Friendlyjordies leading the way for new public interest journalism

Independent Australia By Chris Hall | 7 September 2022

As distrust in the mainstream media grows, independent journalists such as Friendlyjordies are on the rise, writes Chris Hall.

ON A FRIDAY afternoon in June, political commentator PRGuy17 was unmasked. Previously an anonymous Twitter account, PRGuy17 had built a following of more than 100,000 with his support of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and his criticisms of news media outlets.

The calls to reveal his identity were deafening, culminating in a judge’s order for Twitter to hand over details of the account owner. In the end, it was YouTuber Friendlyjordies that got the scoop in the shape of a one-hour interview exposing PRGuy17. The and The Age were left to play catch-up.

This was not the first time Friendlyjordies, fronted by Jordan Shanks, had broken major news or had an impact on public discourse. The former NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, a regular focus of Friendlyjordies, singled out the channel as a big reason for resigning in 2021.

Friendlyjordies has also prompted lines of inquiry in NSW Parliamentary committees. It has also been discussed at length by journalists in major news organisations, as well as the general public. The channel’s audience is large and its engagement dwarfs that of major Australian news organisations (see table) and is comparable with international news organisations on YouTube. Clearly, Friendlyjordies is having a dramatic impact, but is it journalism?

Public interest investigative journalism is an important element of well-functioning democracies. It not only reports on public interest issues but also plays a key watchdog role, holding those in power to account. Using social media, it is now possible that non-institutional creators can bypass traditional gatekeepers of the press and establish themselves as producers of journalism. The YouTube channel Friendlyjordies is one example of social media creators producing journalism………….. more,16743


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