Turning into a pessimist

So I’ve been  doing my Masters this year. Loving it so far, though it turns out not only do you not get the floppy hat on graduation, but people don’t call you “Master” just because you have a masters degree.


Anywho, it’s been really fantastic to be able to sit in a room with a whole bunch of creative people and bounce ideas around. It’s such a stimulating environment: everyone is so motivated and smart and driven!

It wreaks havoc with the old self-esteem apparently.

It’s coming to the end of the semester and I did a quick review of some of the stuff I submitted.

Here’s a sample:

“To be blunt, the future of my practice, in Australia and the Western world at least, isn’t looking too crash hot.

My practice is journalism which is, in my opinion, an endangered species.

Having read several earlier posts, there seems to be an emerging trend of optimism in other creative industries, particularly regarding the promise the digital age seems to hold. Conversely, I feel the digital era could well be the undoing of journalism as we know it.

Newspaper readership is haemorrhaging as people log online and read for free. Television and radio news are being gradually whittled and eroded down to only the slickest, sexiest soundbytes; current events reduced to shock jock slander and celebrity rehab. Pursuit of the All Mighty Dollar is slowly destroying journalism. Budget cuts have led to a perpetually shrinking number of employed journalists while the workload grows exponentially, largely thanks to digital platforms and the 24-hour news cycle. These pressures force journalists to regurgitate press releases, turning news into easy-to-swallow infortainment and advertorials.

While this may seem an overly pessimistic outlook, it is supported by research. A recent survey from the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, in conjunction with online newspaper, Crikey, found that, over a five day week, across 10 hard-copy papers, a staggering 55% of stories driven by public relations. More than half. Good news for the PR industry at least.

The ideal of a free, vocal Fourth Estate acting as the watchdog of democracy is bowing to media monopolies, onslaughts of public relations and thinly-veiled spin posing as honest reporting.

An additional vulnerability of journalism is that, as opposed to the more traditional creative practices, journalism’s place in future isn’t fixed. People will always recognise and appreciate the value of art, but they are quick to dismiss, even deride journalism.

Despite all this, overseas markets do hold some allure and promise for journalists. The media industries in burgeoning powerhouse nations like India and China are showing significant growth and opportunities. So, globally speaking, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Back home, the Australian media industry is in desperate need of fresh perspectives, new patterns of thinking and innovative ways to capitalise on our burgeoning digital society. That’s where we creatives come in, I hope.

Journalism is imperative for a functional, democratic society, it remains to be seen whether this will be recognised, or sacrificed in favour of monetary gains.”

Man, I’m a downer!

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