Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Hold the Front Page!

By Peter Bowditch

The loss of specialist reporters in the clickbait era of journalism matters more for science than other rounds.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Once upon a time the mainstream media employed journalists with expertise in their round. Newspapers would have one or two editions per day, with strict deadlines dictated by when the presses had to start rolling. Television had two main bulletins per day and radio stations had hourly news broadcasts. The electronic media would break into programs when significant news stories broke, such as political crises or natural disasters, and newspapers would bring out the occasional special edition in the same situations, although printing and distribution logistics meant that it had to be a really big story.

Two things have changed since Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur Broadway comedy The Front Page. Nobody seems to employ specialist (or even a sufficient number of) journalists anymore, and the news cycle has changed so that the deadline is always “right now” because the website has to be updated as soon as anything happens.

Apart from general news about world events, I have three areas of interest that rarely if ever have earth-shattering breaking news: information technology, motor sport, and health and science. These areas aren’t, or shouldn’t be, affected by the incessant and constant need to attract eyeballs to web pages, and should allow journalists to put some time and thought into what they write.

A few years ago, people working in IT would eagerly...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.