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Adventures of a Girl Reporter, Australia

Fashionably late to 2013

Here I am, fashionably late as usual, with my first post for 2013. I would have been here sooner, but it was hot and I have a pool.

I started this blog in January last year for a couple of reasons. The most obvious, and clearly stated, was that I hoped having something of my own to contribute would encourage me to be more active on Twitter.

A small ambition, but reasonably fulfilled over the past 12 months.

I also wanted somewhere to showcase my writing as I moved out of a much-loved job into an uncertain future. From the outset I tried to make Sally Baxter something I could point at a potential employer should the need ever arise.

When the inevitable question of “well, what do I write about?” could no longer be ignored, it seemed reasonable to stick to what I knew.

It’s therefore no surprise that journalism has featured prominently, particularly as the trade ponders its future.

What I didn’t expect, in considering what lies ahead for journalism, was that it would prompt the reflections on its past which have formed a substantial part of the blog.

The Big Baxter stories have been some of my favourites and there’ll be more of them in 2013, along with the occasional Adventures of a Girl Reporter.

After a couple of months the blog seemed to settle into a natural cycle of three – a Hong Kong Deadline, an Adventure and finally a comment piece on an issue of the day.

Originally I was posting at least once a week but a bit of a health issue in September and into October prompted a rethink and I cut it back to once a fortnight.

It’s a long timeframe in the 24/7 cycle but it’s not like there isn’t plenty of other material out there to keep us entertained and misinformed in between my offerings.

September and into October, if you remember, was that extraordinary period of sexism and misogyny and week after week I had a comment piece I wanted to write but didn’t.

Instead I confined myself to memories of Hong Kong and worried about whether to share the health thing here and on Twitter. Like everyone else, I’m struggling with the protocols.

When I did get back in the saddle, the month-long semi-break paid off, with my most popular post to date, Mussel-flexing women destroy the joint.

Many of you commented that you appreciated the ‘long view’ it provided, a view I wouldn’t have taken if I hadn’t been forced to step back from the issue for so long.

That, more than any ongoing health problems, determined my once-a-fortnight schedule.

It’s not cast in stone and nor is the order of subjects, but it’s a framework which suits me well and keeps the blog in perspective, as an enjoyable hour or so on a Sunday morning.

This is not a journalism blog or a feminist blog or a politics blog, although I will continue to write about all these things and anything else that catches my fancy when I feel I have something to add to the conversation.

I was a Girl Reporter. Now I’m an interested observer and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my humble but, I promise, always well-considered observations in 2013.

Thankfully, my Great Job Hunt was brief but there are many girl and boy reporters out there on the same mission and I wish all of them well in these oh-so-interesting times.

The old print model may well reach tipping point in 2013 and the traditional media has not yet cracked this disruptive new technology. So I’ll be watching and reporting back on that struggle occasionally as it plays out.

Broadcast media is also going to be interesting as audiences continue to fracture into their own highly personalised viewing schedules.

The common denominator is advertising and I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t selling it who didn’t loathe it.

The seismic shift caused by social media is that it frees up our eyeballs to look where they will, not where they’re told. Most of us don’t want to look at ads, and we’re not.

In 2013 I expect more sponsored and promotional tweets on Twitter – and subsequent howls of outrage from its users – and much, much more ‘guerrilla’ advertising.

We’re all wise now to the straight-to-YouTube ads posing as amateur offerings or, most interestingly, ‘leaked’ concept material or rejected campaigns.

Expect more of this and new, more insidious, ways to catch our attention. Be alert people, these folks are paid for their creativity.

That’s unlike most of us in the digital realm, where traditional media made its first and most lethal mistake. You can’t give stuff away and then be surprised when people won’t pay you for it.

Ah well, it’s water under the bridge now and it’s debatable whether it would have made a long-term difference – although I note that Britain’s Private Eye, which has never shifted from its paid print focus, thrives where the Giants of Fleet Street do not.

Back on the internet, anyone trying to monetise their work – from the humble blogger to the mighty old-school news mogul – soon discovers that people want stuff for free and they object to being turned into eyeballs for ads.

The rise of crowdfunding suggests people are perfectly happy to pay for stuff – they’re just cutting out the traditional middlemen. Andrew Sullivan in the US has gone out on a limb to test this one, taking The Dish to the people for its survival. I’m sure there are many keeping close watch.

It’s too early to say what the business model for social media will look like but if there is one I’m expecting it to start taking firmer shape in the months ahead.

In the meantime, people are doing what they have always done on a scale we have never seen before. We’re talking to each other.

It’s no surprise that 2012 has been described as the Year of the Women.

Women, to borrow a stereotype, are networkers and no-one should be surprised that we’re networking like never before. We are tricky that way.

If it seems like the world is on some kind of anti-sexism backlash from the little laydeez it’s because, well, it is. And that’s due in no small part to the power of this disruptive new media.

Up until now, women have been treated as a special interest group rather than as half the population. I’m hopeful that 2013 will be the year our politicians especially get to grips with the new realities.

That is, throwing us the odd female-friendly media stunt just ain’t cutting it. We’re actually looking at your policies, guys and gals, what with our brains and all. Do a bit of work and come back to us.

I expect most of these issues will be overshadowed in 2013 by the Royal Commission into Child Abuse. It will be hard, unbearable even, but absolutely necessary.

In line with the zeitgeist, it’s time for uncomfortable truths, online and IRL.

And cats. Lots of cats.

© Sally Baxter 2013

About Sally Baxter

Once I was a girl reporter, blogging as Sally Baxter. Now I'm writing under my name at www.mariaspackman.com covering the past, present and future of journalism and whatever else takes my fancy. All views my own.


2 thoughts on “Fashionably late to 2013

  1. You may have blown the cover of the marketers following media trends rather than blazing their own trails. Mankind can be a fickle lot but while some get tired quickly there are still plenty of us out here in cyberland who love a bit of good gritty copy/reading, analysis and more than a 10-15 word relationship. Keep ’em coming.


    Posted by Peggy | January 13, 2013, 1:39 pm


  1. Pingback: Welcome to Monday ~ 14 January 2013 | feminaust ~ for australian feminism - January 14, 2013

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Your Girl Reporter is now filing as Maria Spackman at www.mariaspackman.com Same great content, whole new website. I’m leaving Sally Baxter up, as I can’t quite bring myself to let her go completely, but it’s time to honour my family name – and use it. Hope you’ll join me for the Further Adventures of a Girl Reporter. It’ll be fun.

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