A new report released by Medianet has shed light on the role of journalists in Australia.
The 2023 Australian Media Landscape Report was conducted as an anonymous survey of 1,023 journalists working around the country. It included two online surveys in October and November of 2022, with the aim of helping professionals tackle the challenges faced in the journalistic industry.
All answers were anonymous, giving the Medianet team a realistic view of the current media climate, and the trends and changes in the industry over the last few years.
Thanks to this updated information, Aussies are able to better understand the media cycle, and the experiences of the workers within it.
One of the biggest categories brought up in the survey was defamation. Defamation refers to a statement that negatively impacts the appearance of the person or organization it covers. In Australia, anyone who has damaging material published about them is permitted to take legal action. These laws were updated in 2021, awarding plaintiffs new rights which could help to further support defamation suits.
According to the report, these changes mean half of all journalists chose to withhold from publishing information due to fear of defamation, even when they were certain the information was true. They suggested publishers and editors were also highly cautious about presenting potentially offensive material due to the risk of being sued. This revelation raised interesting questions about the sharing of information, and how public opinion impacted the news Australia was being delivered. If journalists are scared of defamation, how will that change their presentation of the facts?
Alongside this, 41 percent of journalists also believed defamation laws are too strict in Australia, particularly when it comes to the media.
Personal and professional
Another strong area of interest was the challenges faced by the industry as a whole. According to the survey, the most common challenges for journalists included money, uncertainty about the future, and mental health.
Many felt the public were showing less interest in the national media, perhaps due to a lack of staff and higher newsroom closures caused by the ongoing effects of Covid-19. Journalists and other professionals within the industry claimed to feel concerned about the continued relevance of journalism, when so many Aussies were less inclined to pay attention.
Alongside these professional challenges lay a series of personal challenges, such as abuse, burnout, and pay.
Many journalists reported feeling burnout due to the heavy nature of the stories they were covering, including war, natural disasters, and Covid. Similarly, 46 percent have experienced harassment because of their work, another impact on their motivation levels.
A big revelation from Medianet’s report centers around gender inequality in the workplace. While there was a slight decrease in the gender pay gap compared to 2021, the 2022 report still revealed that almost a third of male journalists earn more than $100,000 p.a., while only 20 percent of females could report the same.
Female journalists also reported higher levels of abuse or harassment, at around 47 percent, sometimes even coming from within their own teams. This was even more prevalent for non-binary workers, at around 62 percent.
Male journalists were also revealed to be significantly more likely to hold positions of power, including as chief-of-staff, publishers and presenters or announcers. This highlighted how gender equality is yet to be achieved in the workforce, a fact that continues to impact the experiences of female and non-binary workers, and the way they perceive their jobs.
Overall, Medianet’s report will help to track the development of the journalism industry over the year to come. While there were some positive discoveries, the survey also exposed areas that require greater attention and care. For many, 2022 was a difficult year full of difficult stories, and the continued impact has revealed itself in the statistics. The report will hopefully encourage industry leaders to better support their staff and promote equality.
To learn about other workplace challenges, click here.