Equipped for the digital revolution

Significant changes have moulded the industry and how to embrace new platforms.

By Phoebe Le Page

Forty years ago, a broadcast segment would be pre-shot on film with a cameraman and sound recordist, cut and spliced together, then sent off by plane destined for the broadcast centre. Blink and it’s 2019.

More than five billion people own a mobile phone, almost three million have a social media account, and staying up-to-date is made easy through digital news platforms and live broadcasts. The convenience and accessibility of innovative technology continue to change the media landscape.

Gracing the television screens of Australia since 1989, award-winning journalist, weekend 7NEWS presenter and philanthropist Kay McGrath OAM has been working in the media industry for more than 40 years.

“When I began, the news cycle basically stopped with the 6pm news and began again the next morning,” McGrath says. “There was a lot more time available to journalists, with far more resources and more research able to be done, but also many stories skipped under the radar and remained untold. Stories were easier to bury back then and there were gatekeepers before social media started, but it’s very hard to bury a story now.”

The advent of the digital revolution has created many challenges, yet exciting opportunities.

Women in Media Queensland committee member Kay McGrath.

“For the industry itself, I think the biggest challenge is to remain relevant but at the same time be authentic, honest and true,” McGrath says.

“One thing that really warms my heart and pleases me is seeing today the level of collaboration, cooperation and connection in the industry. I guess that’s because we are all facing the same pressures and the same threat to survive, so it’s a good thing to come together because there is power in numbers.”

McGrath’s work has allowed her to be a voice for many and she has volunteered many hours to help those experiencing family or domestic violence as well as being an advocate for child protection organisations, including the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.

McGrath says her best advice to any aspiring media personnel is to be ambitious. “Use your ambition wisely by surrounding yourself with good people, believing in and backing yourself, finding your voice and not being afraid to use it, but in a respectful and thoughtful way,” she says.

In the past decade, the print media has experienced the challenges of a significantly changing environment, but media trailblazer and first female editor of the metropolitan masthead Brisbane Times Danielle Cronin is leading the way for the future of digital journalism.

Women in Media board member and Women in Media Queensland committee member Danielle Cronin.

Launched in 2007, the Brisbane Times has become a platform where the people of Brisbane, surrounding areas and Australia can be informed.

“I am a fan of all forms of media and believe it is critical for our community to see all different types of platforms thriving. The thing I really love about digital is the ability to use all the best elements of storytelling from print, radio and television, [which] can all be brought together on the one platform,” Cronin says.

“I appreciate the freedom that the story dictates how you tell it rather than the confines of a particular platform. When you’re putting stories out onto the internet there is a temptation to be shouty to try and stand out but I think one of the challenges is to always remember that you don’t have to shout. You just have to do good journalism and people will read it.”

For those striving for a career in this fast-paced, ever-growing and exciting industry, Cronin says a great reputation is the most valuable asset.

“It takes a lot of hard work to develop it and even harder work to retain it, but having a great reputation opens doors to you and most importantly, makes your community trust you,” Cronin says.

“Be observant, be curious, be tenacious and really listen to people.

“If you can walk out onto the street now and find five stories, then you know the journalism is for you.”

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