I like Pattrick Smellie, he is one of our better journalists and was well deserving of the Air New Zealand –British High Commission business journalism scholarship award this year but his optimism for journalism after the anal horribilis of 2012 seems misplaced.
Smellie rightfully notes the financial pressures now being exerted on media by the multi-national corporate shareholders who demand higher profit margins regardless of the damage it does to the quality of news (and those pressures will only continue to multiply for journalists), but 2012 wasn't just about the economic stresses of the craft, Smellie's sunny disposition ignores the real challenge mainstream journalists faced, and that was of narrative authority.
2012 was a battlefield between bloggers and journalists, John Armstrong, in a terribly misjudged attack on two of the country's best bloggers (Gordon Campbell & Bryce Edwards) started the fight. Keith Ng righteously took HoS & John Hartevelt to task over their ridiculous National Standards rankings and the manufactured leadership coup at the Labour Party conference showed the stark difference between what the journalists saw and what the bloggers saw.
Journalists no longer have the only word on the events, bloggers critique and counter those views/facts/perceptions which provides a genuine online counterweight to them. John Key was advised during the tea pot scandal to attack the media because Nationals polling told them that NZers hated the media more than they hated Key, that cultural dislike has been built over decades of cynicism towards corporate media.
An industry that loses their economic model while being downgraded in influence hardly sounds optimistic.