Professional Issues Throughout the Media and Journalism Industries and the Characteristics Required to Challenge Them

By Camryn Giles

Throughout the current semester, the QUT subject KJB102: Introduction to Journalism, Media & Communication has gone into extensive detail about the Journalism and Media industries, bringing to light some of the main unresolved issues currently occurring within these industries. Beckett (2008, pp.85) argues that journalism as a whole is a public service, and its historic importance continues to grow and adjusts to the increasingly technological, globalised and only world. In an age described as one of “information overload” due to frequent online interaction quickly becoming the social norm, Journalism continues to expand and transverse itself to appeal to and satisfy the needs of the modern day audience (Keen, 2007, pp. 34). Though both media and journalism have both progressed significantly throughout the 21st from their traditional forms, a number of professional issues of great importance have been brought to light and are yet to be sufficiently resolved. This essay will analyse the main professional issue of the misogyny occurring within these industries, as well as looking at two other issues including ownership throughout the digital age as well as personal issue that can influence the aspiring journalist. In addition, this essay will endeavour to outline the characteristics required amongst present and future media professionals in order to combat and overcome these issues and the challenges they present. Ultimately, through providing up and coming journalists and media professionals with theses characteristics, this will allow the industry to continue to grow and progress for the better.

Despite feminism growing at a fast pace and making significant changes to society through challenging social norms and the traditional ‘role’ of the female gender, misogyny continues to run rife throughout the journalism and media industries, presenting unacceptable ethical issues for media professionals. Research lead by Women In Journalism team Jane Martinson and Fiona Bardon (2012) found that throughout the UK, there was a significant gap in the amount of front page by lines which were male in comparison to those which were female, with 78% of all front page bylines being male, but only 22% being female. Additionally, an analysis of the gender of the journalists’s name who appeared first on lead stories revealed an evident distinction in the percentages between men and women, with 81% of male names being put before female names, which only accounted for 19% (Bardon, 2012). This evidence suggests the credibility and reliability of female journalists is still frequently undermined by today’s media professionals. However, research suggests this steep difference could potentially attributed to the fact that on average, published male journalists outnumber that of female journalists.

An article by the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade, revealed that male on the nationals journalists outnumber female journalists by a staggering 78% (Greenslade, 2011). Furthermore, it was found that men currently dominate sectors of journalism including business and political, and sports journalism, wiht only 3% of sports journalists being female. Many professionals often argue that this is simply due to the fact that there are certain areas that men traditionally dominate and that women traditionally dominate. However, why is it then that British male journalists are currently dominating not only their traditional areas of interest throughout journalism, but also those which would traditionally be expected to be dominated by women? Statistics revealed that males contend with female lifestyle reporters by 495 and out number female arts reporters by 70% (Greenslade, 2011). With males dominating even those areas traditional seen as more feminine, it is more then evident that the journalism and media industry severely lack the confidence in female journalists’ ability to even write about topics traditionally seen as ‘theirs’, let alone those which traditionally are more masculine.

To further the issue, research released by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) in their 2011 Global Report on The Status of Women in the News Media shows that female journalists are being employed at a significantly lower rate than that of male journalists, with only 33.3% of full-time journalists in the workforce over 522 companies surveyed being women (2011). Additionally, males occupy 73% of the top management jobs and specifically in Australia, males occupy over 90% of these authoritarian roles. The fact that men outweighs women within the industry so heavily can’t be attributed to lack of female interest in journalism, and is rather curious as Greenslade comments that the number of females unmaking tertiary courses in journalism is constantly outnumbering that of males undertaking these courses (Greenslade, 2011). Evidently, this data displays the trials of inequality women attempting to successfully flourish within journalism currently face , and suggests that strict glass ceilings are yet to be broken.

Not only is the employment rate pitted against women in journalism, but more often than not, female journalism are constantly criticised for their ‘aggressive approaches’, which would hardly be considered aggressive, but reasonable if the journalist in question was in fact a male. This was demonstrates in Malcolm Turnbull’s criticism of two female ABC veteran journalists, Emma Alberci and Leigh Sales, stating that the pair were “overly aggressive” in their interviewing approach and that they should take a “more forensic approach”. Despite this, the pair responded tactfully to Turnbull’s remarks, Sales stating that pushing people to answer questions they are reluctant to answer is her job. In response, Alberci stated “When I do a tough interview I will be called an ‘aggressive bitch’ but when (her Lateline co-host) Tony Jones does a similar interview he is just tough… That’s something we grapple with as female interviewers because people don’t want us to be tough” (Carty, 2015). Alberci also noted that it is far easier for interviewees to attack women in public than to attack men. However sexism throughout journalism extends even further, with Jane Singleton a former host of the ABC’s 7.30 Report, stating that she “faced enormous criticism, often vicious” and more often then not about superficial and personal matters in addition to her interviewing approach including her clothes, appearance, sexuality and her family (Singleton, 2015). “Make no mistake, the criticism does gain traction, it does damage careers and it can hurt. It matters” Singleton stated to the Sydney Morning Herald. These examples alone reveal that sexism is used against female journalists and broadcasters with the objective of disempowering them and discrediting their work, and that many are threatened by female journalists challenging the patriarchal view that women are meant to be gentle and submissive (Singleton, 2015).

Despite the challenges of inequality that are pitted towards female journalists right front he get go, women in media refuse to be silenced. However, the constant sexism has resulted in an extreme imbalance between male and female voices and opinions throughout the media. Rowan Davis who conducted the research for Greenland’s article stating “With such gaping under-representation in hard news, business and politics, we have to question whether the absence of women is effecting the content and slant of our news” (Greenslade, 2011). With male journalists saturating the journalism industry by almost two thirds (IWMF, 2011), the majority of the media audiences are exposed to daily consisting mostly of one gender’s work results in the risk that the information we are receiving exposing audiences to very limited recounts of events, opinions and voices rather than a wide range. Overall, suggesting that although it might be known as the ‘information age’ , the information we are receiving is still quite skewed and lacks the diversity expected of it.

Misogyny of any amount within the journalism and media industries is completely unacceptable, and as a result, how this issue will be resolved remains unclear. With feminism broadening its reach, issues such as the wage gap, imbalance of employment and lack of representation are increasingly being brought to light and gaining momentum to being resolved. Despite this, as a result of internalised misogyny being taught to children of both genders from birth, issues such as sexualisation of females amongst all industries, and the negative perception of them and their abilities have become more difficult to resolve. Misogyny impacts women all over the world in all different types of industries, especially those that are male dominated. Through educating children about the unacceptability of misogyny and inequality at a young age, educating those around us, and allowing femalyvoices on the matter to be heard, the issue will not change quickly, but momentum to resolve it is perpetuated. Female journalists must continue to be resilient to the criticism and abuse they may face throughout their careers, and must be the ones to open the doors for future female journalists in order to gain as much balance between the genders within the industry as possible.

With the advance of technology transforming the way audiences receive and trust information, Authorship and credibility are becoming increasingly imperative professional issues throughout journalism and media. Keen (2007) implies that online technology has expanded both the public sphere and fourth estate in the way that the internet provides a platform for the public to voice themselves, removing previous limitations. Although this provides an excellent platform for emerging journalists, the saturation of information has diluted the credibility of information found online, Keen stating “…In this era of exploding media technologies there is no truth except the truth you create for yourself”(Keen, 2007, pp.34). Due to this, it is imperative for journalists to ensure the reliability and credibility of their sources, especially in an age whether the credibility of the information shared online is severely lacking. Harvard Medical School defines authorship as “an explicit way of assigning responsibility and giving credit for intellectual work” and notes that it is important to the authors’ reputation and strength of the author’s work (Harvard Medical School, 2016). Through taking authorship of their work, journalists will demonstrate responsibility for the information they share and ensure that though some may not agree with their opinions, their work is still seen as reputable.

With the advance in technology providing a platform for many up and coming journalists, ensuring one is conscious of the direction they wish their career to take is imperative to achieving success throughout the fiercely competitively journalism and media industries (GRB, 2015). Tony Swanston comments in his book ‘The Seven C’s of Leadership Success’ that in most industries, failure is due to a personal issue of lack of setting goals for future growth. Swainston states “…to begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination” (Swainston, 2012, pp.60). He continues on suggest that success cannot be reached without understanding ‘where’ you currently are, how far you have you have come and ‘where’ exactly you want to be within a certain time frame. This is achieved by being realistic about your abilities and setting personal goals. For success throughout the journalism and media industries, goal setting and being appropriately critical of one’s progress is imperative to successfully breaking into a competitive industry, especially for female journalists who already have to face substantial amounts of the misogyny throughout their career.

Journalism and Media Industries are competitive and in order to self prepare, aspiring journalists, both male and female must understand the current ethical and personal issues that are rife throughout the industries, in which they may have to face. Misogyny within all industries, but especially that of Journalism and Media, will be no quick fix, but through educating oneself and others, encouraging female journalists to stand their ground and making way for those female journalists to come, it is an issue that may never be truely resolved, but can be significantly minimised overtime. In addition, journalists, both uprising and established need to take steps to take responsibility for the information they communicate throughout their work and need to continue to set goals and self criticise in order to always be progressing their career to their next step. Altogether, KJB102: Introduction to Journalism, Media & Communication has brought to light a range of issues that emerging journalists may face when throughout the industry and also how these can be resolved and challenged.

Word Count: 1993

REFERENCES

Bardon, F. (2012). Seen but not heard: how women make front page news
Women in Journalism. Retrieved on 29th May, 2016 from http://womeninjournalism.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Seen_but_not_heard.pdf

Beckett, C. (2008). Chapter 2 : . In Beckett, Charlie, Supermedia : saving journalism so it can save the world, (pp.85). Chichester: Blackwell Publishing.

Carty, S. (2015) Daily Mail Australia. ‘People are quicker to attack a woman than a man’: Female ABC journalists, labelled ‘aggressive’ by Malcolm Turnbull, insist their male colleagues don’t receive the same criticism. Retrieved on 29th May, 2016 from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3086005/ABC-female-journalists-Malcolm-Turnbull-said-aggressive-interviews-say-male-counterparts-not-face-criticism.html

Graduate Recruitment Bureau. (2015). Journalism Industry Profile for Graduates. Retrieved on 29th May, 2016 from http://www.grb.uk.com/journalism-industry-profile

Greenslade, R. (2011) Men still dominate national newspaper journalism. Retrieved on 29th May, 2016 from http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2011/mar/04/women-national-newspapers

Harvard Medical School. (2016) Authorship Guidelines. Retrieved on 29th May, 2016 from https://hms.harvard.edu/about-hms/integrity-academic-medicine/hms-policy/faculty-policies-integrity-science/authorship-guidelines

(IWMF) INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S MEDIA FOUNDATION. (2011). Global Report On The Status Of Women In The Media. Retrieved on 29th May, 2016 from https://www.iwmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/IWMF-Global-Report-Summary.pdf

Keen, Andrew, (2007). Chapter 1 : The Great Seduction. In Keen, Andrew, The cult of the amateur : how today’s internet is killing our culture and assaulting our economy, (pp.11 – 34). London: Nicholas Brealey.

Singleton, J. (2015) The Sydney Morning Herald. Sexism is used to disempower and discredit the work of female journalists and broadcasters. Retrieved on 29th May, 2016 from http://www.smh.com.au/comment/sexism-is-used-to-disempower-and-discredit-the-work-of-female-journalists-and-broadcasters-20150521-gh71nr.html

Swainston, Tony. (2012). The 7cs of Leadership Success; Unlock Your Inner Potential and Become A Great Leader. The Importance Of Setting Goals. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, IN 47403. pp.60.

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