The Changing Journalism Landscape: An Interview With Student Journalist of the Year Finalist, Emily Jane Smith
Change isn’t coming, it’s here
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: the career landscape is changing. And this change is becoming increasingly apparent in the Communications, namely Journalism, sector. According to the Department of Employment (2015), the number of people employed as journalists or writers is set to grow to approximately 30,300 by 2020. Yet the growth of employment for such professionals is not growing at the same rate, leaving many qualified journalists without traditional employment in their field.
Yet this doesn’t mean there is no longer a demand for quality writers. As technology progresses, online spaces grow, and organisations are increasingly investing more in content marketing, journalists are moving to less traditional areas of employment where their skills can still be utilised, (such as Marketing, Business, or NGOs) rather than traditional print media. This does often mean that many are required to now be skilled in areas such as social media, online publishing, and multimedia, putting some added pressure on graduates of Journalism degrees, and prompting a renewed push for universities and other tertiary organisations to re-evaluate their curriculum.
Quality journalism wins out
Despite all of these recent changes, Australia still has a passion for quality journalism, and the Walkley Foundation for Journalism reflects this. Sitting ‘at the very heart of the Australian media’, the Foundation aims to promote ‘excellence in journalism in all its forms including visual arts, literature, film, video, television, photography, documentary and radio’.
Each year, the Foundation shortlists a number of students for their Student Journalist of the Year Award. This award is open to undergrad and postgrad students, and entrants are required to submit a piece of work that they have previously submitted for assessment. Finalists (and the winner) are chosen based on the principles of ‘journalistic excellence, newsworthiness, research, writing, production, incisiveness, impact, ethics, originality, innovation, and creative flair’.
Student Journalist of the Year finalist, Emily Jane Smith
This year, UTS’ own Emily Jane Smith has been named as a finalist for this Award. Having produced work for The Sydney Morning Herald (with pieces including: ‘Better Prisons?’, ‘Rheumatic Heart Disease in Australia’, and ‘Good news for Azalyiah Sole as National Disability Insurance Scheme rolls out in NSW’), Smith is also an Executive Producer for FBi Radio’s flagship news and politics program, Backchat, a Video Producer for Fairfax Media, and a Freelance Radio Producer for ABC local radio. She has also worked with a number of other respected media organisations, from The Huffington Post to Peru This Week.
While studying her combined Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) and Bachelor of Arts in International Studies (Argentina), Smith developed her passion for travelling and gained a wealth of international experience, particularly through her year spent in Argentina as part of her studies.
Our Social Media Intern, Jocelyn Airth, sat down with Smith to have a quick chat with her about her being named a finalist for the Award, her plans for the future, and what advice she has for current Journalism students.
JA: To start with – congratulations on being named a finalist for the Student Journalist of the Year Award! What made you decide to apply?
EJS: I applied on a whim. I had written a few stories while studying at UTS, so I fit the criteria. I didn’t really expect anything to come of it.
JA: How did you feel when you heard the news?
EJS: I was about to film something for FBi when I got the phone call. It totally caught me off guard!
JA: So you just graduated from UTS in 2016 – what’s next for you?
EJS: [Currently] I’m in a classic millennial situation, working three different jobs. I’m not too sure what I’ll specialise in at this stage, as the industry is constantly evolving.
JA: And what made you decide to study Journalism in the first place?
EJS: I believe that journalism is essential for a functioning democracy and I want to contribute positively to the creation of quality journalism across Australia and the world.
[And] it sounds altruistic, but on a personal level, I love discovering people’s stories and sharing different perspectives.
JA: You’ve managed to gain a lot of experience over the last few years, particularly while you were studying. How did you come across some of these opportunities?
EJS: Well I found that lecturers were happy to share opportunities with students. There’s also nothing stopping you from cold calling or emailing people about opportunities. I’d suggest trying to contact professionals directly and chatting to them about opportunities to shadow or gain experience.
JA: Do you think that interning or volunteering helped you while you were studying?
EJS: I found volunteering in community radio particularly valuable while studying because I found that it gives you practical skills in content production. You meet likeminded people, produce content that you’re proud of, and end up creating a lot of quality content that can be added to your portfolio.
You definitely become way more employable if you have well-developed skills across all mediums.
JA: Do you have any final takeaways for students who are currently interning, or are looking to gain experience?
EJS: Make sure your internships are mutually beneficial, that you’re applying yourself and building a portfolio.
Don’t spend too much time interning at places that make you run random or irrelevant errands. Get your hands on a DSLR and film things, make a podcast, teach yourself how to use Adobe Premier.
(Since their chat, Smith has taken up a position as a Feature Reporter for the ABC in Broome, and is planning on relocating shortly. To follow what she’s up to, be sure to check out her website or find her on LinkedIn. We’re looking forward to seeing what she produces next!)
Interviewer: Jocelyn Airth is the Social Media Intern at UTS:Careers. She is passionate about all things digital, and wants to pursue a career in sports media.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels.
(This interview has been edited for clarity and consistency).
By Mia Casey