Online Down Under

April 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm (Uncategorized)

Australia – a wired nation?


Australians have always embraced the internet mainly because of geography. Australian historian Geoffrey Blainey has written extensively on the role that geography has played in Australia’s development. Australians have traditionally adopted technology to defeat distance in a continent almost the size of mainland United States but with only 19 million people.

This year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that more than two in five adults, about 46 percent of the adult population, had accessed the Internet. This was a major boost compared to the one in five figure in 1997. The bureau also noted that a quarter of Australian households are connected.

Salaries have also risen for trained online journalists who can provide reliable information.

Two experienced journalists at Melbourne’s The Age recently moved to online jobs where their salaries doubled overnight, to about US$70,000. Salaries for new hires are also good. A junior reporter on The Australian , one of the country’s two national dailies, said when he moved to an online start-up, his salary had jumped from US$21,500 to US$43,000.

A survey of Australian journalism students found 90 per cent of students do not like reading the newspaper, preferring to source news from commercial television or online media.

Professor in Journalism and Media Studies at the Queensland University of Technology, Alan Knight, conducted the survey and says despite an aversion to newspapers, 95 per cent of students are very interested in following the news.

“At this stage commercial television is still the favoured source, but online is rising pretty rapidly,” he said.

Professor Knight says it appears some of the smaller faults with the newspaper medium are deterring students from reading them.

“They said that newspapers are impractical, they fall apart, you have to buy them,” he said.

“There are too many long-winded articles, there’s no search engines and worst of all they get ink on your fingers.”

He says the move away from newspapers is of great concern because they are still the major source of serious news in Australia.

“Newspapers are important, and journalism is important but not just to democracy but to governance, to the broader operations of our society,” he said.

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