A new study conducted by Galaxy Research, commissioned by PR and social consultancy Red Agency, has revealed that despite recent mass redundancies across major news organisations, the majority of Australians are hungry for good quality investigative journalism, and more than half of us believe we should pay for it.
The research comes just weeks after Fairfax announced it was cutting 125 full-time journalist positions in a bid to help save $30 million across its Australian newspaper operations, and three months after the ABC announced the axing of 200 jobs as part of a major restructure.
An overwhelming majority of Australians (93 per cent) still want good quality investigative journalism, with 42 per cent of those surveyed saying that it’s important to understand what is happening in Australia and the rest of the world, and 51 per cent wanting to ensure that politicians are held accountable for their actions.
James Wright, CEO of Red Agency, said: “Our new research is a timely reminder that despite the considerable journalist cuts in recent years, there is still a very healthy appetite here in Australia for quality investigative reporting that delves deeper into the stories and issues that matter to us most.”
The results also uncovered that Australians are wary of ‘fake news’ and do not necessarily trust what they read online, preferring to get their news from traditional sources including TV news, radio and print newspapers, with just 3 per cent of Aussies believing all the news they read online is real, and a further 16 per cent thinking that most or all online news is fake.
Older generations were found to be more likely to believe most news they read online is real, while Millennials were the most cynical age group, with a staggering one in six believing most news online was fake or not completely true. Furthermore, 8 per cent said they weren’t confident they could tell the difference between real and fake news.
“While traditional news mediums are still considered to be the most trustworthy, the challenge for all media outlets is how to fund this, which begs the question: how do they get consumers to pay for something they have previously been able to access for free?” Wright said.
The answer could lie with advertisers, with 32 per cenr of Australians saying they would be happy to view advertising if it meant they received good quality news. Meanwhile, Millennials who have grown up with paid-for subscription services such as Netflix and Spotify were the age group most likely to say consumers should pay for access to quality news services (29 per cent).
Conversely, 32 per cent of Aussies think good quality journalism should be funded through a collaboration between all news providers to make journalism more efficient.
Around 1 in 10 of Australians think good quality journalism should be paid for by third-party funding through government, academia, industry and/or public donations.
“Australians are clearly looking for solutions to help safe-guard the future of quality of journalism in this country because, as this research has found, there is a highly engaged audience who are willing to pay for it,” Wright said.
“Frighteningly, with so many full-time investigative journalist positions being slashed, the risk of a saturation of fake news is very real, so it is up to news organisations to think creatively about pooling resources and sourcing additional revenue streams where necessary to help keep the fourth estate an important and functioning pillar in this country.”