Critical Reflection: Quest Community Newspapers

My internship at News Corp, and specifically Quest Community Newspapers, was a very illuminating experience. The two weeks I spent with Quest at Bowen Hills was, I feel, a good primer for real world journalism – particularly as a young journalist. I also feel that the various courses I have taken at university and my editorial job at Fishing Monthly Magazines, who I’ve been with for just over five year, has set me up for working in a newsroom. While I am grateful for the experience, I don’t think working for a big corporation in a place as large at the News Corp building at Bowen Hills is for me.

 

Quest Community Newspapers operate in the News Corp building at Bowen Hills, along with the The Courier Mail, The Australian, and The Sunday Mail. The building has two stories, and Quest is on the lower floor. My expectation of desks, computers and quiet chatter almost as far as the eye could see was brought to fruition on the first day. To see that much journalism under one roof was interesting to me, because for the last five years I have had people telling me that the profession is in demise. Higgins-Dobney & Sussman (2013) argue when discrete news production professionals and functions have been radically integrated, resulting in multitasked news staff forced to provide fast-turnaround for multiple platforms, investigative reporting, the quality of news production, and the utility of local news for the community is weakened. Despite this idea, News Corp seems to have quality journalism working to regular deadlines, and are keeping up a good expectation for the quality of work. With the integration of online content to their output, they have been able to cater to an audience that prefers to consume news digitally. Deuze & Bardoel (2001) seemed to foresee the effect the Internet would have on the future of journalism when they asserted that the Internet was changing the profession. They argued that the profession was changing in three ways. Firstly, that the internet has the potential to make the journalist as an intermediary force in democracy superfluous (Bardoel, 1996). Secondly, it offers the media professional a vast array of resources and sheer endless technological possibilities to work with (Quinn, 1998; Pavlik, 1999). Finally, it creates its own type of journalism (Singer, 1998; Deuze, 1999). These ideas are certainly true, and were reinforced to me throughout my internship with Quest.

My experience working for a fishing magazine has been that editorial, design and sales are separate departments, however, there is constant communication between them. At Quest, editorial and design are amalgamated, where journalists create content for the publications, and editors, all of whom are also journalists, lay the paper out as they sub-edit the material. As for the sales department and editorial, there is little, if any communication between the two.

In the process of putting together a story, I discovered the importance of being able to adapt to the situation. In a university environment, I have been able to work to very distant deadlines with one story idea in mind that seldom changes. At Quest, I found that quite often, story ideas fall through because of a lack of material or interview talents available, and the story focus has to be modified, or scrapped completely. Even when I did organise interviews, I found it very frustrating relying on people to get back to me. At one point, I was working on four stories at once. I was waiting for talents from these four stories to get back to me, and then around lunch time they all did, and I was all of a sudden completely snowed under with work, having done nothing but wait for the past two hours.

In finding story ideas to begin with, I noticed that because I didn’t have the contacts that the other journalists did – with them having worked at Quest for some years – I found it harder than they did to find stories. However, with some preliminary material, such as contact numbers, press releases or a link to a useful website, I was able to get started and find my own stories. As I went, I also saw the benefit of saving the contacts I made, should I need them later in my career.

 

Overall, I am grateful for the experience I gained while working at Quest Community Newspapers, however having had the experience, I don’t think I would be comfortable working in a large office building for a big corporation. Ideally, moving forward I would like to take steps toward other forms of media, such as radio, and also explore the feasibility of working as a freelance journalist.

 

 

References:

Bardoel, J & M, Deuz, 2001. Network Journalism: Converging Competences of Media Professionals and Professionalism. Australian Journalism Review, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 91-103.

Bardoel, J.L.H. (1996) `Beyond Journalism: A Profession between Information Society and Civil Society’, European Journal of Communication 11: 283-302.

Deuze, M, 1999. Journalism and the Web: an analysis of skills and standards in an online environment. Gazette 61, No. 5, pp. 373-390

Higgins-Dobney, CL & G, Sussman, 2013. The growth of TV news, the demise of the journalism profession. Media, Culture & Society, Vol 35, No. 7

Pavlik, J. (1999). New media and news: implications for the future of journalism, New Media & Society, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 54-59

Quinn, S, 1998. Newsgathering and the Internet. In: Breen, M. (red.). Journalism: theory and practice. Paddington: Macleay Press: pp. 239-255

Singer, J, 1998. Online Journalists: Foundations for Research Into Their Changing Roles, The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Vol. 4, No. 1

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