La Trobe
AAM_84972_Sherwood,M_2018.pdf (224.97 kB)

Once a journalist, always a journalist? Industry restructure, job loss and professional identity

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-10-28, 05:11 authored by Merryn SherwoodMerryn Sherwood, Penny O'Donnell
The traditional model of journalism in western societies, dominated by legacy media outlets such as newspapers and television, has undergone fundamental change in the twenty-first century. One consequence has been significant job losses within these newsrooms. As journalists negotiate new employment post-job loss in Australia, this paper asks, how has this impacted on their professional identity? Drawing on varying conceptualisations of professional identity as a set of values and as a set of work practices, this paper presents data from a survey of 225 journalists who had been laid off between 2012 and 2014 in Australia, to explore whether and how journalists’ professional identity changed after redundancy. The results indicated that professional identity was likely to fade post-job loss, which indicates that identity may be more closely linked to a journalism work context. In addition, the paper found that the loss of institutional legitimacy may also be affecting the respondents’ current journalism practice. Conversely, not all participants who noted their identity was intact still worked as journalists or in journalism. This research has implications for the changing media workforce, as it indicates that notions of journalistic professional identity are still contested and complicated.


New Beats: mass redundancies, career changes and the future of Australian journalism

Australian Research Council

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  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences

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Journalism Studies








Taylor & Francis



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