Journalism is not dead was the reassuring message from panellists Melissa Sweet, Anthony DeCeglie and Marcia Ball at the Journalism is Dead: Long Live Journalism event hosted by Women in Media on Wednesday March 20.
Sunday Times Chief of Staff Anthony DeCeglie said the funding model of journalism was suffering but journalism was far from dead.
“Journalism has never been more alive and people have never been more interested in it,” he said.
Newspapers were still the best place to start a career in journalism because they provided an excellent grounding in the craft of journalism.
“Newspapers still have a place,” he said. “News Limited CEO Kim Williams said last year that News Ltd sell more than 11 million newspapers every week and distribute five million community papers.”
“We are right at the beginning of this,” he said. “There are big opportunities for beginning journalists moving into journalism now.”
DeCeglie said the mix of online and printed news offered by newspapers were a boon for the public.
“Journalism has never been better and it’s never had the reach it has now,” he said.
There’s been a move away from the competition to be the first to break news stories online and instead the competition was to provide the most in-depth analysis.
DeCeglie said that as long as the credibility and accuracy of journalism was upheld, the public would continue to go to traditional news sites as sources of trustworthy news.
“If you’ve lost your credibility, you’ve lost your audience,” he said.
Style Voyeur fashion blogger Marcia Ball said the transition to online media was an opportunity for journalists and there was plenty of room for innovative journalists to capitalise on the opportunities arising from the disruption.
The panellists were optimistic that journalists would make money in the new online environment but said time and passion was important.
Melissa Sweet, a health and medicine online journalist said social media could generate more money. But she said you have to be willing to put time into it. “I didn’t go into journalism to make money, it’s more a labour of love.”
Ball was optimistic that she could make money out of her fashion blog, but said it came down to marketing decisions, commitment and entrepreneurial thinking.
“Having a blog is more than a full time job,” she said. “I’m two years sleep deprived.”
Ball admitted it wasn’t easy for her to maintain her blog full-time and work full-time in paid employment to make a living.
She recently quit all her other jobs to focus solely on Style Voyeur, gambling on the idea that if she puts the effort in the money will soon come.
Sunday Times chief of staff Anthony DeCegile said America was an example of how it could work. “We’re still ten years behind them.”
He said journalism was a passion and “you have to love it”.
Health and medicine online journalist Melissa Sweet said the engagement between audience and journalist through social media made journalists more accountable and far better at their craft.
“Social media can broaden contacts and create a more engaged and interactive medium for the journalist and their audience,” she said.
Social media helped the public find quality journalism and offered an alternative to celebrity driven news, she said.
As a writer for online medical news site, Croaky, Sweet said she had far more freedom in what she could write now compared to when she worked for newspapers.
“It’s great to be able to focus on issues that get little coverage by the mainstream media,” she said.
Croaky has 5500 followers on Twitter, but Sweet said it was about quality not quantity with some of the leading health publications around the world following the blog.
A capacity crowd of more than 100 guests attended the twenty-fifth Women in Media event hosted by Curtin University. Women in Media committee member and former ABC journalist Miriam Borthwick facilitated the panel discussion.
Women in Media is a non-for-profit organisation established in July 2005 for journalists, public relations personnel and media specialists in Western Australia to network with others in the industry.
Now in its eighth year, the not-for-profit organisation has more than 900 members and enjoys support from sponsors Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Red Tiki, Lamonts and Petra Vanessie Designs.