The nature of journalism as a career has changed significantly, just as the media industry of today is vastly different than it was when newspapers and print media dominated the pre-Internet era.
But for students wanting to pursue a career in journalism, there are still plenty of opportunities beckoning. It’s just that what you do, the way you do it; the journalistic skills you learn at university, will be adapted primarily for the new era of online media.
The so-called New Media, fuelled by the Internet and global connectivity through various mediums including social media, is where the action is and where the jobs are for any student looking for a career in media, not just as a journalist.
These days a career as a journalist is really what we now call a career as a CONTENT creator. As we say in the online media business, Content is King.
The Journalistic Skill
Nevertheless, the core skill and discipline still required for media, as a Content contributor, is the Journalistic Skill……in other words knowing how to write a story and how to talk to your audience and grab their interest in what you are writing and saying.
That’s the journalistic skill that is still necessary today. Even as the media industry continues to move further away from print publications like newspapers and magazines to the online environment of Content creation, telling a story well remains the essence of journalism.
Modern-day Journalism aka Content Creation
As Dr Diana Bossio, the convenor of the Media and Communications postgraduate programs and lecturer in Media and Communications and Journalism at Melbourne’s Swinburne University says:
“Traditional journalism is an incredibly difficult area to get work in. But what I would say is that most students that have an interest in the media come to me and say ‘I want to create content and I want to write these things and I am interested in the world around me’, and those are all journalistic skills.
“What we are recognising now, in the university sector, is that while some people say ‘I don’t want to do journalism’, the fact is that journalistic skills are still very much relevant and very much in demand by students, even if they don’t realise it themselves.
“And it’s because that the kind of skills that you need to be a journalist and to create journalistic work are all relevant across different areas of the media.
“If you want to create content for a website and learn how to create that content that speaks to a certain message, that is clear and concise and consistent, that’s a journalistic skill.”
As Diana Bossio explains, the media world has moved on from the “traditional kind of journalistic style”- what she calls the ‘inverted pyramid’ – with the growing influence of:
- social media
- online communications technology
With all the blogging, all the social media comments and the amazing growth of websites dispensing information about every topic you can possibly think of – as a Content Creator – the core skill you need is that of a ‘journalist’. The ability of telling your story concisely, clearly and in a way that appeals to your audience.
Bossio makes the point that, at a time of vast changes in communications technology, an important element of the journalism degree and post-grad media studies courses at Swinburne, is to work with the students to choose what is the best way to tell their story to their audience “and make sure you know how to use every single platform available to you”.
That’s what ‘journalism’ – or Content creation – is all about in the world of online media and global connectivity.
As a student looking to have a career in the media today? Bossio says, it is rare to find an available opening, let alone secure a job, in traditional journalism. In my day, the major media organisations took on ‘cadet’ journalists – in other words trainees or interns – to learn the craft of journalism.
These days, according to Bossio, ‘traditional journalistic’ cadetships, or internships, are less available, as media organisations move further and further into the New Media environment dominated by online media.
“Most media organisations are really focused on the idea of creating content. The focus is very much on creative content – online media, and also, of course, social media is a huge area.
“So a lot of our students are very interested in actually marrying a whole lot of disciplines, so our post-grad in media and comms is really focused on giving students journalistic skills.
“We want to give the students an understanding of the media environment, so giving them an understanding of how social media works” is important and students are then able to add many other aspects to their learning including:
- community management
- business courses
“But you still have to have the basics of knowing how to produce content to get into those emerging fields.”
For students, Bossio stresses that the media and communications courses are designed to give them the foundation knowledge – both theoretical and practical – of the production skills required for “whatever emerges” from new communications technologies.
So, what is the likelihood for students to get work in the media today?
Well, despite job losses in the large media organisations, and budget cutbacks leading to less job opportunities – particularly with the traditional print media – a whole new world of opportunities has opened up with the rapid advance of communications technologies and online media.
The major print media organisations, such as News Corporation and Fairfax Media, are continuing to expand their digital media operations with online content overtaking the newspapers as the primary source of news for many of their readers. Someone has to produce that content and that’s often those with basic journalistic skills, adapted for online.
At Swinburne, Bossio says post-graduates and undergraduates, are finding work in areas like:
- internal communications within organisations
- writing content for websites
- creative careers like producing for radio and TV
- producing video content for organisations,
- writing blogs for particular websites
- social media management
- community management
So, if you’re looking for a job in any area of the media, including as a journalist – or what is now more widely known as Content creation – the writing skills you learn in your journalistic and media studies as well as your ability to ‘tell a story’ and get across your message to your audience, are still relevant today.
Diana Bossio says the numbers doing journalism (or media studies) at Swinburne now have remained steady, even grown slightly, despite the changes in the media with job losses and budget cuts.
“It’s amazing, no matter how much bad news comes out of journalism, we still get students who are interested in creating content and are interested in the media. So we have maintained our numbers. Certainly we have not had a decrease in undergrad students doing journalism and other media courses. Now it’s called media studies and we have different cohorts of students with different expectations.”
What advice does Bossio have for students seeking a career in journalism or the media?
“It’s a tough industry but as always it’s the students who don’t just rely on the piece of paper that get really great jobs in emerging industries. You know how to network, you have used the time (well) in your post grad or undergrad degree. You have realised that what you are buying is not the piece of paper but an investment in your time. You have bought time, and what you should do with that time is make a portfolio, do work experience, press the flesh…all of those things.
“The students who don’t just rely on the piece of paper are the ones who find themselves best equipped to be able to go between industries and to find the new and emerging markets and what’s actually needed in those markets.”
“The great thing about the media industry is that despite it being a completely tight job market, it’s constantly changing and if you have done the extra yards when you are doing your degree you’ll find that you are more easily able to adapt for what emerges…those are always the students that get the jobs.”