The Inverted Pyramid Podcast

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Journalism is a profession that is changing rapidly. With newspapers on the decline, are there still jobs out there for young journalism graduates? I spoke to experts at RMIT to find out.


Ciaran O’Mahony (CO)

Dr Josie Vine (JV)

Phil Kafcaloudes (PK)

Tito Ambyo (TA)


CO: Welcome to the Inverted Pyramid podcast. I’m your host, Ciaran O’Mahony, and this week we’ll be looking at modern career pathways for journalists.

It’s no secret that print media is steadily declining in this digital age. Some have argued that journalism, as we know it, will eventually die with it.

So are these doomsday predictions correct? Or are they a little exaggerated?

I spoke to Journalism experts at RMIT to find out.


CO: Dr Josie Vine told me that there are different expectations on today’s Journalists, but there are more opportunities than ever in the industry.

JV: I think they need a lot more multimedia skills and digital skills. They need to be able to gather audio and vision and be able to write in a variety of genres, so across hard news, colour features. So it’s a lot more demanding. However, I also think there’s a lot more opportunity for aspiring journalists.

So there’s a lot of challenges for journalism, but there’s also a lot of opportunity. A lot more opportunity than say when I went into journalism back in the mid-90s. Particularly for people like freelancers. I think you can make a lot of money out of freelancing. I’ve got a friend who freelances at the moment and she has so much work she’s knocking it back.


CO: So there are more opportunities in the industry than ever. As the print media door closes, others start to open. And it’s an exciting time for journalism in many ways. Phil Kafcaloudes says that there are still plenty of opportunities with traditional news outlets too.

PK: There are jobs around and there’s a lot of regional jobs around. If newspapers head south as we know they are, their online presence might be ok and they’re putting a lot of effort into the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, they’re putting a lot of effort into online. So because people aren’t opening newspapers doesn’t mean there aren’t any jobs, there certainly are and it’s making some money.


CO: In order to get one of these jobs, we need to be social media savvy and learn how to market ourselves and develop our own personal brand. This can be challenging, as Tito Ambyo explains.

TA: It is becoming more and more like that where if you can tread that fine balance between journalism and talking to people, in a way that captures their imagination, without veering too much on just saying your opinion. Then, I think telling people why you are and you know, marketing yourself out there is becoming one of the main games if you want to get a job in journalism.


CO: So unlike 10-20 years ago, there’s more of an emphasis on marketing yourself, but you to have find the right balance to maintain your integrity as a journalist. It’s an interesting challenge.

And for all of the traditionalists out there who are worried that real journalism is dying. There are some things that will never change.


JV:  The democratic role of a journalist will never change as long as we remain a democracy basically. So the skills and the challenges are very different. But the basic professional mindset, the psyche will never change.



CO: So there you have it. It’s not all doom and gloom guys. There are plenty of opportunities out there for journo grads.

A Big thank you to all of the staff at RMIT, who were so generous with their time and knowledge.

Thanks also to you guys for listening. Keep sharing and subscribing.

You can also follow me on twitter at Ciaran underscore OM. That’s a capital O.M.

Check out my website too-

Until then, see you next time!

Why My Tour of The Age Left Me Feeling a Little Worried

As part of my studies at the University of Melbourne, I got the chance to tour The Age’s Offices in Docklands.

As an aspiring young journalist, I couldn’t have been more excited to see what working for a major news outlet is really like.

But the tour was not what I expected.

We were shown around the office by Data Journalism guru Craig Butt, who brought us to the editorial training room first.

He said that he received much of his writing training in this humble little room and after I spent a few minutes absorbing my surroundings, the Weekday Print Editor, Mark Fuller, entered the room.

Fighting the urge to drop to my knees and beg him to hire me on the spot, I listened intently to his summary of the paper’s daily operations.


Image Credit: Ciaran O’Mahony

It turns out that being the Editor of Melbourne’s biggest newspaper is pretty demanding. Shocking, I know!

But what Fuller said about the current state of the paper really got my attention.


He said that the deadline for story submissions at The Age has been shortened over the last decade due to decreasing print circulation.

These days, staff generally submit their stories by 5 pm, although hard news stories can sometimes be submitted by 6:30-7:00 pm.

Submission deadlines have changed because The Age’s print works in Tullamarine was shut down a decade ago and the paper has done it’s printing off-site ever since.

The demand for news print has been declining for some time, according to Fuller, who said that printing at the old plant was no longer viable due to rapidly decreasing sales.

Australian circulation figures for 2016 confirm this, showing that The Age’s circulation dropped by 9.6%, or over 90,000 papers.

It’s not just an Australian problem either. In the US, print newspaper circulation has decreased for 28 consecutive years, according to the Pew Research Centre.

Why are Newspaper Sales on the Slide?

I felt a brief sense of outrage about this, before I realised that I am part of the problem.

That very morning, I consumed half a dozen news articles on my phone. I had even popped in to a 7/11, brushing past the newspaper stall without giving it a second glance.

Why bother when I have everything I need at the touch of a button?



The paper is struggling for that very reason and it’s little wonder that many experts have argued that the death of the newspaper is imminent.

Although The Age has gradually adapted to the digital era, this has come at the expense of many staff.

Last year Fairfax Media cut 125 of its editors, a whopping 25% of its total editorial staff.

In 2011, the company had 1,000 editorial staff on the books. By the end of 2017, it had 375.

Butt estimated that there are around 50% less staff at The Age now than there were when he started working there a few years ago.

He also pointed out that in 2009, The Age owned 6 floors of the building we were in. It now owns just one- Floor 7.


Fewer staff is a significant problem when you consider that there are now far fewer eyeballs on story drafts.

The Reduction of staff has definitely created more blind spots, according to Butt, as the paper no longer has reporters who specialise in key areas such as legal affairs or the environment.

Specialist reporters are a luxury at this point. The reporters who remain work across both digital and print.

Fuller and Butt say that this has caused a lot of stress around the office as they battle to maintain the accuracy of stories.

After that thoroughly unsettling discussion, we were introduced to Henrietta Cook, the Education Editor.

Despite being the Editor of the entire Education section, she is not currently overseeing any staff- Another example of extensive cutbacks.

Cook writes four or five stories a week herself and says that she writes for The Age’s website first and foremost, rather than the print edition.

It’s clear that the paper is stretched and it cannot cover certain areas as widely as it used to.

That’s a big problem when you consider that news and information is travelling faster than ever thanks to social media.

Indeed, we can access information so quickly and easily now that there is increasing pressure on news outlets to report events and facts as soon as they occur.

There is an even greater expectation that they will report and provide us with a deeper understanding of events in real-time.

On the positive side, the paper has made solid progress towards digitisation. Its website is one of the most popular news sites in the state.

Given that our oldest and most trusted news sources are now moving online, and now charging online subscriptions fees, they may eventually be able to bounce back.

However, it remains to be seen whether they will ever be what they once were.

So are my hopes of becoming a journalist with stable, full-time work, now a pipe dream?

Stay tuned for my upcoming podcast, where I speak to experts from RMIT’s Department of Media and Communications, to interrogate this issue further.

Is Journalism a dying profession? Or is it still a viable option for passionate graduates?

Check out my next blog to find out!

How Journalists Are using Social Media to Their Advantage

There’s no doubt that social media has changed journalism forever.

News is travelling faster than ever and significant delays between the occurrence of events and the news being broken to the public, are a distant memory.

Today, news is shared across the globe instantaneously and journalists must react at lightning speed.

While some have bemoaned the effect of the digital age on their craft, many modern journalists are reaping the benefits of these technological advancements.

In many ways, it is easier for journalists to interact with readers and build their brand, than in the past.

News articles now contain a by-line that not only details an author’s name, but also their twitter handles and other social media accounts.

Building a Following

Journalists can therefore build a loyal audience that will follow their work wherever they go. Whether they switch news outlets or decide to work independently as freelancers, their followers will still be able to access their work at the touch of a button.

It’s a luxury that wasn’t available to journalists just 15 years ago. Back then, citizens read the news from print publications and would easily lose track of their favourite writers if they changed jobs.



Today, we can put a face to a journalist’s name and find out more about the person behind the polished article with ease.

Journalists now have a better understanding of their audience through sharing their work online and then observing the response to it in the comments. They can also increase engagement with consumers by responding to their comments and instigating further discussions and debates.

Connecting with readers by sharing your personal views and opinions on a broad range of issues can have an added bonus of generating new ideas for stories.

That said, journalists must find a balance between engaging with their audience on a personal level and maintaining their professional integrity.

Having a public profile can unfortunately mean that trolls/naysayers can also find you and vent their frustrations with your work. But there is significant evidence that today’s journalists are promoting themselves as well as their outlets more than ever before.

What the Research Shows

A study conducted by Cision showed that between 2012 and 2017, there was a 12 % increase in the number of journalists who posted content on social media daily.

While some old-school journalists have refused to jump on the social media train, 42% of the study’s participants used five or more social media platforms.

Furthermore, around 20% of respondents said that they had hourly interactions with their audience on social media.

There is also an increasing appetite to stay informed via social media. From 2013-2016, the Pew Research Centre found an increase in citizens’ use of every major social media platform for news.

The number of users who consumed news through Facebook grew from 47% to 66%, while Twitter jumped from 52% to 59%.

However, to truly take advantage of the opportunities social media provides, journalists need to be “tech savvy”. Their ability to understand and engage with technology is now a fundamental part of the job.



A study conducted by Lisette Johnston showed that modern journalists not only require a broader skillset, but also that social media content is regularly used in news pieces.

For example, she found that a series of the BBC’s news clips on the crisis in Syria began with footage that was first posted on social media.

The Journalists who participated in the study noted that much of the material they gather such as images, eyewitness information and contacts, come from social media.

According to Johnston, they also stated that they “had to harness a variety of new skills to enable them to ‘harvest’ content uploaded to digital platforms.”

“Being capable of processing user-generated content and being able to navigate social media platforms which audiences inhabit are becoming core skills which journalists need to possess and maintain,” Johnston concluded.

Further experts pointed out that social media should not be viewed as some sort of barrier to “real journalism”, but instead as a gateway to many new and exciting opportunities.

But only if Journalists are willing to learn and embrace new skills.

As Jennifer Alejandro, Director of Global Communications at the Reuters Institute (Oxford University), puts it:

“Journalism is not dead but merely evolving and the journalists of the future need to reinvent themselves too.”

Is the internet killing Magazines?

The rise of the internet and digital media has brought a range of unique and exciting opportunities for young journalists and writers.

However, they also find themselves in an ever-changing and somewhat uncertain industry. Sadly, many experts have argued that the internet will eventually kill print media.

Newspapers will be the first to go, according to experts. Although some non-experts are not convinced.

But I was horrified to discover that magazines are apparently heading in the same direction. As someone who grew up reading sports magazines, I can barely comprehend the idea that future generations will never know the pleasure of building up a print collection of sporting memories.

There is no doubt that the internet poses a major threat to print media, but aren’t these predictions a little premature?

The main problem is advertising. Newspapers make most of their money by selling advertising space and advertising companies have almost completely deserted them in favour of popular websites and apps.

Magazines, on the other hand, might just be able to weather this digital storm because they are not heavily dependent on adverting dollars.

It’s hard to imagine a world without magazines. They’ve been around since the 19th century and have shown a great deal of resilience to survive many periods of technological advancement.

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One of the earliest Magazine publications. Source: Eigenscan. Available under CC BY-NC 2.0. Find here

They managed to retain their appeal despite the invention of film, radio and television. Many felt that each of these forms of media would spell the end for magazines. However, they successfully adapted to each unique challenge.

So why is the internet such a threat?

For decades, print publications were the dominant medium through which we consumed news, politics, gossip and other special interests.

Even in the 1990s, the idea that digital media could pose a major threat to print publications wasn’t taken particularly seriously.

However, things changed dramatically when bulky desktops were replaced with portable gadgets- laptops, smart phones and tablets.

File:Old computer 1.jpg

Old Desktop computer. Source: Cornellanense. Available under CC BY-SA 4.0. Find here

File:Samsung Galaxy Note series 20140614.jpg

Android smart phones. Source: Android Open Source project. Available under CC BY 2.5. Find here








Much of the information that we used to find in print is now much more accessible online. Often for free!

Doomsday predictions have followed ever since. The video below perfectly encapsulates them.

Blogs like my own are also blamed for print media’s imminent downfall.

It’s not surprising that many experts have been so quick to write the print industry off. It’s certainly not the first time that this has happened.

There are numerous examples throughout the history of media where the emergence of a “new medium” was closely followed by forecasts of the “old medium’s” imminent demise.

Academic researchers Ballatore and Natale call this the “myth of the disappearing medium.”

Premature Predictions?

It turns out that in most cases, these forecasts are completely wrong.

So let’s take a quick look at the state of the magazine industry. Is it really all doom and gloom?

It cannot be denied that it is much more difficult for magazines to attract readers and advertisements in the age of digital media. We consume most of our daily news and information online, primarily because it is so quick and convenient.

Magazines struggle to compete with online publications because their articles are generally written months in advance of publication.

File:1973 Vega Ad.jpg

Old magazine advertisement. Source: Chevrolet- Motor trend Magazine. Available under CC BY-NC 2.0. Find here

As a result, the magazine industry’s advertising revenue has consistently declined, year after year.

Magazine circulation has followed a similar trend, decreasing significantly. Australian Women’s Weekly’s total circulation in 2012 was a whopping 60% lower than its circulation in 1991.

Here’s another worrying statistic– 51 million fewer copies of audited magazines were sold in Australia in 2012 compared to 2007. That’s a huge dip in just five years!

Here’s the Good News

But there may still be some life in this old dog yet.

Despite Magazines’ rapidly declining sales and struggles to attract advertising space. There is also evidence that they have retained their own unique cultural appeal.

In 2009-10, Magazine Publishers Australia found that 80% of our population who are over 14 had read one or more magazines per year.

In 2012, 172 million copies of audited magazines were sold. That’s an average consumption rate of 5.5 magazines per second!

When you consider that many popular imported subscription magazines and small magazines are not recorded in these statistics, the industry might not be doing so badly after all. New non-audited magazines are also rapidly emerging.

Circulation figures can also be misleading. Readership figures are a stronger measure of a publication’s impact as they indicate how much a magazine was shared and how many people really consumed the product.

Data from Roy Morgan shows that magazine readership has actually grown from two to three people per magazine to five people per magazine.

So how have magazines survived and to some extent thrived, in the digital age?

The answer is that they have adapted and focused on things that they can deliver to customers that the internet can’t.

Magazine publishers have embarked on a policy of segmentation, focusing their resources on smaller print runs of a greater number of titles and targeting niche audiences rather than the general population.

It’s no accident that many of the magazines you see today are very niche. Golf and fishing magazines that limit their advertising to golf and fishing equipment are a perfect example.

Specialist publications with clearly defined brands can create a specific community that readers become attached to. It’s like these readers are part of an exclusive club. This sense of community cannot be easily replicated by digital media.

Magazine purchasers are generally fairly wealthy so advertisers who sell relevant products are more than happy to purchase advertising space in these niche publications because they know they are reaching individuals who are interested in their products and have the money to buy them.

These publications have kept the industry alive through the rise of television and so far, the rise of the internet.

Another issue that doomsdayers have failed to consider is that the internet and magazines may not necessarily be in competition with each other. Who’s to say that these two forms of media can’t complement each other?

Many magazines have their own websites, which they use to learn more about their audience. Website data and online forums provide them with detailed insights into the values and interests of their readers and they can then use this information to make their product even more appealing.

These websites also increase readers’ engagement with the publication itself.

The internet may have impacted magazines’ advertising revenue and circulation, but they have successfully adapted to the new market.

If the internet does kill the magazine industry, it won’t be any time soon. Magazines are still going strong and they have survived similar technological revolutions before.