Pacific Media Centre Pacific Media Watch Pacific Journalism Review Pacific Scoop

A comparison of teenage views on journalism as a career in Australia and New Zealand

Volume 15, Issue 2

October, 2009

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Author(s): Mark Pearson

Australian and New Zealand journalism programmes report a disproportionate number of female students and the industry in both countries is becoming increasingly feminised. Densem (2006) explored the reasons for the popularity of journalism as a career among young New Zealand women and the relative lack of appeal for young men. This article reports upon preliminary results from an Australian study covering some common ground and offers some comparisons and contrasts with the New Zealand findings. This article uses the high school student responses from a larger study as the basis of comparison with similar data in the Densem (2006) study. Key similarities are that young respondents in both countries did not see journalism as a ‘blokey’ career; many showed ignorance about journalism salaries; and they perceived both male and female journalists as intelligent and serious. Students in both countries perceived good looks as a more important quality for female journalists than males. There were, however, marked differences in the responses of high school males in Australia to the perceptions of the qualities of female journalists. Rather than the intelligence, credibility and seriousness they assigned to male journalists (and their New Zealand male counterparts also assigned to female journalists), the young Australian males ranked good looks, pushiness and nosiness as the chief qualities assigned to female journalists, a disturbing finding worthy of more investigation.