Parachuting high-profile network stars into foreign areas in crisis is the best way to reach ordinary Australians, according to Sunday Telegraph deputy editor Claire Harvey.
Speaking at the Macleay International Reporting Conference about Australia’s international coverage, Ms Harvey said the reality is that people are time-poor and often consume their news from TV with no sound while “cooking dinner and three kids are playing up”.
“That’s how they are making their decisions about the world and politics,” Ms Harvey said.
“We have to get through to them and it’s hard to get their attention. No matter how much we try to tell ourselves what we do as journalists is incredibly important we have to get through to people, so if Karl Stefanovic is going to Paris … who better to bring that story to Australian living rooms?”
But Walkley award-winner Monica Attard argued it was more effective to have journalists on the ground in these locations who knew the area and were passionate about the issues and people.
“We now have these hubs where we are flying people in, flying people out,” Ms Attard said.
“[These journalists] have severe limitations. I think it’s very very disheartening … when I see commercial networks fly in their stars to cover big stories, the Paris bombings for example. I find it incredibly frustrating people haven’t had the experiences of foreign correspondents.”
Ms Attard, who was the ABC correspondent in Russia in the early 1990s, said that 20 years ago there were journalism bureaus for the Australian media all over the world but that was changing.
Channel Ten news presenter Hugh Riminton, who was posted to London and visited other countries on assignment, agreed: “The traditional models of the foreign correspondent is gone. What is filling the space… are those specialist international outlets like CNN, like the BBC.”
Mr Riminton encouraged young journalists who wanted to work internationally to seek out careers with the major media organisations. – Rebecka Davidsson
Photo of Claire Harvey by James Mott.