It all began with a simple news release. I had surveyed about two hundred of my journalism students and found that while 95% said they enjoyed keeping up with the news, more than sixty percent said they read a newspaper once a week or less.”If the journalists of the future don’t want to read newspapers, who will?” I asked in the media release.
Australia’s Radio National Breakfast show followed it up with an interview. That sparked a series of interviews and talk backs with local radio stations, as well as Radio Australia. The story moved onto the web with the Brisbane Times.com.au and ABC online. It rapidly spread across the globe, getting a particularly good run in India in outlets like the Deccan Post (India), the Hindu and the Sentinel. I was interviewed by a young blogger called Ben Grubb for his blog Techwired.com.au. Other bloggers picked up the story, including Woolly Days, who corrected a mistake made by other correspondents in interpreting the data, which had been repeated elsewhere.
Conventional newspapers seemed uninterested in the story. This was odd because the survey had been prompted by by a conversation I had with the editor of the local daily, who said he wanted to know what journalism students thought about the future of newspapers. I did get an email from the Washington Post. However, the reporter was interested in whether it had been me who made the mistake with the data. When I was able to show it wasn’t me, he seemed to lose interest.
However, the international responses continue. Today, I am reviewing the survey questions to produce a “vanilla” version which can be completed by communications and journalism students across Asia.
It will work like this. Academics in Jakarta, Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur have agreed to be involved.
I will send them a pdf of the vanilla questions. They can amend these questions to suit local conditions. EG One of the Australian questions refers to “community radio”; a form of broadcasting which does not exist in some Asian countries. This reference can be edited out, while the core of the survey remains common.
The collaborating academics will send me an edited version of the survey, which I will then place online for their students.
The results will be compiled centrally and presented in an academic paper I will give at the international AMIC conference in New Delhi in July.