A future in journalism – an industry that’s still growing

Reporters at work. There are still a wide range of jobs available in journalism. 

By KOREN HARVEY

There’s good news and bad news for students looking to start careers as journalists.

The good news is, the category of “journalists and other writers” is predicted to have strong jobs growth in the next few years. 

Australia’s  Department of Employment predicts that jobs in that area are expected to reach 30,300 by 2020, up 10 per cent from 27,500 in 2015.

“Over the past five years the number of jobs has grown strongly. Strong growth is expected in the future,” the report says.

And the bad news? Figures from the Australian Department of Education and Training indicate that in 2015, nearly 39,000 university students were enrolled in communications and media studies nationally.

If most of these graduates want to work in the media industry, demand for jobs would quickly outpace supply.

But experts believe those who have a passion for real journalism will get through.

CNN’s Hong Kong bureau chief Roger Clark, a journalist since he was a teenager, says journalism remains a calling rather than a job.

“Our job is to hold the powerful to account and to give a voice to the powerless,” he says. “That’s what we do.”

Clark is adamant that new starters need to feel the same way if they want to establish and grow a career in the industry.

“I am as passionate about it today as I was when I was 13. The minute you lose that passion, you may as well give up.”

When it comes to prospective employees, he looks for people who’ve gone above and beyond to get their work published or broadcast, be that in newspapers, on blogs or local radio.

Newsrooms remain a great place to work for journalists.

Many industry leaders agree with Clark that seeing a passion for the work is a key factor when it comes to hiring a young journalist.

Putting in the time to build core skills worked for Jim Gould, head of Radio 3, Radio Television Hong Kong’s English language radio channel.

He credits starting in local print news with giving him a solid grounding in the principles of journalism.

“The focus there was all about the journalism itself and the essentials of journalism. Learning the trade and learning to ask the right questions.”

Writing for a local outlet also reinforces the importance of accuracy, Gould says, particularly in small towns where readers have easy access to the newsroom.

“If you get something wrong, the person you’ve written about is going to walk into the office the next day and start yelling at you,” he says. It makes journalists accountable. 

Bachelor of Communications student Grace Gowdie, 23, isn’t fazed by how difficult it is to find a job in her chosen field. 

 Studying at the University of Technology Sydney with a major in journalism, she is due to graduate at the end of the year.

Although she doesn’t have a job lined up yet, she believes the competitiveness of the industry is overhyped.

“If you’re going to go into any other job – be it a doctor, lawyer, finance – all of those roles are highly coveted,” she said.

“It’s always going to be difficult to get a job, there are always going to be people that want it.”

The solution, Gowdie believes, is to want it more than others do and proving it with initiative and hard work.