Journalism is a field in which I hope to one day make a career, and due to the rise of digital media, a multitude of ever-changing issues exist in today’s industry. As such, significant and specific challenges arise that is associated with it. Throughout the current semester, the QUT subject KJB102: Introduction to Journalism, Media and Communication allude to some of the main issues directly occurring within these industries. What I see as three of the most critical current issues include, firstly, the issue of misogyny occurring within the industry. The second concept is the use of social media as a profession and its importance in maintaining a unique and appropriate online presence. Finally, media converge in journalism. Recognising these three issues will help me overcome these challenges and develop professionally which will help me with my advancement as journalist in the contemporary era.
Women in Media
‘Is there any sexual reason why a woman should be a less accomplished journalist than a man? I can find none.‘ A question asked in 1898 by feminist writer Arnold Bennett in his publication Journalism for Women: A Practical Guide (Franks, 2013). The role of women is changing, as are the ways in journalism, but two are not always in harmony, presenting unacceptable ethical issues for media professionals. There has been a growing number of women working in the Australian news media, but the news of the day is still mostly from a male perspective. The 2011 Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media informs that men still dominate the front pages as writers and sources. In some areas, few women in journalism are writing about politics, sports, and opinion writing (Byerly, 2011). Another study conducted by Women in Journalism found that 78% of all-frontpage bylines were male and only 22% were from female. Along with that, only 19% of women get to write lead stories and bag the top news of the day (Bawdon, 2012). In 2012, New Matilda conducted research into the women in the media identifying that 95 board members nationwide in Australia, 74 are men, and only 21 are women (Matilda, 2013). This report illustrates that only a small portion of female journalists break through the glass ceiling and reach higher positions in their career. There is clear lack of female representation resulting in a lack of female influence in the news. This evidence suggests that female journalists’ credibility and reliability is still frequently undermined by today’s media professionals.
Along with lack of representation, women in journalism face sexist behaviour that interferes with their editorial processes. A recent example of inappropriate conduct towards a female journalist occurred when Carolina Panther quarterback Cam Newton responded to her professional question with a distasteful observation targeting her gender. “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes,” Newton said, drawing out the word “routes” and pausing before giving his answer (Bellford, 2017) (Withiam, 2017).
In a 2013 study, the International Women’s Media Foundation surveyed about 1,000 female reporters and found nearly half reported sexual harassment on the job, and 14 percent experienced sexual violence (Shadburne, 2018).
It is disheartening to read about the circumstances of women in newsrooms today; we should be further along now than we are. Women represent half the global population, yet we rarely get to write our own stories. To reach a balance, it requires support from both men and women. To combat misogyny in this industry, I must learn to be resilient, to educate myself, speak up and continue to show support to the other female journalists.
Social Media Use as a Professional Journalist
Throughout this semester, it has been reiterated in KJB102: Journalism, Media and Communication the importance of social media within the industry. Concurrent rise of social media and user-generated content continues to grow. In the past five years, for millions of people around the world, social media has become a dominant and growing source of news and information (Wagner, 2017). Social media is fast changing the way people consume and distribute news but also the way we create news (Stassen, 2010). Today, journalists are blogging and posting updates on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Working as a journalist and media professional, it will be essential to adhere to the growing social media landscape and to learn how to utilize and adapt to deliver content in a way that is relevant to audiences. An interesting example of a professional journalist using social media as an asset is Fairfax foreign correspondent Michael Bachelard who interviewed asylum seekers in Indonesia (Gearing, 2016).
In today’s society, emerging technological affordance allow anyone at any time the access to the internet and realm of social media. User-generated picture and video scoops regularly lead television news and front pages of newspapers (Alejandro, 2010). Moreover, social media makes it easier for journalists to build a reputation. Many can interact with their readers, share an unfiltered thought in Twitter and amass a following (Wagner, 2017). Using social media is an easily adaptable skill, however, it will be vital to learn how to best use it in order to engage and connect with audiences.
Aside from social media is an integral part of the JMC industry, maintaining an online presence as an individual professional is vital to succeeding in the industry. With today’s tough and competitive job market, an individual must stand out from others from one’s specific job market (Collins, 2012). Having an impressive and professional looking online presence is key to attracting potential employers and even acts as a portfolio of previous work, as well as values and interests. Personal branding is an art of building a unique brand around yourself as an individual (DeMers, 2014). Having a strong personal brand can open many doors for a variety of job opportunities (Collins, 2012). According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring, which is up significantly from 60 percent in 2016 (Salm, 2017). Showing no values, inappropriate behaviour, or display of ignorant attitude in social media can have real consequences when it comes to making first impressions on potential employers in the future.
As a future journalist, I will utilize various relevant outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to develop my brand. I need to start thinking now about the image that I present to the world. It is important to build my online presence showing my professional values sooner rather than later. Therefore, helping my future employers construct a positive image of who I am and what I am capable of doing.
Convergence in Media
Modern technologies have given mass communication media the ability to adopt new forms of publication never explored before (Flores, 2010). Convergence in the press plays a crucial role in the lives of journalist and other professionals, both on a present and future scale. The accelerated advancement of mobile phones and the expansion of social media has forced the media communications industry to thoroughly change the way that content is delivered. Today, newspaper organisations have the ability to include audio and video on their publications. This approach to new types of unexplored formals is what we call media convergence (Flores, 2010). Media convergence is more than merely a technological shift. Convergence alters the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres and audiences (Jenkins, 2004). Another insight of looking at convergence is from The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). It defines media convergence as ‘the phenomenon where digitisation of content, as well as standards and technologies for the carriage and display of digital content, are blurring the traditional distinctions between broadcasting and other media across all elements of the supply chain, for content generation, aggregation, distribution and audiences’ (“Media convergence and the transformed media environment | ALRC”, n.d.). It is the central aspect of mass communication today (Turow, 2016). In regard to journalism, the issue with media convergence is adapting and embracing the changes it brings. As technology continues to advance, it creates a new mindset for journalists. They must quickly think multimedia and learn to deliver their content in a way that is relevant to their audiences. Many professionals are encouraged to diversify their skillset as technology further improves. Thanks to the rise of smartphones, it makes it easier for media professionals to create a news segment for their organisation carrying with them a camera, recorder, GPS and music player through the palm of their hand
Smartphones provide a plethora of opportunities. These devices have enhanced the possibilities for journalists to work and report from the field. Internet connectivity, along with a myriad of intelligent and easily accessible apps, has provided journalists with new and powerful tools for reporting news (Westlund, 2012). Moreover, audiences can access information such as news, but also produce and share information themselves (Westlund, 2012). Footage shots from citizens during the Manchester bombing on 2017, in particular, were used by journalists and aired on the news everywhere around the globe.
Consequently, many of the readers have diverted their attention from legacy media such as the newspaper. A survey by the Reynolds Journalism Institute finds that the smartphone has become an essential platform for accessing the news. 63% of smartphone users report that they used their smartphone to access news semi-regularly during a 2012 survey (Spotts, 2014). Multimedia tools are creating new forms of how journalists tell their stories. Ultimately, mobile technology provides both improved and news opportunity, making journalism “on the go.”
In that regard, to help me with my future career, I need to keep up with the changes in technology, through researching and investing my time learning new developments that may occur within my field. It is important for me to have most current model of smartphone to assist me with my work and use the application well.
It is clear that there are many different lessons and skills, both personal and professional, that I will need to develop to enter the journalism sphere. The field is competitive and to self-prepare aspiring journalists, such as myself, must comprehend the current issues that are abundant throughout the industries, in which that many may have to face. First, to become resilient as a female in my industry if misogyny comes my way. Next, to use social media to my advantage and put forward a positive image to my future employers. Finally, I need to adapt to the continuous changes in journalism. Thanks to KJB102, I have been taught the knowledge on how to approach and tackle the issues surrounding my field. It also helped me develop strategies that will help me excel and go further with my career. Moving forward, I will need to remain vigilant of the continuously changing landscape of journalism, media and communications industry. The skills I have learned in the KJB102 will continue to help me with my learning and me stand out to find a career in the ever-changing journalism field.
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