chapter  1
32 Pages

From ‘Rivers of Gold’ to the Digital Economy

WithAndrea Carson

To understand the state of investigative journalism in the 21st century, it is necessary to review the context of its past. This is what Chapter 1 does. It provides a background overview of how the business model for 20th-century news outlets, particularly newspapers, has all but collapsed. The main reason for this is changes to media economics through technological developments such as the internet and the rise of global digital competitors like Google and Facebook. But there are also often unacknowledged political and cultural reasons for the decline in newspapers that predate the internet. The chapter shows what these changes have meant for commercial news organisations and implications for their investigative reporting. It identifies international trends in the financial underpinnings of the press in developed economies, with a focus on the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. For more detailed analysis, the chapter focuses on the Australian newspaper market. The central argument of the chapter is that while the findings provide sobering accounts of news outlets’ economic hardships in developed economies, there is not a simple relationship between the decline of print newspapers and watchdog reporting. Rather, watchdog reporting endures in the digital age notwithstanding deep cutbacks to the newsrooms of mainstream media.