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Forging a journalism career in the era of digital disruption

Journalism is an industry with a rich history steeped in tradition. But the industry has been challenged in recent years by frequent, dramatic shifts in news consumption habits, rendering some media outlets dinosaurs at risk of extinction. Although a dubious future is there in black and white, students like Jasmine Batrouney see the demise of traditional media as an opportunity. ‘It’s time to get creative,’ she smiles optimistically.

The journalism student, who’s in her second year of a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) at Deakin University, isn’t talking out of naivety, but a refreshing openness. She’s acutely aware that free digital media has disrupted journalism’s past business models, leading to redundancies and clipped budgets as organisations try to make ends meet. While many legacy media outlets have tried digital subscriptions and new forms of monetisation to no avail, Jasmine points out that despite these challenges, people are still hungry for news. Her mantra is: ‘Don’t stop telling the news, just start telling it in a different way.’

She’s learned that fostering a diverse skillset is key to embracing digital journalism. ‘We’ve been taught to use digital and do assignments with our mobile phones,’ she says of her degree, which is providing her with a mindset that will enable her to embrace swift changes, rather than retreat from them.

Jasmine has also been taught to apply these principles across television, radio and print, which gives her a Swiss army knife of knowledge to draw on. ‘You’ve got to know how to do everything. You’re taught to use what you have,’ she says.

Breaking free of past constraints

Social media has levelled the journalism playing field of who’s creating content and where discussions are taking place, fuelling new movements of citizen journalism that bypasses traditional media outlets in the name of truth-seeking. Millennials are increasingly turning to social media for coverage of breaking news, but there is still a need for accuracy in reporting.

‘You’ve got to go where people are engaging with their news,’ Jasmine says. By embracing the online forums, Jasmine believes she can help enrich debate in the digital spheres.

Another way she’ll set herself apart is by seeking out stories that need to be told and challenging the majority. Her interest in sparking debate developed through a Year 12 assignment on the NSW king hit laws – an issue dominating the front pages at the time. She explains that taking a position in support of the laws would have been simple. That’s what everyone else was doing after all. ‘I investigated and thought outside the box. The crime normally happens in the moment, so you’re not going to be able to stop it with a law.’ Going against the grain paid off. ‘A lot of people ended up agreeing with me,’ Jasmine recalls.

Having the strength and defiance to challenge the status quo has enabled her to gather support from fellow students and although she’s only in her second year, Jasmine is the president of Deakin’s Journalism Society, a position that enables her to inspire those around her and build industry connections.

'Don’t stop telling the news, just start telling it in a different way.'

Jasmine Batrouney,
Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) student, Deakin University

Driving the narrative

By rethinking the role of a journalist Jasmine has developed a broader outlook on society in Australia. Utilising digital tools to spark discussion between people of all ages and backgrounds across the nation motivates her. ‘Generations aren’t talking to each other and it creates a divide in the opinions of the nation,’ she says.

If the recent election campaign at home and events such as Brexit overseas are any indication, Jasmine is right about the splintering of generational values. In Australia, the boomer–millennial culture gap is growing daily due to debates such as housing affordability, negative gearing and superannuation. But again, Jasmine remains open and confident that she can help bridge the divide. ‘I think if we can get everyone together we can spark new discussions and reach wider audiences,’ she adds.

For Jasmine, the future of journalism will be debate, not clickbait. It will happen on relevant platforms in innovative, evolving ways. And it will require agile storytellers such as herself to lead the charge.

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