Recently, the Australian media announced that employment prospects for journalists are now few and far between. Several Australian universities have even cut their journalism course schedules citing employment availability is not high enough to justify student enrolments, and the last fortnight has seen the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Melbourne axe around 80 jobs after funding cuts by the Federal Government forced a staffing restructure. Daunting, to say the very least, to a first year Bachelor of Communications, journalism major. The prospect of chasing a dream career suddenly dashed by the thought of starvation whilst searching for the next weeks pay.
The required amount of cynicism to become a journalist however, has me wondering if perhaps it’s not jobs for journalists that are short, but jobs for ‘real’ journalists. Cozying up on the lounge to enjoy my first coffee of the day, I switch on the television to find a copious number of channels showing their own watered down variety of morning, mid-morning, lunch, afternoon, evening and late night “news” shows. The content is virtually identical between networks and the stories almost word-for-word. Neatly dressed presenters adorn warm, comfortable looking sets, chatting about the latest thing in wrinkle treatment or the cute kitty video now a worldwide sensation. Occasionally a natural disaster has them sending out their weather reporter, often not a meteorologist but a washed up ‘soapie star’, to stand on a beach front while hundred mile winds turn their umbrellas inside out. It is disturbing. These people are not real journalists. At most, they spoon feed the public details of a censored press release; nothing more. In a way, it’s hard to blame them. Maybe they are just offering what the public wants, with so many now too lazy to ask any real questions about the happenings of the world themselves.
My heart sinks as I pine for the real journalists who inspired me to take this journey. The ones out getting their hands dirty and not looking one bit afraid to do so. The investigative journos from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, heading straight into the war torn countries, suicidal religious cults, or the famine suffering tribes of African nations. They seem lost to decades gone by. My phone beeps a Twitter notification when suddenly an epiphany rocks me and I realise exactly where this dying breed of hard hitting reporters have gone. They have been shoved into the realms of social media, alternative news providers and online agencies. The moulded popular TV personalities have ousted the truth seekers, or more to the point the Murdoch, Packer and Fairfax types of the world have, and they have been replaced with what I have decided to call ‘journotainers’ – Less journo, more entertainer.
But I know they are still out there and I envision the day I am right there along side them. I take comfort knowing they are still seeking the truth. The truth for nations worldwide being oppressed; the truth behind our governments; the truth for climate change and our environment; the truth for the whistle blowers, and truth in general for all those who seek it.
So who cares if the jobs for journalists are short. Because in reality they really aren’t. We shouldn’t be concerned with not getting that perfect TV gig, or writing for that bias, leftist/rightist tabloid paper. We really just need to reassess who we should be learning the truth from, or go out and find it ourselves.