News in the Digital World

Staff Writer

The future of radio news and the way we consume it dominated a panel discussion on ‘news’ at the ACRA conference.

The panel was made up of 3AW news director Gail Watson, ABC Radio’s Head of Strategy and Transformation Jeremy Millar, SBS Radio’s Mark Cummins and Michelle Stephenson Nova Entertainment’s National News Director.

The panellists offered unique insights in how ‘digital disruption’ is being embraced by journalists across the radio spectrum. Far from being viewed as the enemy of traditional newsgathering, social media is being absorbed into the general operations of newsrooms.

Rather than being seen as a distraction or a ‘time leach’ in a busy newsroom, the technology of the digital world has allowed journalists to reach out to listeners more effectively and build that relationship.

For a ‘youth’ brand like Nova, that engagement is important according to Stephens:

“People who listen to Nova People know that our news is going to be ‘on brand’. We are already delivering what people expect and they what kinda news they’re going to get.

People know that they can trust us. We have a relationship with the audience and we’ve worked really hard to keep it.

“But news will always be news. It’s familiar and we shouldn’t mess around too much with it”.

Social media tools like Facebook and Podcasts have further enhanced news story telling. But they don’t spell the death of the traditional news outlets according to the ABC’s Millar.

“I think if the news was invented today, things would be designed a little differently. But having said that, news at the top of the hour is not going to go away.

I jokingly say there are two things you can guarantee; gravity makes things fall down if you drop them and the other is that news is at the top of the hour.

People are brought up with that. It’s in our DNA. But there are also entitled to get the news any time they want it and on whatever device they want”.

3AW’s Gail Watson also views the digital world as a legitimate part of the newsroom operations.

“Local is what we do. It’s our bread and butter. We can break a story 24-hours a day. On line can tweet it, we can have it in the next newsbreak or in the headlines. I think that’s a large reason why we’re so successful”.

Far from being the zombie apocalypse that will destroy radio, digital and social media is actually viewed as a ‘saviour’. The more we embrace it, the better we will ‘future-proof’ our industry.

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