'Don't rock the boat': Pervasive precarity and industrial inertia among Queensland journalists
While considerable academic attention has been paid to the effect of industry turbulence on journalists’ perceptions of their professional identity and the normative values of journalism over the past two decades, there has been less focus on how transformations wrought by digital incursion, corporate economising, and the rise of neoliberal ideologies might have injured journalist’s industrial agency. This article argues that journalists’ willingness to assert or advance their industrial rights at work has been diminished in Australia by the increase in precarity that has arisen as a result of shifts in the media landscape. It argues disruption has created precarious working environments in which uncertainty and fear drive an unprecedented and almost universal sense of self-preservation that has detached journalists from industrial engagement and the mechanisms that support safe and secure working conditions—to the detriment of the journalism industry and the public it serves.
Alvesson, M. (2003). Methodology for close up studies: Struggling with closeness and closure. Higher Education, 46, 167-193. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1024716513774 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024716513774
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2020, December 11). Trade union membership. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/earnings-and-work-hours/trade-union-membership/latest-release#data-download
Bishop, J., & Chan, I. (2019). Is declining union membership contributing to low wages growth? Reserve Bank of Australia. Retrieved from https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/rdp/2019/pdf/rdp2019-02.pdf
Bonyhady, N. (2020, December 11). Union membership dips again but members earn much more. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/union-membership-dips-again-but-members-earn-much-more-20201211-p56msk.html
Bowden, B. (2017, July 5). Three charts on: the changing face of Australian union members. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/three-charts-on-the-changing-face-of-australian-union-members-80141
Brannick, T., & Coghlan, D. (2007). In defense of being native: The case for insider academic research. Organizational Research Methods, 10(1), 59-74. https://doi.org/10.1177/1094428106289253 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1094428106289253
Bray, M., & Macneil, J. (2011). Individualism, collectivism, and the case of awards in Australia. Journal of Industrial Relations, 53(2), 149–167. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022185610397139 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022185610397139
Bray, M., Macneil, J., & Spiess, L. (2021). Unions and collective bargaining in Australia in 2020. Journal of Industrial Relations, 63(3), 338–356. https://doi.org/10.1177/00221856211003597 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00221856211003597
Carr, D. (2014). Risks abound as reporters play in traffic. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/24/business/media/risks-abound-as-reporters-play-in-traffic.html?_r=0
Cooper, R., & Ellem, B. (2013). The state against unions: Australia’s neo-liberalism, 1996–2007. In Global Anti-Unionism (pp. 163-183). London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137319067_9
Cooper, R., Ellem, B., Briggs, C., and van den Broek, D. (2009). Anti-unionism, employer strategy and the Australian state, 1996–2005. Labor Studies Journal, 34(3), 339–362. https://doi.org/10.1177/0160449X08319656 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0160449X08319656
Das, J. (2007). Sydney freelance journalists and the notion of professionalism. Pacific Journalism Review, 13(1), 142-160. https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v13i1.890 DOI: https://doi.org/10.24135/pjr.v13i1.890
Davies, N. (2009). Flat earth news: An award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media [eBook]. London, UK: Vintage. https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=U2E79Pq0ZDwC&pg=GBS.PA1&lr=&printsec=frontcover
Dorney, G. (2018, October 18). New parliamentary report on union decline. HRM Online. https://www.hrmonline.com.au/enterprise-bargaining/report-union-decline/
Dwyer, D. K. (1996). Questioning between heartbeats: The interviewing techniques of journalists. Performance Improvement, 35(7), 16-19. https://doi-org.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/10.1002/pfi.4170350706 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/pfi.4170350706
Dwyer, T., Wilding, D., & Koskie, T. (2021). Australia: Media concentration and deteriorating conditions for investigative journalism. In J. Trappel, & T. Tomaz (Eds.), The Media for Democracy Monitor 2021: How leading news media survive digital transformation (Vol. 1, pp. 59–94). Nordicom, University of Gothenburg. https://doi.org/10.48335/9789188855404-2
Fair Work Commission. (2018, June 15). What is ‘injuring’ the employee in his or her employment? Retrieved from https://www.fwc.gov.au/general-protections-benchbook/adverse-action/injuring-employee-in-their-employment#field-content-0-heading
Fenwick, C., & Howe, J. (2009). Union security after Work Choices. In A. Forsyth & A. Stewart (Eds.), Fair work: The new workplace laws and the work choices legacy (pp. 164–185). Alexandria, NSW: Federation Press.
Fisher, C., Flew, T., Park, S., Lee, J. Y., & Dulleck, U. (2020). Improving trust in news: Audience solutions. Journalism Practice, 15(10), 1497-1515. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2020.1787859 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2020.1787859
Fitzsimmons, K., & Smith-Frigerio, S. (2020). Still there for you?: Why millennials still love generation X’s friends. Ohio Communication Journal, 58(March), 91–104. https://www.ohiocomm.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Fitzsimmons-Smith-Frigerio-OCJ-2020.pdf
Gahan, P., Pekarek, A., & Nicholson, D. (2018). Unions and collective bargaining in Australia in 2017. Journal of Industrial Relations, 60(3), 337–357. https://doi.org/doi:10.1177/0022185618759135 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022185618759135
Gilfillan, G., & McGann, C. (2018). Trends in union membership in Australia. Statistics and Mapping Section, Parliament of Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1819/UnionMembership#_Toc527380735
Hampton M. A. (2010). The fourth estate ideal in journalism history. In S. Allan (Ed.), The Routledge companion to news and journalism (pp. 3-12). London, UK: Routledge.
Hanitzsch, T., Van Dalen, A., & Steindl, N. (2018). Caught in the nexus: A comparative and longitudinal analysis of public trust in the press. International Journal of Press/Politics, 23(1), 3–23. https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161217740695 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161217740695
Hayes, K., & Silke, H. (2019). Narrowing the discourse? Growing precarity in freelance journalism and its effect on the construction of news discourse. Critical Discourse Studies, 16(3), 363–379. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2019.1570290 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2019.1570290
Krueger, R. A., & Casey, M. A. (2014). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research (5th Ed.). SAGE Publications.
McNair, B. (2012). Journalism and democracy: An evaluation of the political public sphere. London, UK: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203021286
Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance. (2017). MEAA submission to senate select committee on the future of public interest journalism. https://www.meaa.org/mediaroom/meaa-submission-to-the-public-interest-journalism-inquiry-170714/
Meehan, K. (2001). It’s the hard life for freelancers. Australian Journalism Review, 23(1), 99. https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/ielapa.200205148
Molloy, S., & Bromley, M. (2009). Stirred but not shaken: How the next generation is adapting to the online domain. Australian Journalism Review, 31(1), 77–90. https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/informit.728816705131728
Morgan, D. L. (2019). Conclusions: Future directions for focus groups. Basic and Advanced Focus Groups, 129–132. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781071814307.n12 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4135/9781071814307.n12
Murtha, J. (2015). What it’s like to get paid for clicks. Colombia Journalism Review. Retrieved from https://www.cjr.org/analysis/the_mission_sounds_simple_pay.php
Neilson, T. (2018). ‘I don’t engage’: Online communication and social media use among New Zealand journalists. Journalism, 19(4), 536–552. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884916667871 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884916667871
O’Donnell, P. (2017). Beyond newsrooms: Younger journalists talk about job loss and re-employment in Australian journalism. Australian Journalism Review, 39(2), 163–176. https://search.informit.org/doi/10.3316/informit.360242624341501
O’Donnell, P. (2021). Job loss and unionism in Australian journalism. In T. Marjoribanks, L. Zion, P. O’Donnell, & M. Sherwood (Eds.), Journalists and job loss (pp. 66–78). Taylor & Francis Group. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429325588-6 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429325588-6
Örnebring, H. (2018). Journalists thinking about precarity: Making sense of the “new normal.” # ISOJ Journal, 8(1), 109–127.
Park, S., Freeman, J., & Middleton, C. (2019). Intersections between connectivity and digital inclusion in rural communities. Communication Research and Practice, 5(2), 139–155. https://doi.org/10.1080/22041451.2019.1601493 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/22041451.2019.1601493
Prince, M., & Davies, M. (2001). Moderator teams: An extension to focus group methodology. Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, 4(4), 207–216. https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000005902 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000005902
Rodrigues, U. M., Niemann, M., & Paradies, Y. (2021). Representation of news related to culturally diverse population in Australian media. Journalism, 22(9), 2313–2331. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884919852884 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884919852884
Roy Morgan. (2021). Roy Morgan image of professions survey 2021. Retrieved from http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/8691-image-of-professions-2021-april-2021-202104260655
Sales, L., Iggulden, T., McKenzie, N., Cain, C., Laundy, C., McManus, S., Setka, J., Wawn, D., & Zaf, A. (2018, March 7). Two of Australia’s most powerful unions to merge: For years now union membership in Australia has been in steady decline [Video file]. 7.30. ABC. https://search-informit-org.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/doi/10.3316/tvnews.tsm201803070203
Schultz, J. (1998). Reviving the fourth estate: Democracy, accountability and the media. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511597138
Standing, G. (2016). The precariat: The new dangerous class (2nd Ed.) Bloomsbury.
Tandoc, E. C., & Thomas, R. J. (2015). The ethics of web analytics: Implications of using audience metrics in news construction. Digital Journalism, 3(2), 243-258. https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2014.909122 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2014.909122
Ward, S. J. A. (2009). Journalism ethics. In K. Wahl-Jorgensen & T. Hanitzsch (Eds.), The handbook of journalism studies (pp. 295-309). London, UK: Routledge.
Wei-ern, J. W. (2019). Aspirational well-being and digital media: Southeast Asian international students' use of digital media and their pursuit of the good life in Melbourne, Australia. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, RMIT, Melbourne, VIC. https://researchrepository.rmit.edu.au/esploro/outputs/doctoral/Aspirational-well-being-and-digital-media-Southeast-Asian-international-students-use-of-digital-media-and-their-pursuit-of-the-good-life-in-Melbourne-Australia/9921864097601341
Zion, L., Dodd, A., Sherwood, M., O’Donnell, P., Marjoribanks, T., & Ricketson, M. (2016). Working for less: The aftermath for journalists made redundant in Australia between 2012 and 2014. Communication Research and Practice, 2(2), 117–136. https://doi.org/10.1080/22041451.2016.1185924 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/22041451.2016.1185924
Copyright (c) 2022 Linda Brady
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.