Papering over the cracks

James Porteous

The news that Daily Record and Sunday Mail workers are taking further strike action, in response to the threat to jobs at the newspapers, is a worrying continuation of a more prolonged employment issue in the media.

With recent circulation figures suggesting that fewer papers than ever are being sold in Scotland, and job cuts worldwide in many sections of the press, it certainly feels like a bleak time to be pursuing a career anywhere within the media.

Whilst this issue is felt hardest at publications and organisations where people are working for a living, it is also felt at student publications like ours, where the financial downturn has had a serious affect on the newspaper and its staff.

As many of Guardian’s staff join the paper as a starting point to go on to work in the mainstream press in one manner or another, constant news of strikes, redundancies and cost-cutting makes it feels very much like a door is closing on the accessibility of the press as a career path – a major issue at a time when graduate recruitment is at such a low level across the board.

This trickle-down effect could perceivably see a reduction in the participation in student media, should the situation not improve, which could subsequently impact on the quality of future quality in the mainstream media itself.

At present, it is difficult to see how the industry can haul itself back to past levels of prosperity – all publications, be they staffed by employees or volunteers, must work out how to embrace new media, and idea which seems remarkably difficult for print publications to master in a purposeful manner, given their reliance on traditional advertising.

The key question is how can newspapers make money out of online content, a medium people expect, from experience, to be free?

Whatever the solution, student journalists across the world can only hope that their potential employers can at least begin to resolve the current climate of employment turmoil, before the time comes to leave university.


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