Managing the syndication trend of online media

Following the conclusion of the 2018, Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia Conference (JERAA) which took place in Hobart late last year, the Mindframe team has turned the spotlight on the impacts and trends of international syndication and how to minimise harm.

Australian audiences are consuming information faster than ever before, especially with the emergence of social and online media channels producing new content daily.

In a media environment driven by fast moving online content, it’s crucial to stay aware of overseas syndicated content and the potentially harmful impact it may have on Australian audiences.

The rise in syndicated content lets media organisations pool resources and share coverage with anyone outside of their own regions or countries, allowing a single story to be duplicated across hundreds of local, national and international publications.

Syndicated articles tend to have some element of international newsworthiness and significance, with articles often reporting high profile or celebrity incidents. When news articles are promoted across the social media pages of Australian media outlets with links to problematic overseas content, this can pose a risk to Australian readers.

With no current guidelines or code of practice in Australia for articles that are written and published by an international journalist and syndicated to Australian websites, Mindframe and SANE Australia have developed protocols for managing online syndication.

Mindframe’s national media guidelines give context to Australian media and communications professionals when reporting or covering a story about suicide or mental ill-health.

These evidence-based recommendations aim to reduce the impact of harmful content on vulnerable audiences.

There are a range of challenges currently facing the Australian landscape including the trend of a combination of international syndication and global media organisations setting up in Australia.

Many of these organisations rely on editorial decisions made in other continents, leading to the growth of overseas content, consequently posing a new risk to Australian audiences.

Mindframe works closely with SANE Australia’s StigmaWatch program promotes responsible reporting of mental illness and suicide in the Australian media in line with the Australian Press Council and the Mindframe guidelines.

SANE Australia Deputy CEO, Dr. Michelle Blanchard, said there are a number of risks associated with overseas syndicated content depicting harmful and unsafe content on Australian news sites.

“We often face a struggle in having problematic overseas copy amended to meet the Australian Press Council and Mindframe reporting guidelines,” Dr Blanchard said.

“While celebrity incidents are newsworthy and will almost always be reported, Australian media outlets need to ensure that their news coverage – including syndicated articles - does not glamourise and normalise suicide, as research shows this can prompt imitation by vulnerable people.”

Mindframe works to be flexible and responsive to the new directions and challenges posed within an evolving media landscape, particularly when there is a lack of successfully implemented media guidelines internationally.

Everymind Suicide Prevention Program Manager of Mindframe, Marc Bryant said the media guidelines play an important role in empowering Australian media to report responsibly however there is no current system in place to mitigate and report harmful overseas content.

“It’s undeniable that we want information faster, but the risks lie in not being able to manage harmful overseas content being shared amongst Australians online,” Marc said.

Mindframe’s work focuses on supporting media to produce news that is responsible, safe and validates grief and loss, reducing impact upon vulnerable or at risk individuals.

“Safe, inclusive and responsibly produced news around suicide and mental ill-health also contributes to encouraging help-seeking behaviour, which in turn can save lives.”

To find out more on the Mindframe media guidelines and how they can guide your story, please visit Mindframe.

If you see an unsafe article, report it to StigmaWatch.

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