Just how equal is the media sphere?

Women in media platforms have been significantly undermined to their male counterparts for a substantially long period. The disparity is profoundly evident in the relation to pay, the number of women in newsrooms, as well as the limitations women experience in obtaining higher employment positions.

The understanding that fewer females occupy newsrooms has been evident for more than a decade. In 1999, 63.1% of males occupied newsrooms, compared to a mere 36.9%. What’s astonishing is that in 2012, these figures were exactly the same. What is even more surprising is that in 2013 these figures were even worse, with males occupying 63.7% and females only 36.3%. The rapid transition from print to digital media can be one catalyst for this unequal representation, however the transition has imploded an increase in job opportunities in media as the digital transformation requires new skills and techniques. If job opportunities have increased, then why has the heavy disparity also increased?

In terms of publication, the ratio of male to female bylines in 2012 within UK newspapers was a significant 78:22. Furthermore, women are severely underrepresented in certain reporting areas including politics and sport. When the ’50 leading political reporters in 2012’ was published in the UK Press Gazette, it only included 3 women. When the same paper published the ‘Top 50 sports reporters in 2012’, only 2 were women.

Difference in relation to the income of male vs. female journalists is also prevalent within the industry. Research shows that the median salary of a female journalist is 83% of her male counterpart. it is also extremely difficult for women to receive higher positions, such as CEO and editing positions. The percentage of women in supervisory positions has only increased 1% since 1998.   

If gender inequality in the media is still heavily prevalent in 2014, the question remains; will it ever reduce to non-existence?

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“Print media is nearing its extinction”…Is it? Is it really?

The survival of print media is a contested issue in the contemporary media sphere. While figures undeniably show the substantial decline in newspapers, it is also apparent that online newspapers are not thriving significantly more than print media, as they too continue to simultaneously experience considerable declines. The pessimistic attitude of the future of print media is a colossal issue, however optimistic media experts reveal the key to success to the preconceived idea that print journalism is a dying form.

As print media continues to remain a contested issue, journalists and media platform controllers confident over its existence highlight how a vital transformation is the key to its survival. This transformation is stated by Mathew Ingram, who highlights “the change is from a one-way broadcast model to a multi-directional social model of journalism”. In order to survive, print media must establish a powerfully built relationship with the audience, and create a two-way interaction between the journalist and the audience. Personal relationships between media writers and their audiences are what controls an increasing amount of consumption and revenue.

The City University of New York has taken initiative in this transformation, by offering a degree in social journalism. This master’s course in what is defined as “social and community journalism” develops the skills required to effectively engage with media audiences in a way to develop this crucial relationship.

Chattanooga Times Free Press has also created an innovative idea to keep consumers engaged. “Events on Steroids” is an event portfolio where the newspaper holds approximately one event a month in the community of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Examples of events include two bridal expos a year, a kids expo that draws up to 10 000 people and high-school sports banquet among many more. Through this event, the newspaper is able to actively involve themselves within the community, establishing personal relationships and increasing their revenue as a result.

While the preconceived idea of print media nearing its death is apparent in the media paradigm, perhaps a bigger issue is the pessimist attitude held towards its survival?

The scary media world is no match for UOW students

18 year-old University of Wollongong Communications and Media/Journalism student admiring the latest cover of Vogue

18 year-old University of Wollongong Communications and Media/Journalism student, Montana Soldatic, admiring the latest cover of Vogue

The media industry is vastly transforming, and the uncertainty of specific careers within the field is prevalent. However this doubt might be the exact motivation for the younger generation of aspiring journalists, as University of Wollongong students express their aspirations to enter the journalistic paradigm.

For Montana Soldatic, 18 year old Journalism and Communications and Media student, a career in fashion writing is obvious. With her passion beginning with her mother’s own designs, Montana’s love for all things fashion progressed from simply an interest to a desired career. “My dream job is obviously working at Vogue amongst the great artists and designers” she reveals. The changing industry of the media realm is not off-putting to Montana, as she describes the diligent work ethic needed. “I feel that if you work hard you can achieve anything. I know there are so many strong successful women, like Anna Wintour, doing what they want because of how hard they worked.”

Similarly to Montana, 18-year-old UOW Journalism student Zoe Simmons possesses an immense passion for music and writing, making it obvious that there is no option but to dedicate her life to them. “Music, like writing, is something special. You put your sadness and your heart and soul into your work and it’s beautiful. I couldn’t survive without either.” Despite her knowledge of changing media platforms, Zoe remains optimistic about the future of the media domain, and her position within it. “I don’t think music magazines are that popular. I envision it as more as physically interviewing bands, covering something like Soundwave. But in saying that, I think that magazines will continue to be printed.”

Continuing with the creative journalism categories, Ruben Campbell, 18-year-old Communications and Media student, dreams of following in the footsteps of his journalist mother. “I started to write articles about the Cronulla Sharks when I was about 9. Plus my mother worked for the local paper, so I wanted to do something similar to her.” Inspired by the writings of Paul Kent, Ruben’s ambition of sports writing has led him to already planning to conduct work experience with Kiama Independent. Like both Montana and Zoe, Ruben possesses a strong sense of optimism and drive towards the future of the media industry. “I think sports journalism will become to be more influenced by social media and online blogs, and less people will continue to buy newspapers. But it depends on skill set and how you would present yourself…you have to be passionate.”

In contrast, Annie Hazleton, 18-year-old UOW student, wishes to combine journalism with an unorthodox pairing…science. Combining her love for these two elements, it was during the year 12 period were Annie realised she could combine the two and enter science communication. “It was a great moment.” She expresses.Like all previous students, Annie isn’t phased about the changing effects of the media industry, particularly the transition from print to digital. “Scientists are all about progress. Moving everything online? Yes please!” Annie is further driven by the notion that most of the ‘successful’ science communicators are male, which she believes acts as a deterrent to females wanting to enter the science field. She aims to prove to herself and to the science communication community that women are just as capable.

With diverse dreams within the journalistic world, one commonality among all students is evident…they are all willing to take on the revolutionising world of the media.

 

“The year I started hitting faster national qualifying times was the year I had to decide what was more important…swimming or studying?

18-year-old University of Wollongong Engineering student Daniel Fusco

18-year-old University of Wollongong Engineering student Daniel Fusco

The final two years of high school prove to be the most crucial. Most are required to impose cutbacks in their lives to accommodate to the amount of study time required…social lives are reduced, the number of undertaken sports is reconsidered, and excuses including “I have so much work to do” are used to avoid tedious family get-togethers. However for 18-year-old University of Wollongong engineering student Daniel Fusco, the cutbacks were more severe than that.

What began as simply an out of school activity, swimming evolved to become essential to Daniel’s life. After numerous years of training at Corrimal Swim Club, Daniel began to train and compete competitively for the next 5 years, involving up to 15 hours a week. As the sport began to become more important than simply an after-school activity, the idea of competing professionally became a prominent possibility.

“There was a stage when I started to become serious about making a career out of swimming. My coach was pretty serious about me trying to make it. I put a lot of effort into the sport simply because I enjoyed it.”

But momentous external factors prevailed, and as school began to become more intense Daniel was presented with the hardest ultimatum he had faced thus far…swimming or school? Ultimately, Daniel chose to focus on his HSC and put swimming on the back foot, however this proved too difficult, and he found himself in a position where he had to remove swimming from his life altogether.

“While I did try and cut down my time in the water for a few months, it was too hard to keep up with the pace of my squad. Eventually I decided to cut training out completely for my HSC.”

To completely abolish something that possesses a colossal significance is not easy, however Daniel approached the situation without a sense of pessimism, and has since embraced his decision.

“I found other avenues to replace swimming as an outlet. Piano playing was another long-term commitment that I continue to do, which I started about 8 or 9 years ago. I also started surfing around 4 years ago. Although I don’t swim in a club anymore, these activities serve the same purpose…I can use them as a release.”

Although the absence of swimming would be felt from time-to-time, gained interests have resulted in diverse commitments that act as a substitute for full-time swimming. Although Daniel is only nearing the end of his first semester in Electrical Engineering, a passion for what the course entails is not a recent development.

“I have been interested with electronics since about year 7 when I worked on an electric motor with my Dad for a project. However I only really started getting serious with it in the past few years since I got into working with micro controllers.”

While at one point competitive swimming was the major focus in Daniel’s life, his decision to remove it completely has allowed him to develop a passion for numerous interests and commitments in a diverse range of fields, all serving a significant purpose to his life as a university student.