Much as robots have transformed entire swaths of the manufacturing economy, artificial intelligence and automation are now changing information work, letting humans offload cognitive labor to computers. In journalism, for instance, data mining systems alert reporters to potential news stories, while newsbots offer new ways for audiences to explore information. Automated writing systems generate financial, sports and elections coverage.
Comparing the way two western democracies (the United States and Australia) protect – and undermine – investigative reporting raises important questions about journalism’s role in democracy.
From fictitious organizations posting polarizing messages on Facebook to robustly researched news stories being labelled “fake,” the pervasive power and importance of the media are clear.
The idea of the news media as the Fourth Estate has a chequered history. It began life as a term of abuse for the scurillous and ill-principled scribes of the press gallery at the Palace of Westminister. Conservative Anglo-Irish MP Edmund Burke coined the phrase as a way of mocking the gentlemen of the press. However, in the intervening centuries, the Fourth Estate has come to mean taking a principled position to – as Australian Democrats senator Don Chipp would have put it – “keep the bastards honest”.
A few days ago, Waleed Aly asked a not-so-rhetorical question in The Sydney Morning Herald. He wondered how many Australians were worried about the fact that the Australian Federal Police had spent a good portion of this week raiding the offices and homes of journalists who’ve published stories clearly in the public intere
Because we are so saturated in American culture, very few Australians realise that free speech in this country isn’t really a thing. It is not merely not protected – it’s far worse than that. If you read any of the vast array of laws that protect government secrets, disclosure in the public interest is discouraged, criminalised, punished, and deplored.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd argues a royal commission is required to rein in the power abuse and unethical journalism practices at the Murdoch news brands.
What happens when an illegally logged tree falls or poachers kill endangered brown bears in the forest, but there’s no journalist to report it?
We found that while journalists aimed to fulfil traditional roles, like informing and educating the public, they valued their unique role: to promote unity and reconciliation. Having lived through Rwanda’s genocide era, they wanted to prevent a similar tragedy from reoccurring.
The crackdown of the past few days reveals that at least two of the core fears expressed by lawyers and the media industry were well-founded: first, the demise of source confidentiality and, secondly, a chilling effect on public interest journalism.