Paramount newsroom bosses focused on ‘making more, not less’ news

Rashell Habib and Maritn White 10 news

“Everyone’s got an aunt on Facebook who shares conspiracy theories and misinformation, so we need professionals.”

“People want to consume news, they want to consume more news, they just want to consume more news on different platforms,” Rashell Habib, Paramount’s head of digital news and strategy, told Mediaweek.

Habib was reacting to ACMA figures showing that 20% of Australians used social media as their main source of news in 2023, up from 17% in 2022.

With an audience of over 3 million people combined across its social platforms, Paramount’s YouTube channel has grown the fastest, with over 100% growth in the last few months. 

“News has always gone through different iterations as they follow audiences – from radio, to newspapers, to digital, social,” Habib said, speaking about how Paramount responds to the shift in audience behaviours.

People forget the adaptability of news. At its foundation, it’s storytelling – how you tell that story changes, not the story itself.”

Habib co-leads Paramount Australia’s news department with Martin White, VP broadcast news.

Whether news is being consumed on social media or in more traditional ways, White said journalists are “more important than we’ve probably ever been,” as the global community continues to make its way through what he calls “fairly unprecedented times.”

“Everyone’s got an aunt on Facebook who shares conspiracy theories and misinformation, so we need professionals to make sure the truth is as easy to obtain for audiences around the world as possible,” White said.

Habib added, “With the growth of platforms like Mastodon popping up with their own news ecosystem without any kind of validation, teaching younger audiences about news literacy has never been more important.

“Misinformation is becoming more weaponised, whether it be political parties or just your average Joe with an agenda.”

Balancing commercial interests

When asked how the Paramount newsroom balances commercial interests with editorial, White tells Mediaweek that the two operate separately. 

“We’re a commercial organisation. We have a sales department, we have a sponsorship department, we monetise our content on various platforms – however, that has zero impact on our editorial decision-making,” he said.

“We don’t commercialise our editorial judgements. The most important thing is proper news judgement, bringing people the truth, and that is in no way influenced by any commercial decisions,” White said.

The future of AUNZ media

Across the ditch, the announcement that New Zealand’s Newshub would be shutting its newsroom by the end of June sent shockwaves throughout the industry in the region. 

“I think it’s incredibly sad, and a blow to the New Zealand landscape. I don’t see that in the future for Australia – who knows what can happen, but I don’t see us going down that path,” Habib said.

For Paramount, White added, “We’re committed to local news, we’re committed to news in general and making more, not less. It’s a question of making sure that we’re on as many platforms as possible and reach as many viewers as possible. We don’t do that by shutting down.”

Top Image: Rashell Habib and Martin White

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