On Thursday 4 May the Centre for Media History, in collaboration with the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund, hosted the annual Brian Johns Lecture at the Metcalfe Auditorium in the State Library of New South Wales.

Speaking to a full house on the subject ‘How the internet killed my business model: Saving news that matters in a time of information overload’, presenter and former Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald Amanda Wilson spoke on the way the quality of the news and journalism that we consume has been radically affected by changes in technology and social media.

The evening began with formal welcome from the Hon Michael Egan AO, Chancellor of Macquarie University, who paid tribute to Brian Johns and members of his family who were in the audience. Noting the timely nature of the address (two days into the Faifax Media journalists’ strike), Egan posed the questions: How did we get to this point and where to next for journalism?

Ms Wilson spoke of the fate of public-interest journalism within the context of rampant innovation and the shift of advertising revenues to Google and Facebook. Wilson voiced concern that the ratio of ‘click bait’ to quality journalism had drastically skewed as ad revenue decreases and budget cuts significantly reduced investment in expert coverage.

In her opinion, despite consumers enjoying technology that delivers news media with instant accessibility, quality content was on the decline. Wilson concluded that the answer to finding a workable business model which supports substantial journalism in the age of the internet remained elusive.

CEO of the Australian News Channel and Chair of the Centre for Media History Board, Angelos Frangopoulos, closed the evening by congratulating Amanda for her leadership as a journalist. Agreeing that Australian society should ‘make more noise’ about the value of local stories from local journalists, he commended the lecture for shining a light on the importance of quality journalism.

This was the third lecture in honour of the late Brian Johns AO, a former Chairman of the Copyright Agency, who showed a life-long commitment to the importance of creating Australian content in literature, the visual arts, television and digital media. The annual event aims to facilitate public discussions of key issues about cultural life in Australia.

The speech was broadcast on the Australian Public Affairs Channel A-PAC several times in the week following the event and can be viewed below:

Amanda was also interviewed by Phillip Adams for his ABC Radio National program Late Night Live on Monday 1 May 2017. Listen to the interview HERE.

The Brian Johns Lecture is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

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Left to right: Adam Suckling, Nicola Evans, Michael Egan, Amanda Wilson, Kathy Bail and Dr Julianne Schultz © Natali Olac Farfan & Kirstin Hermann