1000 media jobs go

by Chris Griffith
Published May 1994 in The Moreton Bay Bug


my face


A thousand journalists', artists', and photographers' jobs gone since 1990! That's the grim scenario, according to the journalist union's submission to the 1992 print-media inquiry.

That's one in 12 AJA members!

Now, even more are out of work.

The closure of afternoon daily news-papers, the gutting of TV and radio news rooms, and the demise of independent regional news services have turned the 90s into an impoverished news age: impoverished in news quality, particularly at a local and regional level.

Syndication and centralisation are certainly the media buzz words this decade!

Sure. There's still the morning dailies, radio and TV news and current affairs, and an ever increasing abundance of magazines and small papers targeting niche markets. But few have the resources and where they do, the will to dig deeply and seek-out the real stories about our politicians, governments, and bureaucracies - indeed about our country's future.

In the last two years, I've worked in all three media - as a newspaper columnist with The Sun-Herald, on TV as researcher with The 7.30 Report, and most recently, on radio as a producer and journalist with Pamela Bornhorst's drive-time program. The last of these ended in April when 4BH axed its talk line-up.

It's sad to lose one's job, and it's sad to see colleagues lose theirs. Gone with them is their capacity to report with their unique sense of perspective and history.

Hopefully, with time, they'll be re-employed. Many now-former journalists are among the most experienced, skilled, and respected in the industry.

Equally devastating is the employment situation for young, would-be journalists. They must wonder if there's any long-term prospects in this ever-shrinking news industry. Many of them must think: "why bother studying journalism?".

Nevertheless, a massive challenge in the media lies ahead. Quality journalism and the determination to report fearlessly without favour must survive the onslaught of media manipulation by government. Investigative reporting must survive the media's own form of economic rationalists who see it as a totally unproductive, resource-intensive activity.

The challenge is to achieve quality journalism in this new environment totally dominated by the joustings of newspaper mega-proprietors, and the more perennial concerns of ratings and circulation figures. Journalism remains an integral part of our democracy, the so-called fourth estate. The demands on journalists are as never before.

by Chris Griffith