content-makers…in which the audience gasps audibly at the mention of Twitter!

Official festival blogger Estelle and I are aptly blogging this morning’s session laptop by laptop, sandwich by sandwich, in a cafe overlooking one of the festival venues.

Jeff Sparrow spoke to Margaret Simons about Finding Meaning in the Media. Simons is a fellow Crikey blogger, and author of The Content Makers. She’s very optimistic about the continuing hunger for news and information, despite the fact that the platform for receiving it is changing. She predicts the next five years will be ‘bloody’, in terms of finding models where journalists, (or ‘professional content makers’) will continue to get paid for quality investigation and reportage. ‘What’s broken is the business model, not the appetite for news’, she emphasised.

Simons sees the fact that everyone in the world has the power to publish as a very positive and exciting one. The online medium is really still at its beginnings, and I was glad to hear about the course she has been developing at Swinburne, to embrace a ‘new kind of journalism’ – which includes aspects on social networking in order to build an audience (and also determine what stories are of interest, and even gather the stories themselves).

Simons is adamant that social networking has become an ‘important way of staying informed’. I couldn’t agree more, having shouted several people’s ears off recently about just how much news and information I get through links people have posted on Twitter.

Simons is sceptical about the argument that attention spans are diminishing. Nonfiction books, for example, are in huge demand. And she echoed my thoughts that many net-savvy young people read huge fantasy books and series.

If you’re interested in the changing nature of journalism and the media, Simons is part of a new group, the Foundation for Public Interest: Journalism, being run out of Swinburne Uni. Find them via this website.

And yes, there were quite a few clucks and gasps in the audience in this session. Admittedly, things are changing very quickly. It may be very daunting, but as Simons said, we must remember that ‘not all change is bad’. It doesn’t realte directly to journalism, but I think you know my thoughts on embracing the medium.

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