Journalism Students Prepare to Face Industry Challenges

Issues that journalism students may be confronted with in their future careers traverses everything from media law, sexism and bias to the rise of digital journalism and an industry struggling to adapt to change.

Copyright issues with news aggregation is a topic of great contention, particularly as media law evolves with the rise of digital journalism. Discussion in the public sphere following with the sacking of New York Times editor Jill Abramson suggests that gender inequality in the media industry is still a problem. The quality and integrity of news published by media organisations with perceived bias and ideological agendas is in question. Then there’s the matter of a career in print journalism looking bleak as revenue and subsequently the number of jobs declines.

Thomas Hudson, 18, hopes to become a sports journalist and says, “I want to always be honest in my work. I’m strongly against biased and agenda-driven reporting. Trying to present all the perspectives of a story is the aim,”

“I don’t like injustice so I would not miss the opportunity to expose corruption or malpractice in sport if the opportunity arose,”

“My biggest concern is primarily the amount of competition for a sports journalism role. There are so many young journalists like myself hoping to one day find themselves in one the few coveted positions.”

Maneesha Todd, 18, would like to write for women’s or teenage girl’s magazines. She says, “I think that some people don’t take women seriously; they’re seen as preferring softer issues. You might have an editor who gives you women’s ‘niche areas’ instead of say, if you were passionate about politics, they might dismiss that because they don’t think you’re up for it.”

“I’m a feminist and I’m really passionate about changing things as well, so I’m  interested in creating or working for a magazine that creates a positive space for women. Positive messages. I feel like magazine culture is particularly harmful to the ideas about women and I think that getting some different perspectives in that space would be really helpful,”

“I still think that there’s a market for magazines. I still think that people like the whole idea of a tangible thing. I don’t think it’s entirely lost, but I think that the job is much more competitive and it’s getting harder because people are less likely to spend $10 on something they could get online much cheaper.”

Maneesha Todd hopes shake up magazine culture and bring positive feminist messaging to young women.

Maneesha Todd hopes to shake up magazine culture and bring positive, feminist messaging to young women.

Amy Starling, 28, would like a career in print and online journalism, foreign correspondence and investigative journalism. “I’d like to believe I’d do whatever was in the people’s interest, even if it was considered detrimental to big business for example. I guess a brave example of this would be The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald when he was approached by Edward Snowden. I’d like to think I could be brave like that if ever in that kind of situation!”

“My agenda is to conscientiously provide unbiased reporting – which is at the heart of true journalism. Rather than sneaking in my own bias every which way, I’d like to be the voice of people who perhaps don’t have much of one, though I think it would be an eternal struggle to hold onto your integrity and not sell out when the money is often with the big corporations.”

Breanna O’Neill, 18, would love to land a role with Disney despite criticisms the company faces: “It’s definitely a tough industry, and it is important to uphold the reputation they have worked to build for so long.  The demands of the public would be a major concern, due to the constant criticisms they face,”

“People are quick to criticise the company for perpetuating negative stereotypes of gender and race, however this really follows the ‘media effects’ model upheld in society, which I have blogged about. We cannot judge the company for a piece created almost 80 years ago that is correct in its contextual portrayal of the character. Critics are over-analysing these films to the point of stupidity.”

Despite being faced with these big issues, the number of young people enrolling in Journalism is on the rise and students are still prepared to continue with their studies in the hopes of attaining a rewarding career in the industry.

Meet Cosplayer Claudia

Dressed as Cardcaptor Sakura in a Lolita-style red dress, bonnet and pure white knee-high socks, ordinarily-shy Claudia Blanche is perfectly at home wandering around Wollongong Town Hall among Marvel Comic heros, Star Wars characters and other pop culture creatures brought to life for cosplay event, Comic Gong 2014.

Claudia, AKA cosplayer Cardcaptor Sakura, at this year's Comic Gong

Claudia cosplaying as Cardcaptor Sakura at this year’s Comic Gong

When not studying a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Japanese) and a Bachelor of Communication & Media Studies at Wollongong University, 18 year old Claudia enjoys donning anime character costumes and participating in cosplay events.

“I always felt like an outsider at school because I was interested in anime and manga. I thought cosplay might be a really great way to embrace my love of these things and also meet new people with similar interests. It definitely hasn’t disappointed!”

“My family isn’t interested in anime and manga, and my dad avoids situations where he has to dress up like the plague, but all my family are incredibly supportive of my hobby, whether it be assisting me in creating my costumes, sourcing materials or taking me to conventions,”

“My first cosplay was of Celty Sturluson from the anime series Durarara!!. She’s kind of like a female version of the headless horseman – an Irish mythical creature called a ‘Dullahan’ to be exact. I identified with her when I watched the anime series because we have very similar personalities. She’s an urban legend in Ikebukuro (the place she lives) and people treat her like a monster, when actually, she displays a lot more humanity and goodness than any of the people in the show. I really empathised with her because like me, she didn’t fit in,”

“Since I’ve come to uni, I’ve been totally overwhelmed that people actually think my interests are cool! I don’t feel like an outsider any more.”

Claudia’s mum Leanne Blanche has had any fears about her cosplaying allayed since accompanying her daughter to conventions: “I suppose I do worry sometimes, will people think she’s unusual? But I think once you go to conventions in Sydney and see just how many people do it, there’s going to be unusual people in whatever field you look at. It does attract some unusual people, but she has met such nice people. The whole vibe at conventions is really friendly and supportive. I feel really comfortable there,”

“For her it’s like being a pop star for a day. Everyone knows the characters that she cosplays as, they all want photos with her, so it’s a fantastic experience for her,”

“Last time we were at the Dendy, they had anime movies and it was a dress-up competition as well. She was in her Sakura outfit, and as we were leaving, we went past a wedding. The groom came over and said to Claudia “My wife loved Sakura as a little girl! Will you come and be in our wedding photos?” So she was in all these really beautiful wedding photos with the bride.”

Claudia has big dreams for her cosplaying future: “I plan to enter the World Cosplay Summit Competition in the future. Cosplayers from all over Australia and other countries around the world are judged on their costumes and acting abilities. The country’s best cosplayer then gets to represent their country in Japan at the World Cosplay Summit. I’m aiming to be that person!”