Crikey has asked spinners, pollies, journos and others about the shifting media landscape over the past 15 years. What’s good, what’s changed and what’s next? In the second installment in our ongoing Digital Disruptions series, we talk to Morry Schwartz. 

How has your media consumption changed from what it was in 2000? Are you better or worse informed? Do you find the media harder to cope with? Do you find it more engaging or interesting?

It’s no longer just the Aussie papers in print — I can now read The New York Times, my favourite of all papers, as if I was in New York. And my favourite magazines, like The New Yorker, are welcome intruders on my phone. I am still old-fashioned and prefer just one revolution at a time — the same publications, now digitally, but I haven’t yet evolved into a social media news consumer. I have no doubt that I soon will. There is so much more choice, but that should be my biggest problem.

Do you still consume print media? If so, do you expect you will in five years’ time?

The daily papers are no longer home delivered. I read the Fin in print at work, but the Oz and The Age as apps on a small iPad before I get vertical in the mornings. If I have time I’ll also read Foreign Affairs and a couple of specialist media EDMs before breakfast. At off times through the day I read the NYT app on my iPhone. I read The Monthly in its physical manifestation, and I buy and read the physical papers on weekends, but only have The Saturday Paper home delivered — and even this I often read on its app. So I am slowly being de-habituated from print, and very comfortable with apps. In five years print will be almost extinct.

Who are your journalism and media heroes?

The New York Times.

Is the ABC more or less important today than it was 15 years ago?

Just as important, but far more challenged.

Do you think the rise of foreign media outlets in Australia is good or bad? Why or why not?

Good journalism is always a good thing, whoever the publisher.

Do you think the rise of “native content” is good or bad? Why or why not?

Terrible and insidious, but probably inevitable in the short term, as it is one of the only ways to monetise the media. Native content is advertising pretending to be news, and this is deeply problematic. The less the pretence, the more acceptable this form can be.

Mark Twain said one should never pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrel. Is that era over? Why or why not?

This era is not yet over, with print oligopolies still ruling, but the power of these will soon be overtaken by the international internet giants, and with them you’ll pick a fight at your own peril.

Peter Fray

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