Graduates get jobs despite media evolution

Friday 13 Nov 2015

Margaret Van HeekerenA Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic says journalism graduates are still getting jobs despite staff cut-backs and evolving changes to the media industry.

Dr Margaret Van Heekeren (pictured), senior lecturer in journalism in the CSU School of Communication and Creative Industries in Bathurst, said the evidence so far is that CSU journalism graduates continue to get jobs but many are going into types of media roles that didn't exist a few years ago.

"This is particularly the case in the metropolitan centres where there are new online news sites and they are employing technically savvy graduates," Dr Van Heekeren said. "Also, in traditional media where most of the redundancies have occurred, we've seen that it is the older staff aged 50 or more that are leaving. Entry-level positions have not been affected as extensively.

"If we look at this year's graduating Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) students who only finished classes a couple of weeks ago we see that around a quarter already have jobs – in radio stations, online sites, newspapers, and in television."

Dr Van Heekeren, a former journalist and TV news editor in central west NSW, said the difference now for the teaching of journalism is that students have to be able to handle all mediums, they can't be solely a print journalist or a broadcast journalist anymore.

"Our students graduate with experience across all platforms, which is why they are still getting jobs," she said.

Reflecting on current calls by major media players to ditch existing media 'reach' laws, and the resultant 'push back' by regional TV organisations, Dr Van Heekeren said there is a case for the laws to be abolished but the argument being used by the regional networks is disingenuous.

"The rules we have now are anachronistic, as they were created in a former technological age," she said.

"The networks have a very good point in arguing for change, as reform certainly underpins the financial viability of regional TV networks. But I think they are being quite disingenuous in tying the provision of local content solely to those laws."

Dr Van Heekeren said the key to local content is section 43A of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, under which there are minimum requirements licensees must meet for the amount of local news and information they broadcast each week.

"Regardless of ownership, as long as section 43A is in place, the TV stations will have to provide local news," she said. "This is why the campaign's implied threat that local news will disappear unless ownership rules are changed is distorting the true picture.

"That said, there is an issue with how the 43A requirements are interpreted. Any regional viewer understands the huge difference between the quantity and quality of news services they receive across the three commercial networks.

"If networks, politicians, and residents really want to ensure that optimum local news services are provided by all operators, they should be campaigning for tighter interpretation of 43A by the regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)."


Media contact: Bruce Andrews, (02) 6338 6084

Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews with Dr Margaret Van Heekeren.