New technology, industry restructuring and jobs cuts are changing the conditions for journalistic work around the world and disrupting journalism’s claim to control the field of news work. In this presentation, Dr Penny O’Donnell (University of Sydney) critically examines the relationship between job loss and identity crisis, asking what happens to professional identity after redundancy, particularly to those who consider themselves ‘journalists at heart’? The analysis draws on the results of a national survey of 225 journalists laid-off from Australian newsrooms between 2012 and 2014. It argues attention to the twin experiences of job loss and job seeking offer a productive vantage point on this dynamic relationship because it prompts journalists to reconsider the nature of their expertise in achanging labour market, while at the same time reminding researchers to rethink traditional claims about ‘professional identity’to account for contemporary journalism’s more complex definitions, sites and populations engaged in news work.
Dr Penny O’Donnell is Senior Lecturer in International Media and Journalism at the University of Sydney. She is a Chief Investigator on the New Beats Project, responsible for industry liaison with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), and engaged in the internationalization of the project through collaborations with Canadian, German and Indonesian researchers. Recent publications appear in Journalism, Journalism Practice, Ethical Space, Australian Journalism Review and African Communication Research.