news content was delivered in print, while the proportion delivered via digital platforms fell by 15 per cent from 2017 to 2018.
The ADNA report found the digital divide is a “giant, ongoing problem” for Australian newsrooms.
“The digital landscape is changing, and Australia’s print media landscape is in dire straits,” the report said.
“The loss of the DWP, the demise of Fairfax Media and the recent closure of News Corp newspapers will be felt in all of the Australian print media markets and will be reflected in the news output and content of digital platforms in coming years.”
The digital divide was also the main driver behind the digital subscription model being introduced by News Corp and the News Corporation Digital Media Alliance (NCMA), which would see digital subscriptions paid for by readers through their smartphones or tablets.
The Australian Digital Press Alliance also launched the National Digital News Services Initiative, which is aimed at reducing the cost of digital content delivery for journalists, digital publishers and other stakeholders.