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Study Journalism

Journalism Education - Australia

By John Henningham, Director, Jschool: Journalism Education & Training

Journalism is a thriving occupation in Australia, with major commercial and public media organisations publishing print and broadcast media throughout the country.  Print media include two national daily newspapers (The Australian and the Australian Financial Review), 10 metropolitan dailies (including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, the Herald Sun, the Daily Telegraph and the Courier-Mail) in the state and territory capital cities, almost 50 regional dailies and hundreds of non-daily newspapers in regional areas and in metropolitan suburbs, plus  mass circulation magazines and hundreds of specialist magazines.

Three major commercial television networks (Seven, Nine and Ten) share spectrum space with regional networks and with two public corporations (the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Special Broadcasting Service), together with cable and satellite pay-TV (dominated by Foxtel). Radio stations thrive in metropolitan and regional areas, most linked to private chains or part of the ABC, which also broadcasts internationally through Radio Australia and Asia Pacific television.

Internet has penetrated widely, with 70 percent of Australians having internet access: as in other countries the net has become a medium of news dissemination by existing print and broadcast publishers as well as thousands of special interest publishers, in addition to bloggers and other individuals.

There is also a thriving market in non-English language mass communication, with newspapers, radio, TV and internet publications in dozens of languages spoken by the range of immigrants to Australia from non-English-speaking backgrounds.

There are about 6000 journalists working full-time for mainstream news publications, with thousands more working for specialist publications, magazines and the internet as well as in freelance journalism.

Australian journalism has benefited from and contributed to mass media and journalism internationally.  Global media billionaire Rupert Murdoch is from Australia (and controls two-thirds of Australia's major newspapers as well as pay-TV), while Australians have been appointed editors of leading British and U.S. newspapers including The Times and the New York Post.

Until the 1970s most training in journalism was provided by the industry through on-the-job cadetships, but today most journalism recruits are graduates of the two dozen public and private journalism schools operating across the country. Recruits must still normally complete a one-year cadetship before becoming a graded, or J1, journalist.  Major industry groups have recently reintroduced in-service training programs and some newspapers are active in recruiting graduates of other disciplines, such as business, law, economics or health sciences.

Each state capital has at least one journalism course, while some have several. University journalism "schools" are administratively sub-sets of broader communication or media studies departments, rather than independent journalism departments as in some countries.  Existing university journalism courses in metropolitan areas are taught in:

Adelaide:   University of South Australia

Brisbane: Griffith University; Queensland University of Technology; University of Queensland

Canberra: University of Canberra

Hobart: University of Tasmania

Melbourne:   Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Perth: Curtin University; Edith Cowan University; Murdoch University

Sydney: University of Technology Sydney; University of Western Sydney.

Nationally-accredited private journalism colleges in Australia, offering one-year diplomas, are:

Brisbane:   Jschool: Journalism Education & Training

Sydney: Macleay College.

Regional universities which teach journalism are:

New South Wales:   Charles Sturt University (Bathurst); Newcastle University; Southern Cross University (Lismore); University of Wollongong

Queensland: Bond University (Gold Coast private university); James Cook University (Townsville); University of Central Queensland (Rockhampton); University of Southern Queensland (Toowoomba); University of the Sunshine Coast (Sippy Downs).

Victoria: Deakin University (Geelong -- also has a Melbourne campus); Monash University (Gippsland campus)

The universities offer three-year degree courses in journalism either as

Bachelor of Journalism or Bachelor of Arts degrees. Some offer

fourth-year honours coures and most also offer postgraduate diplomas,

masters degrees and research-based PhDs.  Courses are a mixture of

theory and practice and generally include studies of print, broadcast

and online journalism at introductory to advanced levels, together with

studies of law, ethics, media history and media theory. Several courses

include newspapers, radio or online news services, giving students

valuable practical experience. Students in undergraduate degrees also

choose subjects from a range of other disciplines in the humanities and

social sciences, or other teaching areas offered as electives.

Graduate satisfaction with courses varies: colleges in both metropolitan

and regional areas have been successful in winning top ratings from

journalism students, based on annual surveys of graduates. (See: Sally

Jackson, "What makes a good school of journalism", The Australian

newspaper, 21 September 2006: http: //

The courses between them enrol many thousands of students, including a

growing number of students from dozens of countries around the world. A

well-above average ability at spoken and written English is necessary in

addition to academic prerequisites. Graduates of Australian courses have

been highly successful in gaining employment, although the large

enrolments in this field result in the majority not gaining full-time

journalism work in Australia. Indeed, there are many more journalism

students than full-time journalists in Australia. However the courses

prepare students for a range of careers for which good communication and

research skills are useful. Two private institutions set up by former

university journalism teachers, Macleay College in Sydney and Jschool in

Brisbane, offer one-year diploma of journalism courses aimed at

vocational outcomes. These courses attract undergraduate and

postgraduate students and have proven highly successful in placing

graduates in journalism jobs.

Most journalism educators are members of the Journalism Education

Association (http: //, which organises an annual

conference as well as publishing journals to promote teaching and

research in journalism, including "Australian Journalism Review",

"Australian Studies in Journalism" and "Australian Journalism

Monographs". Journalism teachers from New Zealand, East Asia and Pacific

islands also belong to JEA.