Research project expands survey to take in journalists made redundant after 2012

Lawrie Zion


A research project examining the impact of the major job cuts that have occurred in Australian journalism, since 2012, is preparing for next stage of its survey after receiving a $270,000 ARC research grant.

La Trobe University journalism lecturer Lawrie Zion, who is the project co-ordinator, says that following a pilot study done last year the New Beats project will now dramatically expand the size of its survey.

“What we are finding is that what looked like an avalanche (of redundancies) in 2012 hasn’t exactly come to a halt,” said Zion. “There are still a lot of redundancies going out across the media.

“In the pilot we looked exclusively at people who had taken a package during 2012, but a lot of the feedback we got when we were doing it was people saying ‘I took a package in 2013’ etc.”

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the union which represents journalists, believes 2012 saw the departure of 1,000-1,200 people from the profession, while a further 500 left mainstream publishers in 2013.

Zion and the rest of the New Beats team, who include Finkelstein report coauthor Matthew Ricketson along with fellow academics Penny O’Donnell, Tim Marjoribanks and Andrew Dodd, have now put a call out for journalists who left major publishers since 2012 to take part in a three year study.

“We are asking participant to self select and to volunteer,” he said.  “Since we got the announcement that we got the research funding grant over three years, we decided to do three annual surveys starting, with one that will commence early next month.”

Based on the findings of the pilot study Zion argues the next stage will be to draw out where the journalists who departed mainstream media ended up and how they adapted and coped with the change.

This is something the project plans to do in both an academic paper and also a series of radio documentaries which will be created with the National Library of Australia and a media partner.

“What we are planning to do over the three years is make a series of radio programs looking at the careers of journalists and the issues they faced through the redundancy period as well.

“We will be looking at their entire careers in association with the National Library of Australia.”

Zion argues the impact of the journalism redundancies has been wide felt on the media industry and also related industries.

“Over time we will explore how careers become reconfigured and not just journalists who leave the profession but also those who have taken package and have instead started to rebuild journalism careers in other areas or for different companies,” he said.

“On average (many people in the pilot) spent a quarter of a century working in journalism, and is it possible that other professions, or areas of work will benefit from what they bring to them.

“And more importantly what will the departure of all that experience mean for journalism itself? Will a lot of these people find ways back into journalism after such as disruptive moment.”

Journalists interested in signing up for the survey can do so here. 

Nic Christensen 


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