At a summit meeting about regional media this week, ABC Managing Director David Anderson acknowledged that Australians are rapidly moving away from linear programming to on-line and on-demand consumption.
The challenges of these changing audience consumption habits and the “potential unreliability of news and information should be a matter of great concern,” he told the Regional Media in the Digital Age Summit at the Charles Sturt University.
The ABC has over 550 content makers in our regional teams, operating from 48 offices across the nation, many of them multi-platform content makers.
The traditional model for delivering news is now under pressure, and in decline. As this summit has made clear, we are well within the churn of media disruption.
Australians are rapidly moving away from linear programming to on-line and on-demand consumption.
Advertising revenue has followed audiences, and increasingly switched from traditional newspapers to the big online platforms.
Newspapers everywhere are under commercial stress, but especially those servicing our regions. This has led to the rise of so-called ‘news deserts’, and a greater local community dependence on information and news, via unregulated social media platforms.
But as we know, social media can be a place where facts are not always sacred, misinformation and disinformation are not uncommon, and sadly trust can be misplaced.
The potential unreliability of news and information should be a matter of great concern to all of us who care about the role of the media across a strong and stable democratic society.
A few weeks ago, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two brave journalists and editors, Dimitri Muratov in Russia, and the Philippines powerhouse journalist Maria Ressa.
I was particularly struck by something Maria Ressa said, and here I quote:
‘What the Nobel Committee did is to show that without facts, you can’t have the truth. Without truth, you can’t have trust. If you don’t have any of these things, you can’t have a functioning democracy, much less try to solve the complex problems we’re dealing with today in the world….’ 
Nessa explicitly identifies the chain of positive links from facts to analysis to trust, and ultimately to democracy. Public interest journalism anywhere in our nation serves to strengthen democratic confidence everywhere. We must never take it for granted.
And the ABC has a key role to play. We all do.
To respond to the changing media environment in regional Australia, in 2017 the ABC introduced a generational change in the way we commission, produce and deliver services to local communities.
With a $20 million investment, the ABC added 83 new positions and increased its coverage of regional issues across all its platforms: broadcast, digital and social media.
Today we have over 550 content makers in our regional teams, operating from 48 offices across the nation, many of them multi-platform content makers. The ABC is increasingly on-air, on-line, on-demand, on screens, and on an app in the palm of your hand.
This is thanks to the hard work of our talented teams, people who are committed to their communities and the issues that matter to them.
And here I want to congratulate Charles Sturt University on its new Bachelor of Communications degree. With its focus on journalism training for the digital age, this degree will equip and prepare more young reporters to respond to the many new demands now placed upon them.
There is no doubt that reporters in this environment are experiencing new pressures.
Fortunately, ABC staff are more than up to the challenge.
Read Anderson’s full speech at CSU Bathurst here.