I recently started working at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Engineering faculty in a professional IT services role. I’m excited to work at UNSW where I’m in charge of technology support for the Tyree Energy Technologies Building (solar photovoltaics, clean fuels, smart grids, energy storage, energy economics etc) and helping take photos at faculty events such as the launch of the new Sunswift UNSW racing team solar car.
In the July issue of The Monthly Eric Beecher asked Where is the journalism we need going to come from now?
He pointed out that Marshall McLuhan predicted:
“the classified ads (and stock-market quotations) are the bedrock of the press … should an alternative source of easy access to such diverse daily information be found, the press will fold.”
I loved being a technology writer covering interesting stories, getting to meet fascinating people and travelling around the world. I’d been earning a good living writing for a wide variety of technology news publications during the last few years, been one of Australia’s more successful professional bloggers and was a Finalist for Best Business Technology Journalist at the recent Microsoft IT Journalism Awards.
However looking at the industry in the cold hard light of day digital journalism earns a business a few cents in revenue where the same journalism in print 10-20 years ago would have earnt a dollar. This directly translates to far fewer jobs and smaller freelance budgets. This will get worse in the near to mid term, not better
Payments for business technology articles have stagnated at 50-60c/word for many years, losing purchasing power in real terms for paying transport, heating, insurance and other costs a freelancer has to cover. Some publications pay even less and are sourcing an increasing proportion of their articles from vendors or academics who write for free to improve their reputation.
This being the case is it any surprise that many journalists are choosing the best of both worlds? I look forward to helping researchers at UNSW working on cutting edge energy and technology projects and writing in my spare time about technology topics that I’m passionate about.
I’ll still continue writing freelance business technology analysis stories and reviewing mobility gadgets such as smartphones, tablets and laptops in my spare time outside of work hours for publications such as Business Spectator, iTnews, ABC and the Guardian UK.