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100 articles – ‘The fall of Rome: media after empire’

A 2009 speech by ABC Managing Director Mark Scott about the the role of public broadcasting and the relationship between "legacy" media and audiences has been selected by Chris McNamara as one of the '100 articles' that every journalist should read about journalism.

‘The Fall of Rome: media after empire’ by Mark Scott

When Mark Scott, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Managing Director, took to the lectern to deliver the University of Melbourne’s A. N. Smith Memorial Lecture in Journalism in October 2009, memories of James Murdoch’s controversial MacTaggart lecture were still fresh. Scott obviously saw Murdoch’s attack on the BBC as symptomatic of News Corporation’s attitude towards all public broadcasters and decided to take issue with this. 

While Scott does compare News Corporation to a declining empire trying desperately to retain its fading power, he doesn’t confine his criticism to them. He accuses all sections of the legacy media as lacking vision, of not realising that power has now shifted to the audience.  According to Scott, ‘the power of command is hard to break’ and he goes on to outline five points that he sees as important for the survival of media organisations.

These are controversial comments from the head of Australia’s public broadcaster, and are important points to consider when evaluating ongoing controversies in the Australian media such as the criticism of the ABC’s 24-hour news channel and Sky News’s quest to secure the contract for the government-funded Australian Network.

Chris McNarama is completing a Bachelor of Journalism degree at La Trobe University.

Want to contribute to our list of the 100 articles every journalist should read about journalism? Full details here.

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