The Australian media authority is now considering feedback on the planned creation of an Australian news measurement framework. The ABC’s submission said further steps are needed to ensure the framework covers all of the ways Australians now consume news.

The ABC believes that a full range of social media platforms and, potentially, non-professional news sources needs to be included in a proposed framework to measure Australian media diversity if there is to be a true picture of Australian news consumption today and in the future.

In one of the 23 submissions made in response to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) proposed framework to measure media diversity, the ABC said the current proposal would be an effective tool to measure traditional media – TV, radio and print. 

But this would not accurately reflect the move away, especially by younger audiences, to online, social and emerging media platforms and the influence of non-professional news sources. 

While the ACMA paper proposes to include Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the ABC said that its internal research and the University of Canberra's Digital News Report show that the frequent use by people of different ages and backgrounds of lnstagram, TikTok and Reddit means these should also be included. The ABC also suggested including streaming and broadcast-video-on-demand (BVOD) services. 

In its submission, the ABC also called for:

  • Regular updating of the list of platforms to reflect changing media consumption habits

  • Inclusion of Australian and international non-English-language news outlets to avoid the risk of excluding consumption by migrant and linguistically diverse communities

  • Allowing respondents to provide information on “`other'” ways they consuming news such as blogs, opinion pieces, online forums and the social-media content of non-professional media outlets.

Non-professional sources risky, but reality

The ABC acknowledged in its submission the risks relating to including “independent, hyperlocal or non-professional” news sources, including the potential to legitimize questionable and extreme non-professional news outlets. However, the broadcaster warned that not including these would mean a less accurate picture of news consumption.

Including them, the ABC said, could also assist ACMA to capture and better understand the level that “questionable and unethical” news reporting proliferates the Australian news market.

The ABC said if the framework was only intended to map available news sources for policy purposes, then only professional news sources should be included. However, if it wanted to map the diversity of information sources informing Australians about local and national issues – and to better understand the impact of issues such as misinformation and disinformation – non-professional sources such as influencers should be included as a second-tier source and listed as ‘alternative news sources’ for clarity.  

ACMA is now considering all feedback and is planning to provide information on finalising and implementing the news measurement framework later this year.