What to Expect as a Media Professional

Throughout the semester, in Introduction to Journalism, Media and Communication studies, we have learnt a range of skills and topics that will help, or hinder our future professional outlooks and careers. In this essay three topics and issues will be discussed and analysed, through research, journals and relevant websites. One of the issues that affects media professionals, is the gender inequality and hardships, that female journalists and media professionals face. An additional issue that journalist’s and media professionals face, in their careers, is the preservation of ethical and moral judgements. The last topic that will be addressed, is the subject of innovations and the constant adaptations that a media professional must adjust to, to further advance and maintain their career. These topics and issues that media professionals face, are important and can be detrimental in a media career. However, there are values and skills that can help with persevering and tolerating, such issues.

Gender inequality and hardship

In the media world, especially in journalism, women are under scrutiny every day. Not only are celebrity women, scrutinised for their body and outfit choices and the way they present themselves, but now it’s spreading to female news reporters and journalists. Lisa Wilkinson, a famous Australian reporter on The Today Show, was shamed by the Daily Mail earlier this year for ‘outfit repeating’, wearing a shirt she had previously worn (Daily Mail, 2017). These types of stories should not be front page, viral news, blasting female journalists. These women should be praised, in the media, for their excellent reporting and news anchor skills, not shamed for their outfit choices. Among the unjustified reporting on women journalists, these women also face many other dilemmas in their careers as media professionals.

As well as journalism still being a male dominated industry, female journalists are often targeted with harassment and abuse (Reporters Without Borders, 2015). One in every 20 female journalist is the target of online trolling. Women receive threats of a serious nature, people threatening explosive attacks, to the ‘common’ derogatory remark (L. Ridley, 2014). This is more than three times the level of harassment than their male colleagues.

Women also face a stigma that has stood the test of time, the balancing act of raising a family and maintaining their career. The stigma assumes, they are not able to succeed in the business world once they have families. A woman whose career is extremely media orientated is Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube. Wojcicki (L. Vanderkam, 2015). Wojcicki is constantly asked about balancing her family life with her career, even though she doesn’t have a high presence in the media world. A contrast to women journalists, who are under the spotlight with their personal, and professional issues. It is common knowledge that journalists work exhausting hours (R. Greenslade, 2006), especially if they are just starting out. These hours are once again stretched when balancing a family life as well, resulting in many female journalists abandoning their careers once they become mothers (A. Perkins, 2001). In a survey conducted by TIME Magazine in 2014, it was shown that the female representation in newsrooms had increased very slowly in the past 15 years, rising by only 0.6% (C. Alter, 2014).

The lack of female journalists may be scarce due to the misconception, that it’s a dying trade, or ultimately because women already face enough scrutiny and under the spotlight this may be heightened. From personal experience, the fear of criticism can scare women away from pursuing their dream career.  As a female pursuing this type of career, it can be daunting and downright terrifying. However, having female role models and learning about the industry, through panels, with female media professional’s perspectives is extremely helpful and enlightening. Furthermore, having resilience, tolerance and perseverance are values I uphold that I believe, will help me as I venture into a career as a woman in the media industry. Women in the past and present face many hardships and road blocks in the media and journalism industry but this can be changed through representation and the growing acceptance of women, in journalism and media industries.

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retrieved from https://genderreport.com/category/findings-and-statistics/

 Ethics

Upholding ethical values is something that media professionals have the option and risk, to exploit or retain within their careers. There are confidentiality moral issues and ethical issues that arise from the growth of fast paced media. Generally, the common person, holds great morals and rational thinking. However, when faced with exploitation or decisions, journalists must make ethical decisions to overcome these. The ethics that journalists must uphold are becoming increasingly important in the progressively globalised world (M. P. Kovačič, 2016). As a student studying journalism and PR, maintaining ethics and using my moral compass is something that I know I will continue to develop, to prepare for and decide on, in my career.

In newswriting journalism, the ethics and morals of the journalist must be upheld in the gathering and consumption of the media. David Berry stated, “that media ethics is about enlightenment journalism, while commercialism is responsible for the slow and steady decline into the moral abyss,” (Lazaroiu, G. 2011), he did not put all the blame on journalists but insinuated that they are a facilitator. An example of an ethical dilemma, is that of the journalist Nick Martin-Clark. Martin-Clark is a freelance journalist that was developing a story about prisoners in Northern Ireland. Under confidentiality the prisoner confessed to Martin-Clark, that he had in fact committed the murders he was charged for. Martin-Clark had the moral dilemma of keeping the prisoner’s confidentiality or keeping the public informed and safe (Journalism in a Digital Age, 2017). As a result of releasing this information to the public and police, Martin-Clark was expelled from his union and put in witness protection. Martin-Clark knew that this information needed to be released regardless of confidentiality (Sydney Smith, 2010) and controversially acted on his own moral and ethical requirements. Confidentiality plays a major role in journalism as some people may want to stay anonymous but it’s up to journalists, to decide whether it goes against their morals and if it is ethical to release the information.

Confidentiality is one ethical issue journalists face but another is the issues that arise from the growth, in the fast paced media world. The issue that arises from the evolution of fast paced media is the constant struggle between wanting to get information to the public as quick as possible but corroborating all the facts. The quality of journalism stories is, sometimes, more important than the quantity. An example of quality over quantity is the story of ‘The Bulletin’ journalist, Daniel Burdon. Burdon reported during the 2011 floods that 30 thousand pigs had been swept away in the flood waters (The Bulletin, 2011). If Burdon hadn’t been in such a haste to release his story he would’ve been corrected by the interviewee who stated there were, “30 sows and pigs,” (ABC Media Watch, 2011). The story of the thirty thousand pigs was picked up by many media establishments, creating an even bigger dilemma. This is an example of the need to produce fast paced media, causing havoc and incorrect facts.

Both of these ethical and moral examples, show that fact checking and questioning yourself as a journalist is vital in maintaining your own morals and saving yourself from humiliation or scrutiny. As a public relations major these ethical issues also apply as there is the battle of releasing truthful information or keeping a client’s formality. Ethical issues are something media professionals will always face in their careers and must overcome.  To overcome ethical issues like this, I hold the value of respect but also responsibility and trust need to be sustained in order to maintain morality.

Adaptation and innovation

In all media professions there are constant new innovations and the need to adapt to the changes. In the journalism world these innovations are not always limited to just technologies. As a journalism or media professional the need to adapt to new innovations is detrimental to maintain a career. These innovations and changes can range from new technologies to new style guides, to a change in how information must be communicated. Growing up in a society that is constantly changing, with technologies and society standards it’s hard not to learn how to adapt.

In the age of digital media, the print journalist is no longer just a reporter and writer, they now must adapt to capturing their own stories on a multimedia level and then report the story in a relevant way (V.Lavrusik, 2009). Adjusting to the multi-level world of journalism is just one adaptation current and future journalists need to make. Another usual innovation that journalists must adapt to, is technological advancements and keeping up-to-date with innovative tools. Not all traditional media enterprises have capitalised on multimedia journalists (J. V. Pavlik, p181-193, 2013), consequently giving them a drawback. To be able to deliver multimedia style stories, news rooms may think they need the latest and greatest, microphones and cameras. On the contrary, to deliver quality content at a multimedia level, all a journalist needs are skill and one of the latest, updated mobile phones (O. Westlund, 2012).

Another innovating change in the media world that journalists need to adapt to, is changing or different style guides. A style guide is a reference point to which journalists must adhere to within their publicising organisations (Intelligent Editing, 2015).  Style guides can differ between organisations and firms to comply with the needs and expectations of the writers and the readers (Intelligent Editing, 2015).  Style guides are easy to follow and relatively similar between organisations. QUT’s style guide is similar to news companies and is essentially common knowledge with slight differences (QUT news, 2017). Style guides are essential in a writing journalists career and must be followed in order to maintain a standard within organisations.

Another adaptation journalist’s may be confronted with, is the changes in which the news must be communicated. In a growing and changing society, comes the changes in which society will absorb news and information. Social media is one of the ways society has changed the way they engage in news and media information. Twitter is one of the ways news now breaks (J. Jewell,2013) but in 140 characters it is hard to descriptively compose news, without protests arising. In an increasingly diverse media world, reporting and communicating in a politically correct way is more important than ever. The introduction of social media, assures that once something, often controversial, is reported on it becomes viral news (A. Lipsman, 2009). Twitter style journalism can be described as disruptive innovation, creating a new wavelength for journalism.  Social media makes accurate and careful reporting detrimental to prevent a public relations scandal for journalists and can be prevented by appropriate adaptation to, and moderation of social media. Journalist’s and all media professionals need to adapt to constant new innovations in their careers or they be sabotaging themselves.

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Conclusion

Essentially, media professionals and specifically, journalists are challenged with issues and opportunities regularly throughout their careers. Learning and studying these concepts and challenges has helped shape the way, I look at my future career in journalism or public relations. Having female role models in the journalism industry and hearing them talk about their careers and knowing the hardships they face, has helped in making me choose my potential, future career path. Being ethical and moral is a constant challenge for journalists when reporting on certain stories. However, knowing that journalists have a responsibility to not only uphold credibility but also gain trust from the public, as long as moral and ethical choices are substantial, I have confidence in my future decisions. Finally, adapting to constant new innovations is a significant part of a journalist’s career. Growing up adapting to new technology and society standards has shaped the way, I adapt to new environments and equipment. As a student journalist, many options are in my realm of possibilities and learning about the issues that challenge media professionals has been beneficial.

Word count-  1993

References

  1. Daily Mail, April 11th 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4399892/Lisa-Wilkinson-wears-blouse-twice-Today-show.html
  2. Reporters Without Borders, March 5, 2015 – Updated on January 25, 2016, https://rsf.org/en/news/women-journalists-commitment-and-challenges
  3. Louise Ridley, 8th October 2014, “Why Female Journalists Are A Major Target For Internet Trolls (Sexism Has Something To Do With It)”, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/10/07/female-journalists-women-trolled-feminism-sexism_n_5946346.html
  4. Laura Vanderkam, June 6th 2015, http://fortune.com/2015/06/06/women-with-big-jobs-and-big-families-balancing-really-isnt-that-hard/
  5. Greenslade, “Journalists work many hours beyond contract”, 22nd November 2006. https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2006/nov/22/journalistsworkmanyhoursbe
  6. Anne Perkins, “Hands up who fell off the career ladder as they hit motherhood”, 31st May 2001, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/may/31/gender.uk
  7. Charlotte Alter, 19th February 2014, Depressing Facts From the Latest Women in Media Report, http://time.com/8788/9-depressing-facts-from-the-latest-women-in-media-report/
  8. Melita Poler Kovačič, “Development of Global Journalism Ethics: Various Traditions, Universal Ethical Code?”, published online 8th of January 2016. http://www-tandfonline-com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1080/13183222.2015.1129206
  9. Lazaroiu, G. (2011). THE LANGUAGE OF JOURNALISM ETHICS.Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations, 10, 162-168. Retrieved from http://gateway.library.qut.edu.au/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/docview/880289519?accountid=13380 , quote cited from David Berry, “Journalism, Ethics and Society”
  10. Journalism in the Digital Age — a project for CS181 by Danny Crichton, Ben Christel, Aaditya Shidham, Alex Valderrama, Jeremy Karmel, https://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/cs181/projects/2010-11/Journalism/indexcbc0.html?page_id=26, accessed 7th June 2017.
  11. Sydney Smith, 5th December 2010, http://www.imediaethics.org/media-ethics-case-study-nick-martin-clark-broke-source-confidentiality-agreement/
  12. Daniel Burdon, The Bulletin, 6th January 2011, retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/1101_bulletin.pdf
  13. ABC Media Watch, 7th February 2011, http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3132383.htm
  14. Vadim Lavrusik, Mashable, 9th December 2009, http://mashable.com/2009/12/09/future-journalist/#XySCI67OoqqK
  15. John V. Pavlik , “INNOVATION AND THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM”, page 181-193, 15th January 2013, retrieved from http://www-tandfonline-com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2012.756666?scroll=top&needAccess=true
  16. Oscar Westlund, “A review and model of journalism in an age of mobile media”, 14th December 2012, pages 6-26, retrieved from http://www-tandfonline-com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2012.740273
  17. Intelligent Editing, accessed 7th June 2017, http://www.intelligentediting.com//resources/writing-a-style-guide-what-you-need-to-know/
  18. QUT News, Style Guide, accessed 7th June 2017, https://qutnews.wordpress.com/contents/
  19. John Jewell, “How Twitter has helped the emergence of a new journalism”, 5th November 2013, http://theconversation.com/how-twitter-has-helped-the-emergence-of-a-new-journalism-19841

Andrew Lipsman, 15th April 2009, “Breaking News (and Making News): Twitter Surges 131% in March to 9.3 Million U.S. Visitors!”, https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Blog/Breaking-News-and-Making-News-Twitter-Surges-131-in-March-to-9.3-Million-U.S.-Visitors

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