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September 13, 2008 / Amy Bradney-George

Aspiring Australian journalists – “do something new”

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance and the Walkley Foundation held Brisbane’s Future of Journalism conference today, the second of the series which will be held in capital cities around Australia this year. I was on the second panel with two other final-year journalism students from Griffith University, Denis Semchenko and Tran Nguyen. Stateline‘s John Taylor moderated our discussion about how we, as young people, consume news and how we see the future of journalism.

It’s an interesting topic and one that I looked at in my last post, but also something I could talk about for an indefinite amount of time. One of the things I brought up today was that I think it’s important for aspiring journalists to learn from journalists working today and those who have worked in the past. I was thinking about it because during my last internship I found all the journalists I worked with were really accommodating and understanding of the fact that I was a student trying to do my best and get a practical knowledge of the industry. I’m fairly conscious of taking up peoples time and it was encouraging to have journalists acknowledge that I was part of the future of journalism.

I felt it was important to tell journalists that I think their contribution to our learning is valued, so I brought it up today. I said “it’s important for us to learn from journalists working today so that we can develop the skills they value and use them as we move forward.” I’m quoting this particular sentiment because in a later panel about blogging, QUT Creative Industries lecturer and extensive blogger Axel Bruns seemed to misrepresent what I meant.

He said he disagreed because he thought it could limit innovation within journalism if we just kept learning the same skills set over and over without any change (I’m paraphrasing, so please correct me if I’ve got it wrong). While I believe innovation is important in all creative industries, I also think it’s hard to move forward without any foundations. There is quality journalism in this country, you need look no further than the Walkley Awards or the various state media awards for it, and I think that aspiring journalists need to acknowledge the legacy of these journalists by learning from them.

Of course we won’t be doing the exact same things, or at least not those of us that want to survive. In any creative industry you can’t really thrive unless you bring something new, something unique and appealing to the table. However, learning from those already in the industry is essential for true innovation to be achieved. How can you innovate if you don’t fully understand what innovation would be in your industry? How could that innovation be effective if you don’t have the basic skills accepted for that industry? Change is often a gradual process – it’s taken fifteen or so years for journalists to be fatalistically concerned about the internet – and while innovation is important, I don’t think you can have it without a sound understanding of what you’re innovating.

I also found it a bit interesting, coming from someone working in an academic industry. I know enough about academia to see that a lot of it is referring to people who have come before you so that you can support your own views. I think that’s important, and it seems most academics do too, so why then was the logic missed today?

Furthermore, I would like to point out that the fact I mentioned learning so that we can move into the future was left out. I’m assuming it was a simple mistake (easily made by all of us) but it was frustrating to have someone refer to something I’d said out of it’s original context especially when I couldn’t respond. So out with the old soapbox to ensure I have my say, defend my thoughts and elaborate in case anyone who misinterpreted it comes by.

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4 Comments

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  1. Staycee Johns / Sep 25 2008 7:56 pm

    I just wanted to say, I am not a journalist and have no training as a journalist. However, as someone who has followed the career of Miss Bradney George, as she makes her mark on the industry as an innovative journalist, I would like to say that she is correct in saying “I also think it’s hard to move forward without any foundations”. How is that new emerging journalists can be innovative when they are not encouraged to follow a basic foundation and expand on and make stronger the foundations that already exists. I believe it is necessary to learn from the journalists currently writing, this means the good an the bad. If all the journalism was bad then why do awards such as the Walkley Awards exist? Perhaps this is just my practical mind, trying to justify the endless hours of work put in by current and past journalists to create a foundation strong enough to sustain their own work but with possible weaknesses that can then be altered and built upon by the ‘innovative’ new journalists.

  2. reenasally / Oct 13 2008 12:32 pm

    The publication in 1919 of Smith’s Weekly by former Lord Mayor of Sydney, Sir Joynton Smith, Claude Mc Kay, Clyde Packer and JF Archibald, co-founder of The Bulletin, was responsible for the resurgence of Australian illustrators and cartoonists and their resulting influence in the national daily press. the Society’s early members was Stan Cross, one of the original Smiths’ cartoonists, considered by many to be one of Australia’s greatest newspaper artists. In July 1933, he drew what is still said to be the funniest joke ever produced in Australia.
    ————
    Sally
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