Journalism Essay Example




Journalism is an investigative practice of communication. This method of inquiry has an aim of providing the public with services through dissemination and analysis of different aspects of news (Allan, 2007). The integrity of journalism is founded on the principles of truth, disclosure and editorial independence (Cates, 2004). The mediums used in journalism are diverse, which means that the professionals in this field of communication can operate from print media, such as newspapers and magazines, to electronic broadcast such as television channels (Allan, 2007). In the contemporary society the use of digital media has become a characteristic of journalism. This paper aims at providing an overview of journalism as an area of professional communication practice. This will be through understanding the issues involved in the practice of journalism.

The routine role of a journalist

Journalism is a wide area of communication practice. Professionals in this area have a major role of finding and presenting information. This information is often presented as news to the audience in the form of newspapers, magazines, radio, television and digital platforms such as the internet (Cates, 2004). Within different media channels there are specialist tasks of journalist. For instance in large media houses every journalist is expected to specialize in one task that will define his or her job description. However, in smaller media houses journalist may take up multiple roles (Ricketson, 2012). It is important to note that irrespective of the size if the organization, the following are employment positions in different media houses;


These journalists have a responsibility of gathering and presenting information in a written or spoken format. These formats can be used in news stories, or as a feature in an article or a documentary. In some media houses there are reporters who specialized in specific areas such as politics, agriculture, culture, art and sports among other areas of specialization (Allan, 2007).


These are journalists who work closely with the reporters. Their main role is take the information gathered by the reporters and organizes them in a form that meets the special needs of the specific media house (Cates, 2004). Sub-editors never participate in gathering of information. This is due to the fact that their responsibility is to be concerned with the best way through which information can be presented to the audience (Cates, 2004). These professionals use psychological manipulative techniques to ensure that information is organized in such a way that it appeals to the intended audience. This is only made possible when the sub-editor understands his or her audience especially on their areas of interests. A sub editor reports to the chief sub-editor (Cates, 2004)


This is an area of specialization in journalism. Professionals in this area use photographs as a way of reporting news. They perform this role by either covering the events on information gathered by a reporter or take photographs to illustrate a story that is being presented. In some situations, they also attend news events of their own and cover the pictures they consider necessary in presenting the intended news. These pictures can be presented as stories when they have captions (Allan, 2007).

The editor

This is a professional in journalism who has the role of making the final decision on the content of the news that is to be presented in any media platform that is of interests to a particular media house (Allan, 2007). The editor is responsible for all the content and the journalist and this means that he must ensure that information gathered and given for editorial analysis meets the required standards of the organization (Cates, 2004). In addition, it is necessary in large media houses for editors to have assistants that help them in the execution of their roles (Cates, 2004).

News editor

This is a journalist who is in charge of news journalists. In small media houses, the news editor takes up the roles of deciding the news that is to be covered and the journalist that are to be sent to work on the news area identified. In large organizations, the news editor may be deputized by the chief of staff whose major role is often to assign journalist on the stories that they are to handle (Cates, 2004).

News anchors.

This is a special team of journalist that give the information gathered by the reporters to the public. This can be done through the radio or television. These presenters have the responsibility of giving information as instructed by editor and director (Meyer, 2002). They often possess proper communication and interpersonal skills which allow them to present news in an audible and fluent manner. In addition, they are required to be knowledgeable on the subject matter to enhance their ability to conduct interviews while presenting news Meyer, 2002).

This is a group of specialist that play the role of documenting information that is gathered by the reporters. In some instances the writers document stories that revolve around the current affairs, giving their perspective on those issues that are considered of interest to the general public (Ricketson, 2012). In smaller organizations, the reporter doubles up as the writer. There are specialized writers whose major role is to produce personal commentary columns, and in other circumstances they also review performances, books and art (Allan, 2007). This group of writers is often employed based on the knowledge they possess about given areas of interests and their ability to write well. Once written and authenticated by the editor, the article or program is given to a producer who organized its production process. It is important to note that the producer must work in consultation with the executive producer who is often in charge of all programs in a media house (Allan, 2007).

The general profile of those involved in journalism

The field of journalism attract individuals with different qualities considering that each area of journalism requires a different expertise to ensure that efficiency and effectiveness is propagated. There is however specific variable that is to be taken into consideration as essential in outlining the profile of a journalist they include:

This is highly dependent on the job description of an individual. Journalists are expected to be knowledgeable and mature enough to attend to their responsibilities. Entry of adults in journalism is majorly attributable to their level of maturity and understanding. In addition, their experience in life also contributes to the positions that they hold either as editors or writes for any media house (Cates, 2004). Their extensive experience also allows adults who get involved in journalism to specialize in particular areas such as technology, sports or politics (Cates, 2004).

The young generation are also hired in different areas of journalism. They are considered as essential assets in any media house due to their ability to learn faster compared to their adult counterparts (Cates, 2004). In addition, they are active and are considered as active and can engage in participatory roles especially when gathering information about a community or any other area of focus through the participant method of data collection in the field (Journalism Education Association, 1900). It is important to note that with the current technological advancement, media houses are attracted to employing the younger generation due to their ability to effectively operate and manipulate digital technology in ways that suit the interest s of the media houses (Meyer, 2002).

Education background

The education background of those involved in this area of communication practice is highly dependent on the area of specialization. The editors of national newspapers and television content are a group of journalists who play an essential role in providing editorial direction and content publication that are essential in the production of stories that are ultimately aired in radio and television news. These individuals possess background education in journalism (Allan, 2007). In Australia for instance most journalists possess undergraduate degrees in journalism. This is an essential requirement since it provides journalists with an overview of their job description. For an editor, such as that of The Australian, additional education on editing and management is essential considering that he or she must authenticate the make a decision on those new articles or reports that qualify to be aired on television or in radio (Ricketson, 2012). It is important to note that this individual is in charge of all the other journalists (Meyer, 2002). This means that background in management training plays a vital role in enhancing his or her relationship with the other journalists. These are not only essential for editors but also for that journalist who take up managerial roles (Siapera & Veglis, 2012).

News presenters are also a group of journalists that require additional educational qualifications other than a degree in journalism. It is important to note that for a news presenter to adequately present information given, he or she must possess better communication skills (Cates, 2004). The news presenters in Australian media houses have qualifications in language training as this is considered essential in enhancing their understanding and ability to speak fluently an audibly in the language of choice. Interpersonal skills are also attributes shared by not only the news presenters but also other journalist such as reporters who engage different audiences (Cates, 2004). There is need that they build a rapport with the audience to be able to create an environment that is considered as suitable in the interviewing process. Public relations (PR) is a major qualification that these individuals possess to be able to convince the interviewee that they are equal to the task that is accorded to them (Allan, 2007).

Journalism in Australia just as the role of women in the workplace is increasingly experiencing some aspects of evolutions. It is important to note that these two entities are not experiencing developments in a harmonious way. This is attributable to the fact that in journalism training institutions women outnumber men. This is also experienced in their entry into the job market (Allan, 2007). The discord is in the number of women in senior positions in this form of communication practice. The pay gap between males and females in journalism is relatively high due to variety of reasons that some scholars have attributed to gender bias. It is important to note that in some media houses, female journalists find it hard to maintain their positions in old age (Meyer, 2002). This is especially so in situations where that take career breaks. This situation has been on the rise to the rising youthful population who are considered as efficient in terms of speed, neatness and accuracy in the process of executing their work compared to the aging women (Cates, 2004).

Female representation in journalism is increasingly affected by their feminine nature which is considered as an impediment in the roles that they are allocated (Siapera & Veglis, 2012). In most of the news channels in Australia, women frequently talked about how their editors and directors often encouraged them to take up softer features especially in reporting about lifestyle stories and discouraged them from engaging in news that are considered controversial (Koivisto et al, 2010). These varying perspectives have contributed to fewer women journalist in political and security concerns while most of the women are concentrating on social and less controversial issues (Sawer et al, 2009).

Journalism attracts different groups of people in the Australian society. These individuals are often driven by different desires. One of the leading desires is that of writing. Many individuals join journalism in Australia since they would like to make a living from writing (Koivisto et al, 2010). These individuals often perceive of themselves as future novelists and journalism provides a perfect platform where they can not only gather experience on writing skills. It is also a platform upon which they get to meet different people in the community and broaden their knowledge and understanding of different aspects of life (Cates, 2004).

Journalism also attracts the popular in the society. This is a group of people who like attention and they possess the desire of being known. These individuals base their beliefs in the fact that when they acquire recognition for being who they are they will acquire some status in the community (Sawer et al, 2009). This has also been a contributing factor to the fall of journalism as a communication practice since most of those who join the practice with the objective of impressing the audience fail in their role of satisfying their needs (Cates, 2004).

Journalism attracts a class of people who join the practice to influence for the good of the society. These individuals understand the power that the printed, spoken words or images presented have on the mindset of the people (Meyer, 2002). This class of journalist recognize the essential role they play in influencing the population as channels of communication whose main role is to interpret for the general public to enhance their understanding of current and past issues (Journalism Education Association, 1900). In Australia, the media is referred to as the fourth estate. This is based in the level of influence that they have on the society. The other three estates include the government, the judiciary and the church (Koivisto et al, 2010). The fourth estate plays an essential role in providing a balance and an advocacy to the rights of the ordinary citizens against potential and actual abuses from the power and the authority that the other three estates enjoy in the society. This has been a contributing factor for young people who are entering the profession (Koivisto et al, 2010).

Requirements of entry into journalism

For an individual to qualify as a journalist in Australia, it is a requirement that he or she must demonstrate aspects of being inquisitive. This encompasses the ability of the individual to conduct an investigative research about financial operations of a given project. This means that he or she must be curious to possess the desire of knowing that which goes on in the world around (Allan, 2007).

It is also a requirement for a journalist to be sceptical. He or she must not take things at face value; instead he should consider ministerial presentations to the press as only a start to his investigative role. A good journalist must always question his sources and conduct in depth studies until he find the facts (Cates, 2004).

It is required that a journalist demonstrates some spirit of determination in that which he or she chooses to pursue. This is especially in situations where a given group of people refuse to be interviewed yet they possess information that is vital for the success of a journalists’ project (Allan, 2007). While demonstrating this spirit it is important for a journalist to endure all the hurdles to bring to the open all the controversial issues those leaders or any other members of the society sometimes keep away from the public (Koivisto et al, 2010).

It is important for an individual interested in journalism to have a proper understanding of that which is considered as general knowledge. This means that any individual interested in journalism must always be updated with the prevailing issues. This can only be realized when the said individual is in constant access of information that is considered as necessary. These include issues in the area of politics, cultural and social aspects (Cramerotti, 2009).

It is also a requirement that an individual with an interest in journalism must possess good communication, personal and interpersonal skill. This will be essential in the creation of proper relations with the other members of the fourth estate. The public will be able to gain trust and confidence in such a journalist (Cramerotti, 2009).

One of the aspects that are considered as important in ensuring success in journalism is the ability of a journalist to make contacts (Sacco, 2012). Journalists realize that things happen all the time and this makes it important to have people on the ground that can provide information considering that a journalist cannot be positioned in all places at all times to be able to capture events as they happen (Allan, 2007). Making contacts involves establishing friendship relations with different people in the society in different locations. These people must be strategically positioned to provide information as and when they happen (Meyer, 2002). Such contact people can be equipped with material for collection and reporting of information as a way of ensuring that operations are effective and efficient. The provision of technical skills also defines the role of education and qualification in journalism (Cramerotti, 2009)

Education qualifications are essential in journalism since they prepare an individual for the practical experiences on the ground. It is important to note that the skills provided for in journalism equip individuals with good communication skills that enhance the techniques used in the development and passing of information to the audience (Cramerotti, 2009). Education qualifications also impart ethical skills in journalists. These skills ensure that journalism practice, while adhering to specific codes that define their modes of operation. These skills also help an individual in learning how to operate different equipment and tools necessary in journalism (Koivisto et al, 2010).

Organizational structure

Journalism as an area of communication practice embraces a hierarchical organization structure. The hierarchical organizational structure provides a vertical channel of communication with the management securing the top position in the structure. Fairfax Media is an example of media channel in Australia that operates with this form of structure (Lanham et al, 2013).


The media houses in Australia for instance play an essential role of employing journalist at different levels depending on their levels of qualification and the positions available. The Australian journalism market is populated by different media houses that are both large and small (Lanham et al, 2013). Some of these media companies include Fairfax, News Limited, Rural press and APN among others. These companies only attract qualified personnel to work and help in the realization of company goals and objectives (Lanham et al, 2013).

Labour and trade unions such as the Australian Journalists Association (AJA) and the Alliance Online play an essential role in the advocacy of the rights of journalists (Lanham et al, 2013). These organizations have a mandate of ensuring that journalist is accorded fair treatment as required by the human rights law. In addition, these organizations also provide a platform upon which journalist can share views and develop proposals concerning their salaries, wages and the benefits that are considered necessary in enhancing their modes of operation (Lanham et al, 2013).

Issues currently facing journalism in Australia

The number of people purchasing newspapers has been declining considering that most people are currently subscribing to online news. The development of technology is therefore in itself a benefit and a challenge to journalism. Numerous newspaper companies are finding it difficult to fund their operations and this is a threat to their existence (Franklin, 2013). It is no doubt that society, over the years has been dependent on operations of journalism, more so newspapers to get an interpretation of the current events. This begs the question of how the society threat to the existence of newspapers will affect the overall functioning of the society (Kaye & Quinn, 2010).

Other than online news channels, Journalism is also threatened by the existence of social sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Those who are subscribed to these media channels are able to get information as and when they happen (Franklin, 2013). This means that the traditional role of journalists to report news is being overshadowed by these social sites. With this type of competition, media channels have resorted to the presenting their consumers with information they want to know rather than that which they need to read (Manne, 2005).

Key developments in journalism over the next 10 years

With the current development in technology different media companies are initiating strategies that will ensure that journalists remain relevant. One of the strategies that newsrooms in Australia desire to initiate is the creation of a platform that opens up the news process to outsiders (Franklin, 2013). According to the studies done by the Australian Research Council, an interactive platform will ensure that the news rooms get information as and when they happen while at the same time keeping the integrity of the information that Australians receive from the media (Franklin, 2013). This is viewed as an essential strategy that when implemented can adequately compete with other social media sites

Questions have been raised concerning the integrity and authenticity of the news received from the public that do not possess the necessary training on matters of journalism. The implementation of this strategy according to research findings will use the interactive segment as a gossip platform where that promotes interaction between different members of the public (Franklin, 2013).

The initiation of a curriculum centred on offering updated skills to journalists is also a major plan that is envisioned for the development of this area of communication practice. The application of technology in enhancing the delivery of content will play an essential role in helping journalist learn of the necessary skills needed to understand the dynamic world of journalism (Franklin, 2013).


Journalism is one of the numerous communication practice areas that have been witnessing transformation due to the changes in technology. The process of gathering, organizing and presenting information is at the centre of journalism (Cates, 2004). This is done by different individuals in a hierarchical organization structure. Other than personal qualities, it is important for a journalist to possess adequate education qualification which provides skills necessary for a practical experience in journalism (Sacco, 2012). Despite the role that journalists play in the provision of information, other media channels such as social network sites have introduced digital platforms that enhance access to instant news. This has prompted newsrooms to initiate strategies that enhance their relevance in this digital age.


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