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Where do we go from here?

Journalism students at UOW are considering their future places in the industry and what the digital age of news reporting means for them.

Journalism students at UOW are considering their future places in the industry and what the digital age of news reporting means for them.

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


Receiving and sourcing: How people are accessing the news now

The way people receive news is changing. Reports, however, indicate that many people – in fact, a larger proportion of them – still prefer to get their news from the television. The majority will prefer to get their news from a local or network television station, where as, people who have subscription TV and access to specialised news programs, spend twice as much time watching the news.

Nonetheless, news is more accessible and statistics show that 50% of facebook and twitter users use those platforms to connect with the news. Some reports even insist that digital media is the preferred way to access the news for 50% of the US population.

Many newspapers are making the change from print media to online journalism, at the insistence of others. This requires  dedicated team work to dismantle the majority of the physical print operation and guidances for all employees. Some educational institutions are even working on creating a degree in social media so that future generations of journalists are not only prepared, but skilled in the social media industry.

The way people receive news isn’t just dictated by where they can find it but on what piece of equipment. Many people are now using an iPad or Samsung Galaxy tab. These easy to use pieces of technology make photo journalism easy to access and the screens are suited to high resolution pictures. In addition to this, they are extremely portable but larger than a phone so they are relatively easy to carry around. As a result of this, more than ever, people have breaking news at their fingertips at any given time.

The digital revolution means less revenue for all print-journalism industry employees and massive re-structuring for ay company that wants to continue reporting real stories, however, it is a sign of the times. People are moving forward, technologically and news needs to move with it.

Journalists Working Together

Modern journalism’s technological revolution has allowed for a new trend in the way journalists deal with common problems. Since they can easily keep in contact with each other through social media and dedicated industry news sites, it is easier for them to band together when needed.

Recently, in the United States of America, journalists rallied together against the name of American Football team, the Redskins. The term is generally used as a pejorative for Native Americans and journalists in the US refuse to use it any longer. By refusing to call the team by their name, American journalists are making it clear that they are uncomfortable with using the racist term week after week in their reporting on American Football stories.

Using this newly reasiled power, journalists can fight against the pressure their employers put on them to report with bias. Journalists are encouraging one another to take a stand in the name of ethical, unbiased reporting.

In the Ukraine, a group of photojournalists worked together to save important documents discarded by the absconding President Yanukovych. These documents, which were found wet and in varying states of disarray, were collated and the information released on to the internet. By putting aside their differences and working together, they were able to break big news that affected the entire country.

With the realisation that instantaneous information would be a danger to print media, came the understanding that social media would change the way journalists received news and, for the world of journalism, this was a good thing. It meant that news would come instantly and many journalists quickly understood this and got on board.

Of course, with the instant access to information and media that social websites create, there is the risk of stumbling across unreliable information and images. But savvy journalists are finding ways to combat this, such as programs designed to recognise the origins of an image.

Creating Time

Dean take five minutes from his busy studying schedule to fit in some important gaming time.


Dean Blake wants to create. As a teen, he taught himself how to play guitar and as an adult, he enjoys exploring the world of video-game construction. His girlfriend inspires him to experiment with cooking.

After working jobs he hated, and travelling the world with his girlfriend, he applied to the University of Wollongong for a Bachelor of Journalism. Now he’s finding, between study and commuting to the University from Kirrawee three days a week, there is little time to indulge in his creative hobbies. “[Attending University] has really eaten in to my ability to do anything else,” says Dean.

In high school, he “fell into playing guitar”. His parents told him they would not buy him a guitar unless he could show that he could learn. The same rule was given to his older brothers but, Dean says, “I was the only one who put the effort in”. His friends played instruments and he worked really hard at picking up the basics. As a result, his parents bought him a guitar. He practiced regularly and became very good. He also picked up piano along the way, and familiarised himself with drums. He started out playing metal, which proved to be quite difficult, so he moved to rock and blues. Along the way, he has even learned a few music writing tricks from his brother, who is a DJ.

He was never too concerned with being in a band, claiming “I write music for myself…and send it to friends,” and adds “I probably would have been in a band if anyone had asked me”.

A few years after getting involved with music, he discovered a passion for video-gaming. “I’ve always played video games,” Dean says, “I have older brothers who played and I used to play with them”.  Being at university, however, has changed his gaming habits. Where once he would have spent $100+ on a game and just as many hours, if not more, playing it, now he prefers to play games such as Arkham Asylum, where, he says, “you can spend as much time as you want on them or getting through them really quickly.” He adds “I’m really starting to like shorter games…it’s a time management thing”.

Whilst Blake envisions his future in video game journalism, food journalism, or nature documentaries such as those by David Attenborough, he admits that “in an ideal world, I think I could [create video games] as a job”. Blake also points out that Australia’s video gaming industry is not as strong as those overseas and that pursuing a job in that field would most likely mean living abroad. He says, however that he is “happy treating [game productions] as a side project, like my music”.

He is uncertain where his journalism degree will take him but he has plenty of time to think about it on the two hour train commute he undertakes, three days a week. One thing is also very certain: he has a strong desire to create. Whether its games, music, or investigative writing, he is ready to create and that it is what he is determined to do.