Journalism by Numbers: What the Census Tells us about Journalists and Journalism since the 1960s​

Presented by Prof Tom O'Regan and Cathering Young

Date: Friday 26 April, 2019
Time: 3:00pm-4:00pm
Location: Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2), Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37) 


In this paper we use the five yearly census of occupations and industries to develop a comparative historical perspective on Australian journalism stretching from 1961, but especially centred on 1986-2016, to chart the changing and continuing character of journalist employment across both media forms and industries. Connecting these patterns of journalism employment with wider histories of media transformation of which our latest iteration, online media form a part, we show how journalist employment grew well above that for the general workforce for extended periods over this time, accompanied by periods of stasis and occasional declines in 1991, 2011 and 2016. Over this period the writing professions gradually recalibrated from one conducted under the mastersign of journalism to one where journalism and authors became more distinct to a contemporary moment when their boundaries are once again blurring. This shift is mirrored by the rise within journalism of the more author-related professions like that of (newspaper and magazine) editor and that of reviewer, essayist, and columnist at the expense of the reporter professions such as print, radio and television journalist. We then turn our attention to the changing complexion of this employment in both the media and other industries. Focusing particularly on the relation between print, radio, television, and online we link their changing shares of total journalist media industry employment to the changing fortunes of these industries. We conclude with a discussion of how the open internet era (2001-2011) was substantially in continuity with the longue durée of journalism and media development that precedes it while the platform media era (2011-2016) marks a significant departure from them.



Tom O'Regan is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the School of Communication and Arts where he researches the emergence of platform media and the successive waves of media transformation that preceded their Australian development. 

Catherine Young is a PhD student in journalism in the School of Communication and Arts completing a thesis on data journalism exploring how software applications using large datasets are being and could be used by journalists.



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Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2), Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)