Two Degrees for Separation

UOW Journalism Students look to double degrees as jobs in the profession dry up

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Image depicting the wide variety of double degrees available to UOW Journalism students

The field of journalism is changing. As big news outlets gradually move from print to the online sphere, hundreds of jobs in the field of journalism are being made redundant. With this issue at the forefront of current student’s minds, it is no surprise that many Journalism students at UOW are opting to study double degrees in an effort to better their prospects of employment in the future.

Senior UOW Journalism lecturer Marcus O’Donnell spoke of the advantage a double degree in journalism can be for students looking to succeed in the field of journalism. He stated that, “it’s a good strategy as journalism is two distinct things; not only does it involve skills and practices like writing and photography, journalism always focuses on one specific area of knowledge. For example, if someone wants to become a business journalist then a double degree in commerce and journalism would be a valuable head start”. O’Donnell further commented “employers are always looking for people with broad areas of experience and knowledge that is not just specific to journalism. People who have gone into depth in other areas of study can be invaluable for research and other areas in the field of journalism”.

This idea of thinking has been taken on board by many UOW journalism students who have opted to undertake double degrees in an effort to secure a job after University. Kelly Stratton, who is currently in the second year of her combined Law/Journalism degree stated that, “I think the secondary law degree will give me an invaluable set of skills that will provide a ‘leg up’ on the competition in either profession.” This ‘competitive edge’ has been identified by a number of Journalism students studying double degrees, including Blair Arnold, who is currently in his first year of a Journalism/Media and Communications degree. Arnold stated, “The double degree will definitely allow me to be more competitive within the field when it comes to applying for jobs in the future”.

Additionally, Stratton has found that her secondary degree has enhanced her academic ability, stating, “After a year of law, I can see that the quality of my writing has improved immensely… I also know how to look at something and interpret and analyse it in an effective way before writing, which is an essential skill as a journalist”.

Whilst a lack of jobs has led many students to opt for a double degree, a number have found that this issue has deterred them from wanting to work in the field of journalism. First year Communications and Media Studies/Creative Arts student Caitlin James remarked, “I am realising that after my first semester, the lack of jobs in journalism is quite worrying.. I have definitely dedicated more time to my secondary degree as a result”.

Contrary to this, many journalism students have found that the lack of jobs has, if anything made them more motivated to succeed in their degree and obtain a job in the future. Media Studies/Bachelor of Arts student Amy Scurr stated that “(doing a double degree) has helped me cement the idea that I want to be a journalist… Journalism was always my first choice for a degree, so no matter how few jobs there are out there, I’m determined to find one of them”.

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See ya later, Aggregator!

Are News Aggregators the way of the future? Or are they contributing to the decline of the Journalism Industry?

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Over the past decade, the internet has become an essential news source for most Australians. This has led to a rise in ‘news aggregators’. So what is aggregation? Well, according to Steve Buttry, “Aggregation is the technique of using content from other sources to provide content for your audience. They occupy overlapping spaces”.

Whilst many people are of the opinion that news aggregator services are a recent phenomenon, Steve Buttry noted that they are not a new concept. In a recent article he explained that  “aggregation has a long, proud and ethical history in journalism… The Associated Press is largely and aggregation service, except that its member pay huge fees for the privilege of being aggregated”. Why then, is there a school of thought that suggests news aggregators are the reason for the decline of traditional journalism?

According to this theory, news aggregators are free-riding, reselling and profiting from the factual information gathered by traditional media organisations at great cost. In 2009, Rupert Murdoch went as far as say that news aggregators “wholesale misappropriation of our stories is not fair use. To be impolite, it’s theft”.

There has been lots of debate as to whether news aggregators are in fact breaking any laws. And for all the debate that the battle of ‘Traditional Newspapers’ versus ‘The Online Sphere’ has caused, there has been no case in that has definitively addressed the question of whether news aggregator’s activities are legal.

Whilst news aggregator’s may have a direct link to the decline of traditional journalism, they do manage to provide a valuable service, that is becoming more and more prominent and relevant in today’s society.. This is, of course, as journalism progresses on it’s long and bumpy journey from print to the net.

 

N.B: I completely understand the irony of me writing an aggregated post about the issues of aggregated posts!

The Great Dividing Range

Are Universities cashing in on the decline of jobs in print Journalism?

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It’s the biggest issue on every Journalism student’s mind.. Is there such thing as a job after university? In recent years, there has been a cut to the amount of traditional cadetship programs in Journalism. In 2011, the Herald Sun offered 6 cadetships; Fairfax cut traineeships all together in 2008. Currently in Australia, we are in a situation “where young people are still interested in communication for a living but the industry seems incapable of supporting this interest with suitable employment”.

Not only is there not enough jobs for current and graduated journalism students, there is an alarming statistic that “the number of students enrolled in journalism courses has increased rapidly” since 2001. This growth in the number of students studying was confirmed by The Australian Newspaper in 2013. Nic Christensen highlighted the worrying trend in an article, stating, “in 2001, 3013 students were enrolled in journalism courses, according to the Department of Innovation. A decade later, there were 3988 undergraduate and 762 postgraduate journalism students — a rise of 55 per cent and 74 per cent respectively.”    

This rise has led to many calls that universities are, in fact, taking advantage of the lack of jobs in journalism, by over-enrolling in order to make maximum profit. This notion was confirmed by the head of the UTS Graduate School of Journalism, Alan Knight, when he stated, “if you are an unscrupulous university you have very large classes and . . . the bigger the class, the more money you make out of it.” 

Whilst this school of thought has gained considerable credibility over the last few years, a number of other experts, including Dr Katy Davies of Edith Cowan University believe that the number of jobs in the industry is irrelevant to the value of teaching journalism. 

Irrespective of whether universities are cashing in on journalism students or not, the statistics highlighted above provide a worrying tale for journalism students across Australia.

The Youth are Alive (With the Sound of Music)

“It started off as a job, but now it’s become an integral part of my life”

ImageIt’s 3.30pm and the sun is shining over the local café. This is where I have decided to chat with Blakehurt local and UOW student Ben Trainor. To the normal eye, he appears to be a regular student. Making the commute from Sydney to Wollongong three times a week. It is only when we start chatting for a couple of minutes that he begins to reveal his passion for music.

“Growing up (music) was always a massive part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are sitting with dad listening to his vast record collection of all the classics: The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd!”.. Whilst now his music tastes has changed, he has a great respect for these early memories, “they are timeless classics, music that will live on well after we are all gone.”

It is these classics that first led Trainor to pick up the guitar in 2005, at the young age of 13. He recalls, “dad would always come home from work and race to his room and jam out on the guitar for hours. In 2005, when I told him I wanted to learn (the guitar), he was so supportive and excited, we rushed out and bought a guitar package together.”

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These lessons continued for a few years, until 2011, when Trainor made the decision to drop the lessons and start teaching local students. With a smile on his face, he recalls the exact moment that he knew he wanted to stop getting lessons and start teaching, “I remember being halfway through a lesson and hearing some commotion at the front of the store.. My teacher got up to see what was happening.. Turns out a kid had come in asking for lessons.. Problem was he had no money. My teacher turned to the boss and said he would take him on as a student for free… This moment opened my eyes to the power that music can have on people’s lives.. This kid who had come from a rough up bringing where his parents barely had money to pay for the essentials in life would come in every week to learn guitar with a massive smile on his face… it really was inspiring to see the joy music brings.

Whilst he hasn’t yet encountered a similar scenario, Trainor would love the opportunity to work in a disadvantaged community teaching students music, “it’s definitely something I’ve considered… I’ve read of different programs that head to rural Australia, providing free music for the most disadvantaged people in these remote communities…That would definitely be something I would consider”.

For now though, Trainor continues to teach children guitar and piano, and lets the parents dictate how much they pay. “I started out charging a standardised fee but after some students dropped out due to financial reasons, I sort of let parents dictate how much they want to pay me for the lesson”. When I ask him whether its based on the results he laughs, thinks for a few moments before he cautiously answers, “I suppose everything in life is.”