Decline of Print Media Ignites Digital Innovation

Cross-media news


Print media is on the decline, but a career in journalism is still a promising prospect for those willing to embrace digital media.

Doing the rounds of cyberspace at present is a story originally published on Buzzfeed of a leaked New York Times internal report that reveals the media organisation is struggling to maintain relevance and success in the digital age. The report blames the organisation’s slowness in adapting to changing technologies for this.

News distribution today encompasses digital innovations such as on-demand video streaming, podcasting, blogging and social media, so it’s no longer just a matter of good newsgathering, storytelling and writing with integrity. Journalists now need skills in video and audio production, digital photography, basic html coding, blogging and social media (including etiquette and strategy), as well as an understanding of devices like geomaps, slideshows and interactive graphics.

As new media platforms appear, new skills will need to be learnt in order for journalists to operate within them. To put it simply and bluntly, it’s a matter of ‘adapt or die’. Australian universities have now expanded their offerings to include units on digital journalism.

For those who have embraced digital media, there are opportunities in local and international native digital news organisations, as well as in niche-market digital news groups.

It’s still too early for the data to confirm the theories, but it appears that sales of digital news subscriptions may be on the rise. Society’s need for news hasn’t diminished. While there will always be a place for print media, albeit a much smaller one, companies that readily adopt innovative business models for digital news production will find themselves better equipped to remain relevant and maintain their readers. It’s up to journalists themselves to ensure they have the skills to keep up.


Aggregator aggregates aggregation

The irony of aggregating content in a blog post about the ethical issues of aggregating content is not lost on me. However, as a journalism student, it is my responsibility to keep abreast of the trends and issues surrounding this practice.

As the different platforms by which we consume news are evolving, and the lines that once kept them distinct from each other are blurring, so too are the rules that govern our journalistic practices. We are operating in uncharted, or at best, murky territory.

It is argued that aggregation is a form of theft or plagiarism. A journalist has done all the hard work researching, compiling, writing and editing content that is then picked up by an aggregator to be presented via their own channel as “new content”. Often links to the original source are hidden, or content is rewritten or summarised to the extent that there is no incentive for readers to click back to the original. The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed have both been accused of this practice. Sometimes original sources are inadequately attributed, if at all.

There are still ways to operate ethically, particularly for those budding journalists wanting to earn a reputation for professional integrity and credibility.

Just Say No To Plagiarism


This Harvard Law report by Kimberley Isbell is a must-read because it details legal implications and “best practices” for news aggregators using content that isn’t their own. If you scroll to the bottom of this post by Nieman Journalism Lab, you’ll find they’ve summarised the report’s “best practice” suggestions succinctly.

Steve Buttry is an Editor at Digital First Media, who, besides making an interesting point that news aggregation isn’t a new practice, has written comprehensive guidelines for aggregators in this blog post.

Essentially, what these guidelines all point to is that you should “link, attribute and add value” (Buttry 2012). What should really be “best practice” for journalists however, is to always write your own, original news stories.

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!”

Pipped at the post

Yvette Gilfillan

Pipped at the post by her best friend since Kindy.

Most people would be over the moon to receive an ATAR of 99.2, but that wasn’t quite the case for Yvette Gilfillan.

The 18-year-old Bachelor of Creative Arts student from Nowra came second to the woman she’d been best friends with since Kindergarten.

“She got an ATAR of 99.45 and Dux of the school. At a school ceremony, the Principal said to me ‘You must feel pipped at the post’, and I thought ‘Yeah, kinda…'”

Despite not being Dux of the school, Yvette was still happy to share valuable advice on how to succeed at the HSC with other students from her school who were set to sit the exams the following year.

Trouble for Villain at Uni Party?

The morning after the recent Superheroes and Villains Party at the University of Wollongong has revealed startling evidence of possible foul play for one attendee.

The partial costumery of Edward Stationeryhands lay discarded on a Uni Bar table, indicating that perhaps this particular villain may have encountered unexpected trouble during the event.

The partial costumery of Edward Stationeryhands lays discarded on a Uni Bar table.

Has tragedy befallen Edward Stationeryhands?

A spokesperson for the event said there had been “no reports of the kidnapping or otherwise of this villain, and that perhaps they were just having difficulty holding their drink.”

Investigations are yet to commence into Edward Stationeryhands’ possible disappearance.

The Duck Pond Head Honcho

The University of Wollongong campus is teeming with a variety of wildlife and one of the most common sights on the grounds are the ducks.

On a walk past the duck pond, my personal space was seriously invaded by this fellow, the Duck Pond Head Honcho, who was very concerned at my proximity to a nesting duck and who took it upon himself to interrogate me thoroughly.

University of Wollongong Duck Pond Head Honcho

University of Wollongong Duck Pond Head Honcho

I had heard rumours that the UoW ducks could be fairly feisty, so after a terse warning “quack” that my presence would not be tolerated, I didn’t hesitate to hightail it out of there.

Those visiting the University of Wollongong campus can expect to see newly-hatched ducklings sometime in the next few weeks.

Georgia Holloway’s road less travelled

Georgia Holloway is a first-year Journalism student at the University of Wollongong.

Here she tells us a bit about what attracted her to studying Journalism and where she hopes it might take her.

While still just 19 years of age, she has been confronted with some unusual challenges throughout her life, one in particular that often surprises people to learn of. Watch the video below to find out more:


Vox Pop: How careful are you about posting personal information online?

From social media to banking and online shopping, so many of our daily activities now happen in the digital space, with passwords and data encryption often the means to keeping our private, personal details secure.

The recent Heartbleed bug scare was a terrifying reminder that much of the information we entrust to this space is vulnerable to theft by hackers.

With this in mind, I took to the University of Wollongong campus to ask students how careful they are about posting personal information online.