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Future looking bright for journalism?

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Only eight years ago the future for journalism looked bleak. Rounds of journalist redundancies and cutbacks had taken a huge toll on the media industry. 

While we will never get back to the numbers of the “Golden Age” of journalism – when journalism was supported by the “rivers of gold” that were classified newspaper advertising – it is fantastic to see that journalists are once again sought after, jobs are being created, and there is much better job security.  

This year we have seen a number of positions advertised for print media journalists.  In addition, in areas like business, finance and investment, we have seen new on-line and print titles emerge, as well as established titles expanding. All needing journalists. (Personally I’d love to see a few more subeditors recruited but that’s another story.) 

The newspaper revolution saw so many journalists lose their job and also changed how things are reported and what stories are seen as relevant. The heady days of my time as a journalist – when Sydney Morning Herald, for example, had a weekly Wednesday Money liftout of eight (and sometimes more) broadsheet pages of personal finance, produced by a team of 4 full time personal finance journalists (and a myriad of freelancers – are long gone).  

Personal Finance pages today are quite different in content these days with more of the limited space given to “How to” advice, freelance writers, and contributors. 

Changes such as these have a major impact on media relations and on how to reach the public through the media.   

Although the financial services industry generally might not yet have fully grasped it, the trade press, both on-line and print, has grown in influence and in some areas it is more likely to reach a particular target audience than mainstream media.  

Another change is that, because of the time pressure they are under and reduced resources, finance and investment journalists are less willing to leave their desks. 

Fewer journalists working in specialist areas of the mainstream media means they are more time poor than ever before. 

Nevertheless, they still seek stories, information and leads. And they will leave the office for the right reasons.  A good story is always a good story.  And an interesting event will still attract them.  

Another change is the way things are reported and what stories are seen as relevant. 

Opinion pieces are more widely used, both sourced from in-house journalists, who once only reported the news, as well as external experts. 

These articles are not necessarily paid-for content or advertorial – although it’s not always clear which is which – and there is no doubt that the lines have become blurred to the extent that journalistic opinion in news reporting has increased dramatically. 

But overall, despite the concern a few years ago that media in Australia was in demise, and media relations had lost its importance in communication programs, we have found the media is as important as ever and still largely sets the news agenda. 

Social media has dramatically grown in importance over the same period but still has its limitations. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, its information can be funnelled to the wrong people; its content is still distrusted by many; and it’s often used as another form of media release, hoping views are picked up in the mainstream.  

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