Former ABC radio Mornings presenter Genevieve Jacobs is to join The RiotACT team, developing a series of in-depth articles on key local issues.
Jacobs, who was unceremoniously dumped from the ABC’s line-up last year, said she was looking forward to developing the series of stories with The RiotACT about the issues that she knew connected directly with Canberrans.
“So, the development changes we’re facing, the amount of green space, what kind of say we’ve all got in the direction of our city, issues like the arts versus sport, the kind of pressures we see on regional communities as a result of Canberra’s growth, they’re stories I’ve been enmeshed with through my whole career as journalist in Canberra and in surrounding NSW. And I just want to continue that community conversation,” she said.
Jacobs said The RiotACT offered the opportunity for it to be a genuine conversation and she looked forward to energising the discussion among the readers and asking people for opinions and ideas so it became a true fulcrum for discussion.
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“Online provides a really unique opportunity for that to happen, and The RiotACT is such a strongly dedicated local Canberra voice that it is the perfect place to have those conversations,” she said.
Jacobs detected a lot of concern about where Canberra was heading and whether the city was going to do it well.
“People are uncertain about the future, they’re concerned about the level of development, they’re concerned about what of kind of parameters there is around that development and there’s a real need for us all to be consulted and listened to as changes take place and to question what kind of values are being applied to this process, whether we get a better, more sustainable, more livable city out of it at the end,” she said.
But Jacobs said the Government had a fair point that the debate couldn’t be limited to the same voices all the time.
“That’s a particular characteristic of this town. We’ve got a very well informed community who are willing to step up on community issues but we do have to find a way to talk to everybody,” she said.
“The Government is right to a certain degree that it is only the loudest voices that get heard and that’s not true consultation, so it is challenging to find a way to give everyone a voice.
“I hope that what we’re doing here at The RiotACT can be part of that voice because it’s an open forum, people have just got the keyboard in front of them and that’s the fastest way to engage but it’s a worthwhile thing to try to find different ways to communicate.”
With the traditional media fragmenting, Jacob sees a great opportunity for local news.
“Undoubtedly the future is digital, and I think there is a strong opportunity in really localised content,” she said.
“I think what we see less and less of across the old mainstream media outlets, is strong local content as staffing and resources are stripped away – it’s the same stories around the country rather than stories that are strongly connected to local communities. I just think there’s a big chunk of that and that’s where The RiotACT can play a strong role.”
In the latest survey covering the period February 4 to March 31, ABC Radio Canberra lost listeners across all timeslots and fell from the No.1 to No.3 station with a 12.9 per cent share, a drop of 4 percentage points.
“It’s a matter of real regret that the ABC, which has always been so closely entwined with the Canberra community, is going through a period of turbulence and change, perhaps risking a loss of engagement with the Canberra community and Canberra local issues,” she said.
Mornings without Jacobs, fell 2.1 percentage points, while Breakfast, anchored by Dan Bourchier, suffered the biggest drop in the ratings, losing 5.6 percentage points since the previous survey last September.
The deployment of Mornings presenter Adam Shirley to the last half hour of breakfast failed to boost the program.
MIX 106.3, is the new number one station, leading across all time slots with a share of 18.1 per cent, followed by with Hit 104.7 (15.1 per cent).