As first year journalists plunge in to their first semester of studies, they are confronted with many questions about their future careers. Students must consider how their varied aspirations will fit in to a rapidly changing industry in the modern age.
Journalism’s ever-growing online presence and, adversely, it’s shrinking print industry have many students worried about their future prospects. “The tech revolution is causing a big shift in the way our news is being produced and distributed,” says Breanna O’Neill, a University of Wollongong student undertaking a double bachelor degree in Communication & Media Studies and Journalism. Breanna is not sure what direction her career will take but says “I just want to be happy to get up and go to work in the morning, instead of waking up and dreading the day ahead”.
Mia Pritchett, an International Studies student at UOW thinks that the industry’s shift towards the internet is “bad because diversity is good for our community”. Mia hopes her degree will take her all over the world but hopes that the focus on digital media doesn’t mean she cannot work in print media and says, “I do not want to work in online journalism”.
Some students feel more positive about the digital age of journalism. Kelly Pratchett thinks that the changes in journalism are for the better, even though she, too, favours print media. She is currently tackling a double degree in Law and Journalism and hopes to combine the knowledge she acquires, and venture in to the world of political journalism. Despite the positivity towards modern journalism, most cannot help lament the dying print industry.
Many students are quick to point out the faults with online journalism. Meg Grayson, who is studying a Bachelor of Communication & Media studies at UOW, discusses the unreliable nature of the internet, saying that pages such as Wikipedia can be edited by anyone and people will believe anything. “Things get blown out of proportion,” she says, “people post articles by The Onion (a mock news site) thinking they are real”.
Meg has a nostalgic attitude towards the journalism industry. Whilst she’s not sure of her career aspirations yet, she is drawn to print media – in particular, eco-magazines such as Frankie that are environmentally conscious – and radio. Of a career in radio, she says “I like the idea of just listening to a voice…I love the old-school feel of it. I’m really passionate about it”.
These first year students are optimistic about what they will bring to the industry. Ms. O’Neill hopes to bring “a smile and a positive nature” to journalism, and Mia Pratchett says “I hope to bring beauty to journalism…I want to help people realise what an amazing world we live in”.
And with their first semester nearly behind them, they are not too troubled about the digital age of journalism.
“”It’s like anything,” says Ms. Grayson, “it has its positives and negatives”.
Whilst Ms. Stratton is concerned about the over-reporting of certain stories and themes that appear on the internet, she sees a possible future beyond the current trend of social media journalism. “Whilst there is a shift to digital media now, there is no way to predict what it will shift to next”.2