Australian journalists have a long history of organising for decent pay and working conditions in the belief that a strong workforce is the best guarantee of quality news that serves the public interest. However, in the context of digital industry restructuring, journalism is currently under intense pressure from two employment trends: ongoing staff reductions at the major media companies, and the rise of more flexible, if often precarious, types of journalistic employment, such as freelancing. The 2018 Report of the Senate Select Committee on the Future of Public Interest Journalism in Australia found job loss had depleted the capacity of the media sector to produce quality public interest journalism not only due to fewer working journalists being employed but also due to the loss of expertise from job cuts. The report went on to say that this has resulted in an overwhelmingly negative effect on many areas of journalism, including regional and rural reporting.
For the past four years, the New Beats Project has mapped job loss across the occupation of journalism to develop a more accurate picture of the scope and scale of occupational change and its implications. In this roundtable event, hosted by Dr Penny O’Donnell (University of Sydney), journalism researchers and advocates from Australia, and around the world, will examine employment trends and discuss the implications of ongoing job loss and employment precarity for the future of journalism as an occupation, a unionised workforce, an increasingly feminised sector, and a public information service. The discussion forms part of a suite of research activities designed to support the publication of an international edited collection on the theme What happens next? Journalism and Job Loss.
Our international guests at the roundtable are: Associate Professor Glenda Daniels (University of the Witwatersrand), Professor Ari Heinonen (University of Tampere), and Sérgio Spagnuolo (Brazil’s Volt Data Lab). Also, joining us via Zoom from North America, are Dr Nicole Cohen (University of Toronto, Mississauga), Dr Andrea Hunter (Université de Montréal) and Dr Scott Reinardy (University of Kansas). Local participants include Paul Murphy and Katelin McInerney from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, along with Professor Peter Fray (UTS), and Dr Tai Neilson (Macquarie), as well as the New Beats team: Professor Lawrie Zion (LaTrobe), Professor Tim Marjoribanks (Swinburne), Professor Matthew Ricketson (Deakin), and Professor Andrew Dodd (University of Melbourne).