Friday 24 April 2009

Councillors vote for open media access

By a majority of 8 to 3, Cairns Regional Council passed a resolution at the Finance and Administration committee on April 15th, to allow "new" independent media to have full and immediate access to all Council media.

This all started after I was blocked from Council media invitations, probably a result after my April Fool's joke.

I repeatedly asked Council's Media Communications Manager to 'kindly forward me all media releases', after which I was accused of 'threatening her'. Kerie Hull flat out refused my request, then told me that "any further communication should be sent to the CEO".

Noel Briggs' response was laughable. "Currently the News Call distribution list is applied to recognised news media agencies and journalists registered with the peak professional body – those recognised to operate within the professional code of ethics," Noel Briggs said.

The vote to agree open access to all Council media events, incensed the CEO, and made a mockery of media professional, Kerie Hull.

However, three Councillors strongly opposed the move. Deputy Mayor Cochrane, who is also my local Divisional Councillor, was horrified at the expected 'extra workload' from Bloggers and independent media wanting access and answers to questions. "I've had three extra calls today, you know," Margaret told me on the evening of the Council meeting.

Cr Paul Gregory cited similar concerns. "We need to also think about Facebook and Twitter," he said, in confusion. "Our department managers already have a full workload," Paul Gregory said.

However, the best was left to the last. Councillor Sno Bonneau, who, ironically has had a history in media and journalism, said that there were ethics to be maintained. "Traditional newspapers operate with professional code of ethics," Sno declared to the meeting. "How will they [Bloggers] maintain that?"

And right on time, dependable Cr Kirsten Lesina chimed in and reminded the Councillor that NewsLtd newspapers had little ethics in play when they decided to publish a series of fake Pauline Hanson photographs. "That was hardly ethical, was it?"

The Council motion agreed to order an "urgent review of the media policy be undertaken utilising the assistance of an independent 'new' media expert if necessary, and that independent bloggers be emailed media releases and media conference alerts whilst the policy is under review.
This decision was a slap in the face following a secret meeting between Hull and Briggs the Friday before the meeting, during which they advised the Mayor that no immediate relaxation of the current media policy should occur. However, Val Schier had other ideas, and knew it was the Councillors that will direct such policy.

The Mayor's new Policy Advisor, Robert Leeds, also a strong advocate for embracing new media, recommended full access for bloggers and independents. "They are part of the media in every way now, and it's pointless to think otherwise," Leeds told CairnsBlog.

Derek Barry, a Brisbane media academic, journalist, blogger and researcher at QUT, writes on the digital revolution, says that everyone knows but fewer really understand, the future of all mass communication is digital, this includes Bloggers:
  • "Although various tech evangelists from the 1990s onwards such as Postel, Negroponte, Gibson, O'Reilly, and John Perry Barlow have long imagined various paths forward towards digitaldom, the more insular Australian media industry is struggling to cope with the emergence of new realities."

    "Thinking like a journalist involves making sense of large amounts of information, making products out of it and then marketing these products. Blogging makes the first two parts of that production chain easier with its hyperlinking functionality and the ease of publishing," Derek Barry writes.

    "However, the ability to find a marketplace for the products depends on the reputation of the blogger. And getting a name is the hardest part. Just about the only thing that differentiates them from amateur (or at least independent) bloggers is how they use a contacts book."
Michael Schudson says news in America is a form of a culture; a “strategic ballet” produced by exchanges between journalists and sources. This is true also for Australia. Schudson defines interviews between reporters and those sources as “the fundamental act of contemporary journalism”. But the fundamentals are changing.

Kevin Kawamoto says the reason the rules of journalism are in a state of flux is because of the difficulty of how to define the “real media” in a digital age.

Derek Barry continues...
  • "There is a good example of this in Far North Queensland where Michael Moore runs the muckraking site," Derek Barry says. "The site provides valuable fourth estate coverage of local politics in a town where there is not much competition.

    Moore is in every sense a journalist and has gotten himself onto the circulation list of Cairns Regional Council media releases. But now he says he has been barred from attending their media events. When he asked the council why he was excluded, he was told that media conference alerts are only issued to “accredited news agencies and their representatives”.

    "But as Moore commented, accredited news agencies are a “modern invention, up there with crop circles”. Kawamoto's view on press credentials is that there is now no universal codes for establishing who qualifies as a journalist.
ABC's managing director, Mark Scott, at the Annual Media Studies speech at La Trobe University, says that no one is in a position to lecture anyone about what is happening in the media today.

"I don’t think anyone is. We are in such a state of transformation and turmoil. So much of what we assumed to be true about the media business has been turned on its head," Scott says.

"Every month brings a new twist on this revolutionary road - witness the remarkable broadband decision by the Government. In one dramatic act, the Prime Minister’s announcement is set to reshape the future for media organisations, telecommunications firms - and most importantly - audiences across the nation," Mark Scott said.

He is correct when he said it will reshape everything.

Already a number of local Bloggers and independent writers, have asked Council's media unit to add them to the email distribution, however they have not acknowledged the request, but have failed to do what the Council have instructed them to do.

So, for the first time in the 100 history of our local Council, the word "blogger" was used. What a truly tremendous achievement. The Council secretary had to check the spelling three time sin the Macquarie Dictionary. The world has not since fallen in.

Another first was also achieved when Mayor Schier moved the motion, seconded by Councillor Pyne. It could have been a day of fists, but turned out to be a day of firsts.


Blogger Booger said...

A bunch of disaffected media has-beens quoting each other on the "value" of their endeavors is hardly proof of their value.

Only a few blogs have done any more than annoying terriers nipping at one's heels. The fact that the Cairns Blog is slightly more elaborate is testament more to the writer's employment status than journalistic skill.

nocturnal congress said...

Ohhhh..blogger booger...such venom! (Yawn) Tsk, raises the blood pressure a wee tad doesn't it when Mike unravels a plot.....

Constance Lloyd said...

Oh dear Blogger Booger,

Why is it that those of your ilk always equate active blog activism with being unemployed?

More than just a few references to Bryan Law, and today we have a veiled reference by Syd Runner as to Syd Walker's employment status.

Plus of course the almost weekly references to Mike Moore being unemployed. And you BB, felt obliged to join the fray.

I cannot comment on either Bryan or Syd, but by reading the "Disclosure Statement - About me" further down this blog page I would suggest that Mr Moore has some regular sources of income.

And in keeping with your identity Blogger Booger, if it's a question of "Hot or S'not" I would suggest that in this case you are definitley S'not!

Syd Walker said...

It gives me some hope for this region that defenders of the old order are increasingly anonymous trolls - while propoents of progressive change and the democratization of debate feel increasingly free to be named.