Dark days for advertising and journalism jobs as the media recession deepens

The headlines this week were triumphant – employment site Seek reported Australian jobs were up 13.2% in the best results for the economy this decade. But things were not so rosy in the advertising, arts and media sector.

With a 14% fall in job ads, the statistics showed how deeply the current downturn in advertising spend is affecting all aspects of the media industry.

Seek job ad changes 2016 to 2017

That the sector is suffering a decline isn’t surprising seeing advertising revenues continue to collapse in the Australian media, with SMI reporting digital and outdoor dragging spending away from newspapers and magazines in a largely stagnant market.

This followed the 2016 SMI figures, which were described as the worst to date, a magazines and metro newspapers saw their advertising revenues fall by over ten percent.

Yesterday’s market update by Fairfax only underscored the continuing revenue decline, with the company estimating group profits falling four percent led by both metro and community newspapers falling by over ten percent.

Given the decline in the industry’s revenues, it’s not surprising the job vacancies are falling. A dive into Seek’s statistics is even more illuminating on what is happening both within media and advertising.

Seek 2014-17 Advertising, Arts and Media category. Supplied by Seek [click to enlarge]

Spokesperson for Seek Daniel Ellis was sanguine about the sector’s troubles when approached by Mumbrella.

“In August 2017, job ads on SEEK for the advertising, arts and media industry dipped 14 percent when compared to the same period last year,” he stated.

“This negative growth in August 2017 for the sector follows consecutive positive year on year (y/y) growth over the past three years.

“In August 2014, advertising on SEEK for the advertising, arts and media industry grew 4.3 percent y/y. Then in August 2015 and August 2016, job ads were up 10.7 percent y/y and 9 percent y/y respectively,” explained Ellis.

“Since 2013, the fields across the advertising, arts and media industry offering the most job opportunities on SEEK are agency account management, journalism and writing, and programming and production.

“Despite offering the most jobs on SEEK each August since 2013, the following top advertising fields have experienced a y/y decline in advertising on SEEK this August –  agency account management [down 20.5 per cent y/y] and journalism and writing [down 6.7 per cent y/y],” continued Ellis.

Unfortunately, Seek will not release raw numbers due to commercial confidentiality. However, in their submission to the Future of Public Interest Journalism inquiry, the Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance has estimated over 3,000 Australian journalism positions have been lost over the past six years.

Despite this, some still see hope in the industry with Jenna Price, Fairfax columnist and UTS journalism academic, telling Mumbrella: “The audience will always appreciate good stories.”

“We make sure students have skills across all media,” she continued. “They can do everything right up to starting a publication from scratch. We prepare them for the job market.”

The declining media market, coupled with the mining and construction sector’s strength, may mean journalism students would be well advised to learn how to operate a backhoe as much as WordPress site if they want to be part of Australia’s miracle economy.


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