About Brian McNair

Brian McNair is an academic researcher and media commentator. He writes on a wide range of topics including journalism, political communication, popular culture and mediated sexuality. His most recent books are Porno? Chic! (Routledge, 2013), Journalists In Film (Edinburgh University Press, 2010) and An Introduction To Political Communication (5th edition, Routledge, 2011). He is a regular contributor to press, online and broadcast media in Australia and overseas, including ABC News 24, Sky News, BBC World, and many other news outlets. His books have been translated into fifteen languages, including Russian, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, Greek, Polish and Albanian.

Sky’s the limit – now share the love


Sky News Sydney City Studio, by Newtown grafitti Flickr CC BY 2.0

Former editor of The Australian Chris Mitchell praised the performance of Sky News’ election coverage in a column last week, suggesting that it surpassed that of the ABC’s in some key respects, notably in its flexibility around scheduling, and in the range of commentators and contributors. Having followed both Sky News and ABC News 24 these last few weeks (and indeed for quite a few years now), I think this is a fair judgement, albeit one that has to be contextualised by the very different regulatory frameworks within which both channels operate.
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Whose kitchen rules? Annabel’s, of course!


Annabel Crabb dines with colourful crossbench Senator Jacqui Lambie. Image: ABC Media Room.

Last week saw the return of one of the ABC’s most popular and innovative political media formats – Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet, featuring on the first edition Jacqui Lambie.

You probably know the drill: Annabel rocks up to a politician’s home, or said pollie comes to her place in Sydney, and the two converse over food and drink about, well, anything really – not usually the big issues on the campaign news agenda, or the merits of the latest stoush between Malcolm and Bill, but personal stuff.
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Memo to Michelle Guthrie: as local newspapers die, might the ABC help out?


ABC South Brisbane. Image source: Ash Kyd, flickr. CC By 2.0

The ABC’s new managing director, Michelle Guthrie, has been in the job for just over a week. She has already made it her mission to increase diversity at the broadcaster and Helen Vatsikopoulos offers some suggestions how this could be done. Our experts consider how to improve news and current affairs coverage, local content and digital services and Brian McNair (below) suggests how Guthrie could assist with the crisis in local and regional journalism.
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The death of newspapers – have we reached the tipping point?

conversation - brian

In a 2013 Monthly essay Eric Beecher warned of a looming “civic catastrophe” for Australia if the decline of newspapers continued as it had been in the preceding years. The Australian’s report on a Fairfax plan to dump print and go digital-only, as yet unimplemented but convincingly detailed in the leaked 2013 document prepared by management consultancy firm Bain & Co, suggest that such a move is, if not a certainty, highly probable in the foreseeable future.
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Making A Murderer and the cult of factuality

Image source: Netflix

Image source: Netflix

As Netflix approaches two million subscribers in Australia, free-to-air TV execs have called on government to “ensure a level playing field for Australian media businesses”. The US-based streaming service is alleged to be at an uncompetitive advantage over the established broadcasters, which must follow regulations and legal constraints that do not apply to Netflix. That’s a fair point, and a topic for another column.
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Why the Murdoch press wants to exterminate public broadcasters

news corp

Image Source: Edgar Zuniga Jr., Flickr

Like most people with even a passing interest in the part played by News Corporation in British politics, I remember exactly what I was doing when scandal broke in 2011 and the sense of a seemingly indestructible media behemoth crumbling into chaos and ruin before our eyes. Now, Rebekah Brooks is to return as chief executive of News UK, publisher of the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times. In 2014 she was cleared of all charges relating to the phone-hacking scandal.
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Newspapers in decline, digital slowdown – what’s new in the news?


Newspaper image courtesy Jon S, Flickr

The most recent ABC circulation figures for Australia’s newspapers show a continuing decline in print sales across the board. That isn’t surprising, given global and national trends over the last few years. Australia was slow to join the global march downwards for newspaper sales in comparable markets such as the USA and the UK, showing some resilience until 2012 or so. But now, annual falls of up to 10 per cent are routine.
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