Where did all of Australia’s technology journalists go? Hint: mostly into public relations

It’s often joked among the remaining technology journalists in Australia that the ratio of technology public relations (PR) professionals to journalists is wildly unbalanced, with PR professionals far outnumbering journalists.

“Public relations professionals?”, I hear some of you ask who aren’t in media circles. They’re the people who “spin” (they’d say “create”) stories about technology companies and “spam” (they’d say “pitch”) them to journalists (I’d know; I had a go at it). They’re paid to do this by those they represent.

Far from a joke though, it’s true that they do in fact outnumber reporters. The same can be said about the journalism sector more broadly versus PR.

And with journalism salaries not going far beyond $68,417 per year, a great number of specialist tech journalists have in recent times left the space for greener pastures, where they can in some cases earn six-figure salaries.

Many others are doing corporate writing or policy roles at various organisations, in tech or banking, or working at content writing production houses.

And, as some have pointed out to me on Twitter, their skills are being put to other uses as well, particularly in translating technical topics into something that internal staff can understand.

Furthermore, some have left for news sites run by companies that wouldn’t traditionally have been thought of as news publishers (think Telstra or the Australian Computer Society’s online “Information Age”, InnovationAus (backed by Espresso Communications’ Corrie McLeod), or comparison website Finder.com.au’s various sub-sites).

Journalists leaving for communications roles isn’t a unique or new thing. After rounds of redundancies began around 2010/11 in the Australian media landscape, hundreds, if not thousands, of generalist Aussie reporters have been going into communications-like roles too, either in government or the private sector.

I too left for these pastures for just over a year, only to return in September 2017. I originally left for more money, plain and simple.

Others leave because they have a family to support, or ambitions of owning a home, meaning a larger salary is required. Some just get bored of journalism or tired of “churning” articles, aka rewriting other peoples’ articles for clicks.

I returned to journalism for several reasons (I won’t bore you with them all). The main one being that I realised it was time to follow my passion again. And like an artist, unfortunately the passion doesn’t pay very well. Alas.

So as Australia’s national broadband network gets rolled out; Facebook suffers a privacy scandal; the federal government pushes forward with a plan to effectively unravel encryption; and various tech companies push crap up a hill at the Australian stock exchange, I thought it might be timely to take a look at who is left in the mainstream tech journalism space and who has recently left the space more broadly and why, in an effort to explain to those regularly asking me, ‘Where the hell have all the specialist tech reporters gone in Australia?’.

Keep in mind that when many people leave the mainstream mastheads they were previously at, they often don’t get replaced. At the smaller mastheads, they do, thankfully. But when a journalist does leave, they take with them years’ worth of Encyclopedic knowledge, thus meaning readers lose out.

They also lose out in another ways. As lawyer Leanne O’Donnell points out, there’s also been a decrease in journalists turning up to tech-related court cases.

Another trend I am starting to notice is that tech is starting to become less specialised, with general reporters or those from other rounds starting to cover it more. This coincides with mainstream news sites either combining their tech sections with the rest of their site (the ABC), combining it with science and the environment (News.com.au), or removing it from a dedicated space on the homepage (SMH/The Age). Sometimes when generalist reporters tackle tech, errors and misunderstandings about technology can come about, which is not good for anyone. The same often occurs in science reporting.

If anything, it’s really the investigative capability of the mainstream technology press that has probably suffered the most. It’s very hard for a freelancer to spend months investigating something that might turn out to be nothing, as freelancer Anthony Caruana points out.

The below list is in no way comprehensive. It covers some of the tech journalists that have gone in and out of tech journalism since ~2010 (not necessarily into “PR” roles). Some have gone on to do external or internal communications, or research-type roles. Others have had complete career changes.

(List current as at April 20, 2018, 10.30am AEST)

Corporate gigs (Public relations/internal comms/startups/research/corporate writing, other)

  • The Australian telecommunications, technology, media and aviation writer Mitchell Bingemann – Now Executive Producer at government-owned NBN Co
  • Whirlpool, APC Magaine, Australian Business Traveller reporter Dan Warne – Now Industry Manager NBN Co
  • Australian Financial Review technology reporter James Hutchinson – Now Head of Business Technology at public relations firm Sling & Stone
  • iTnews.com.au editor Allie Coyne – Now threat research and cyber influence at Telstra
  • ZDNet and Delimiter.com.au editor Renai Lemay – Now a consultant at CTO Group (IT Project Management, IT strategy advisory)
  • iTnews.com.au technology reporter Andrew Sadauskas – Now account manager at Six Degrees Investor Relations.
  • News Corp national technology reporter Rod Chester – Now Media Officer at the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation
  • Freelancer startup writer Azadeh Williams – Now Founder and Director of Azkmedia Content Marketing Agency
  • ABC Technology Editor/Editor, PC World and Good Gear Guide Nick Ross – Now Content Director + SEO, insights & analytics at Filtered Media (but also doing some freelance writing for ITWire, PC&Tech Authority and PC PowerPlay)
  • Gizmodo editor Campbell Simpson – Senior Digital Editor, Telstra
  • Senior mX newspaper Technology Editor Matt Sun – Now Media Officer at NSW Rural Fire Service
  • ZDNet reporter Tasnuva Bindi – Now corporate writing Features Editor at Momentum Media
  • Deputy Editor, PC Authority and  New Zealand PC World Editor Zara Baxter – Now Intranet Content Coordinator, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Adelaide
  • Associate Editor, CNET.com.au Zennith Geisler – Now freelance Content and Communications Specialist
  • CommsDay’s Duncan Craig – Now DC Comms
  • National Technology Writer News Maureen Shelley – Now Co-owner, The Copy Collective
  • Technology Editor, BRW Magazine Foad Fadaghi – Now Managing Director at Telsyte
  • SMH/The Age Tech reporter Mahesh Sharma – Went to Freelancer.com doing communications, freelanced (TechCrunch, Bloomberg, BBC World, Sydney Morning Herald, ZDNet Australia), now unclear.
  • Ex-Gadget Guy staff writer Scott Fitzgerald ‏ – Now Content Director at iMoveCRC and runs “a couple of my own sites on the side”
  • PC World Editor Amanda Conroy – Now PR Executive at Espresso Communications
  • Fairfax Media Technology Editor Asher Moses –  tech public relations (formerly Media & Capital Partners. Disclosure: I worked there)
  • Technology Spectator Deputy Editor Harrison Polites – tech public relations (formerly Media & Capital Partners)
  • The Australian technology reporter Fran Foo – Co-founder, tech public relations firm Kicker
  • News.com.au technology reporter Harry Tucker – Now Business Manager – New Ventures at finder.com.au/HiveEx Crypto desk
  • Former Secure Computing Editor, The Register reporter Darren Pauli – Now Senior project specialist / threat research at Telstra
  • Gizmodo editor Luke Hopewell – Manager, Cyber Outreach at Commonwealth Bank (also Twitter for a while)
  • ZDNet editor Suzanne Tindal – Now Consultant at Guerdon Associates
  • CNET reporter Craig Simms – Now Senior Technical Writer at Campaign Monitor
  • CRN editor Sholto Macpherso – Now “Cloud Accounting Technology Expert, Publisher of DigitalFirst.com, Consultant and International Speaker”
  • ZDNet security reporter Michael Lee – Now PR & Social Media Manager at Ying Communications in Singapore. Formerly APJ Communications and Evangelist Manager at computer security company RSA
  • IDG journalist Rodney Gedda – Now an analyst Telsyte
  • Tech Editor, The Australian Stuart Kennedy – Now media consultant (Read: PR) and freelance writer
  • iTnews.com.au editor Brett Winterford – Now Senior Manager, Cyber Outreach and Research at Commonwealth Bank
  • Former ZDNet journalist Aimee Chanthadavong – Went to Vodafone, now a freelance writer but also doing corporate comms writing with Espresso Communications and
  • Editor in chief iTnews.com.au, CRN, Secure Computing Nate Cochrane – Now freelancing (CRN among them) and doing some corporate writing
  • ZDNet/iTnews reporter Munir Kotadia – Now doing corporate videos for his own company
  • News.com.au technology reporter Andrew Ramadge – Now Media And Communications Manager at Melbourne Business School
  • AFR/SMH technology reporter Rose Powell – Now Head of Growth at VC firm Rampersand (also Canva for while)
  • News.com.au tech editor Chloe Lake -Now marketing as a Digital Strategist at Present Company Pty Ltd 
  • Former freelance tech reporter Jenneth Orantia – Now public relations at Media & Capital Partners
  • ZDNet’s Spandas Lui  – Text100, back to journalism at Allue Media (Gizmodo etc), then Host Systems Administrator Allianz Australia
  • IDG’s Matt Rodgers (Computerworld/CIO) – Now comms officer/technical writer for RMS.
  • Former CommsDay reporter Luke Coleman –  Now Chief Of Staff with Communications Minister Mitch Fifield
  • CommsDay Chief Editor Tim Marshall – Now at Nokia after a stint in politics with former communications minister Stephen Conroy
  • Gadget Guy reporter Leigh Stark – Now Senior Content Manager McCorkell & Associates (content and SEO) and freelancer for various publications including the AFR
  • The Gadget Guy/Seven Network Peter Blasina – No mostly out of tech due to  health issues
  • Senior Journalist at IDG’s ARN Brian Karlovsky – Now media relations at The Intermedia Group Pty Ltd
  • Computerworld and CIO’s Lisa Banks – Now Senior Media Adviser at Kicker Communications
  • Computerworld and CIO’s Chloe Herrick – Now Senior Account Manager at Adhesive PR
  • ARN’s Nermin Bajric– Now Senior Consultant at Watterson PR
  • Deputy Editor, CRN Magazine Lilia Guan – Now Branded Content Producer CBS Interactive
  • Editor, ARN (IDG Australia) Allan Swann – Senior Communications Manager at Datacom Group
  • ComputerWorld’s Tim Lohman – Now Policy Officer at Department of Justice NSW
  • CIO’s Georgina Swan – Now Communications Adviser, Group Corporate Affairs Employee Engagement at Commonwealth Bank
  • StartupSmart, Smart Company reporter Dominic Powell – Now PR and Communications manager for Livenpay
  • Online/news editor, ProPrint and Secure Computing Daniel Fitzgerald – Now Editorial Manager at FCB Health
  • ARN’s Hafizah Osman – Content marketing (Editor, Print and Digital Mahlab)
  • CNET Editorial Director Brian Corrigan – Now at Ogilvy (PR)
  • AFR’s tech and markets reporter Jessica Sier – Now Head of Content at super fund Spaceship
  • ARN’s Rob Irwin – Now Digital Officer, External Engagement Department of Planning and Environment
  • BRW’s Jeanne-Vida Douglas – Now General Manager, Content at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand
  • CRN Writer/Editor Fleur DoidgeInternational Consumer Economics writer at ING Bank
  • Tech for SMH, ZDNet, The Australian, others Nicole Manktelow – Now a Content Director at Filtered Media
  • Tech for AFR Mark Jones – Now CEO of Filtered Media
  • Women Love Tech’s Frederique Bros – Sold WLT and is now running her own digital marketing company Digistylist
  • Editor of T3, Official Windows and tech ed for GQ Damien Francis – Now Head of Event Content at Mumbrella
  • CNET Australia editor Pam Carroll – Was Editorial Manager at ehotelier, now Freelance Writer, Editor, Marketing Consultant
  • ZDNet reporter Jackie Holt – Went to Red Agency PR, now Senior Communications Specialist at SBS Australia
  • APC Tech’s Nick Race – Now Complaints Referral Specialist at TAFE NSW
  • Editor PC World Amanda Conroy – Now PR Executive at Espresso Communications
  • iTnews editor Paris Cowan– Now Policy at the federal government’s Digital Transformation Agency
  • PC & Tech Authority, APC and Atomic writer John Gilllooly – Now Technical Product Marketing Manager, Asia Pacific South at graphics card company NVIDIA
  • PC Authority’s Darren Ellis – Now Chief Navigator at CGG (working on seismic survey ships)
  • Former APC, ZDNet and freelance journo/editor Josh Melman – Now content director at Nuix
  • Michael ‘Kapowski’ Makowski – original ABC TV Good Game presenter – Now Senior Manager Business Development at Vocus
  • PCAuthority.com.au  Online Editor & Tech Journalist Daniel Long – Now “Digital Media Specialist: Video, Marketing, Writer, Community & Campaign Manager” at Independent Education Union NSW/ACT
  • Editor, PC Authority Edwin Dawson – Now technical writer at Learnosity

Some also changed their beats or went freelance

  • ABC Technology, Science and Environment reporter Jake Sturmer – Now the ABC’s North Asia correspondent
  • The Age/SMH Tech and telco reporter Lucy Battersby – Maternity leave
  • Features Editor, CNET Australia Ella Morton – Now Senior Editor, Atlas Obscura in New York
  • Editor, iTNews Charis Palmer – Now Chief Of Staff The Conversation Media Group
  • Technology reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age Louisa Hearn – Innovaiton Editor, Synthesis in the UK
  • Fairfax tech editor (plus various other roles) Stephen Hutcheon– Now Supervising Producer at Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
  • Former ZDNet reporter Liam Tung – Freelancing for ZDnet and others
  • PC Authority’s Tim Dean – Now a Freelance philosopher, science writer and public speaker
  • ARN’s Mike Gee – Now freelance
  • GameSpot’s Laura Parker – Now freelance in New York
  • GameSpot AU and GameSpot Asia Editor in Chief Randolph Ramsay – Now Editor in Chief, GameSpot in San Francisco
  • ITnews.com.au editor Sarah Falson (Haymarket Media) – Now Reporter for Hawkesbury Gazette 
  • Atomic and Kotak’s Logan Booker – Now a video game developer and weekend editor for Kotaku/Life Hacker/Gizmodo
  • Editor, ‘Australian Personal Computer’ (APC) magazine (and others) David Flynn – Now director and editor of Australian Business Traveller
  • Atomic editor Ashton Mills – Now Outreach Manager at Australian Computer Society
  • Gizmodo editor Nick Broughall – Now Tech and Telco Publisher Company finder.com.au
  • StartupSmart Editor Denham Sadler – Now freelancer at The Saturday Paper, ABC News, Domain, The Guardian, Crikey, Commercial Real Estate, Envato
  • PC Authority Editor Dave Kidd – Now Owner and Director, Screwfly Studios
  • Australian Personal Computer (APC) Editor Tony Sarno – Now Editor-in-Chief, VMO Active
  • Former CNET Editor Seamus Byrne – Now Managing Editor, ScienceAlert
  • Former CRN reporter Negar Salek – Now online news editor, AFR.com.au
  • CNET reporter Michelle Starr – Now Senior Writer, Science Alert
  • Cnet Australia resident home theatre and TV expert Ty Pendlebury – Now Senior Associate Editor at CNET.com in the US
  • PC Mag for ACP, Netguide, SMH & AFR (freelance), Bill Bennett ‏ – Now moved to NZ where he wrote for CommsDay, IDG, and now freelances for the NZ Herald as a business feature writer and NZ Business
  • CNET associate editor Derek Fung – Now freelance
  • Freelance tech reporter Paul Wallbank (The Australian, The Australian Financial Review etc) – Now News Editor at Mumbrella
  • CNET Australia reporter Lexy Savvides – Now, senior editor/host at CNET in the US
  • Kotaku associate editor Tracey Lien – Now Business Reporter at The Los Angeles Times
  • Former CNET reporter Joe Hanlon – Now Publisher at comparison website WhistleOut
  • Australian Financial Review technology reporter David Ramli – Now technology journalist at Bloomberg in China
  • CNET tech reporter Nic Healey – Now ABC North West WA breakfast show
  • Deputy Editor, BRW, Fairfax Media Caitlin Fitzsimmons– Now Editor, Money for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age at Fairfax Media
  • Group Editor of PCWorld Australia & Good Gear Guide Tony Ibrahim – Now, Daily News Editor at CHOICE
  • Fairfax technology editor Lia Timson – Now Foreign News Editor at Fairfax Media
  • Fairfax technology Editor Ben Grubb (that’s me!)– Went to public relations at Media & Capital Partners, now back in journalism for Sydney Morning Herald, TelecomTimes and others
  • Australian Financial Review technology reporter Julian Bajkowski – Went to do policy/PR for Mastercard, now a journalist at The Mandarin
  • Australian PC World’s Elias Plastiras – Now Test Coordinator at CHOICE Magazine
  • Choice TECH’s Peter Zaluzny – still at Choice but working in the CHOICE Mazagine lab
  • Regular AFR technology writer Rachel Bolton – Now a freelancer and academic
  • ZDNet technology reporter Josh Taylor – Now a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News (not tech focussed)
  • Fairfax Media technology reporter Hannah Francis – Now Arts Editor at The Age
  • Techly + TechGeek freelancer Chris Southcott – Now does UX design
  • SMH technology reporter James Manning – Now a production editor at Fairfax Media
  • SMH science and technology reporter Nicky Phillips – Now Bureau Chief, Asia-Pacific, Nature
  • News.com.au tech reporter Helen Davidson – Now Northern Territory correspondent at Guardian News & Media
  • News.com.au tech reporter Claire Connelly – Now freelancer and Lead Writer at Renegade Inc, founder of Hello Humans.
  • Sky News Tech reporter Helen Frost (also former CRN) – Now Senior Planning Producer, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
  • IDG’s Howard Dahdah – Now teaching
  • Business Insider’s Technology Editor Tony Yoo – Unclear
  • iTnews’ Liz Tay – Unclear
  • Fairfax (The Age/SMH) Garry Barker – “Podcasting for RMIT, journalism for Siemens and other engineering companies mainly in Europe.”

So who is left full-time at the traditional mainstream outlets?

The Australian

  • Technology reporter David Swan
  • Technology editor Supratim Adhikari 
  • Technology columnist Chris Griffith

SMH/The Age

  • Technology Editor Tim Biggs (Adam Turner, Peter Wells and Ben Grubb (myself) are regular non full-time contributors)
  • Columnist with a focus on tech John McDuling
  • Tech, telco, media reporter Jennifer Duke

News Corp metros

  • News Corp national technology editor Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson

News Corp’s News.com.au

  • Technology Editor Matthew Dunn
  • Technology reporter Nick Whigham

AFR

  • Technology Editor Paul Smith
  • Technology reporter Yolanda Redrup
  • Tech, telco, media reporter Max Mason
  • Entrepreneur editor Michael Bailey
  • Tech columnist John Davidson

ABC

  • Online technology reporter Ariel Bogle

Channel 7

  • Technology and Sports reporter Djuro Sen (Valens Quinn is a regular non-full time contributor

Channel 9

  • Trevor Long is a regular contributor, but not full-time
  • CyberShack’s Charlie Brown (also not employed by Channel Nine but an external production company)

Other reporters still covering tech (a work in progress)

Again, the above and below list isn’t comprehensive, just a bit of an overview. I may update it over time if readers have suggestions (leave a comment below).

  • Stephen Fenech, Channel Ten commentator (sometimes Channel Nine), was full-time at News Corp and created Tech Guide.
  • Rae Johnston, Gizmodo editor
  • Geoff Quattromani – Weekend Tech on 2GB, Talking Tech on 2HD and Tech and Lifestyle at EFTM.
  • Matt Sainsbury – Freelancer and Editor in Chief, Digitally Downloaded
  • Geoff Long, Senior editor at CommsDay and editor of Space & Satellite AU.
  • Ry Crozier, iTnews.com.au
  • Steve Duncombe, CHOICE Tech Editor
  • Angove Plumb, CHOICE
  • Daniel Van Boom, CNET
  • Juha Saarinen, iTnews.com.au
  • Justin Hendry, iTnews.com.au
  • Ben Mansill, Editor, PC & Tech Authority
  • Matt Johnston, iTnews.com.au
  • Anthony Agius, Author of The Sizzle, a daily tech email newsletter (formerly Mactalk.com.au)
  • Edward Pollitt, Australian Computer Society’s Information Age
  • Patrick Gray, Risky.biz podcast and website
  • Raj Deut, Reckoner.com.au
  • Marc Fennell, ABC’s Download This Show
  • Trevor Long, publisher and writer for ETFM
  • Alex Walker, Kotaku editor
  • Mark Serrels, Editorial Director at CNET
  • Dan Van Boom, CNET
  • James Harkness, Editor, DynamicBusiness.com.au (tech startups)
  • David Braue, Security Journalist CSO Australia
  • Royce Wilson, Freelancer,games and tech writing for News.com.au, Player2.net.au
  • Brodie Fogg, Assistant Publisher for Tech and Gaming at finder.com.au
  • Matt Sayer, tech, telco and video game news at finder.com.au
  • Krishan Sharma, Freelancer (Australian Financial Review, Finder.com.au, Canstar Blue and others). Also does corporate writing and moderating of panels/roundtables
  • Anthony Caruana, Freelancer (Gizmodo, Finder, CSO, Macworld, others)
  • Alex Kidman, Finder.com.au
  • Rob Easdown, Freelancer (The Age, SMH, others)
  • Angus Kidman,Finder.com.au
  • Beverley Head, freelancer
  • Len Rust, Freelancer
  • Eloise Keating, Editor, SmartCompany
  • Harrison Astbury, Canstar Blue (telco)
  • Andrew Colley, Freelancer (former The Australian IT)
  • Chris Duckett, ZDNet
  • Corinne Reichert, ZDNet
  • George Nott, CIO Australia and Computerworld Australia
  • Richard van der Draay, editor and publisher, Telecom Times
  • Asha McLean, ZDNet,
  • Stilgherrian, Freelance, ZDNet
  • Peter Wells, Freelance, SMH, Qantas Mag (and works at a university)
  • Gary Stark, Freelance
  • Richard Chirgwin, The Register
  • Matthew Beeche, StartupDaily Editor
  • Gina Baldassarre, StartupDaily Head of Content
  • Simon Sharwood, The Register
  • Adam Turner, Freelance, SMH and others
  • Ben Grubb (me), SMH and others
  • Alice Clark, freelancer (Games, tech and apps for the Sunday Herald Sun)
  • Rohan Pearce, Computerword
  • Petroc Wilton, CommsDay
  • Grahame Lynch, CommsDay
  • Chris Jager, Life Hacker editor
  • Jackson Ryan, Lifehacker deputy editor
  • Roulla Yiacoumi, Managing Editor, Australian Computer Society’s Information Age
  • Stan Beer, Freelancer ITWire, others
  • Peter Dinham, iTWire
  • Alex Zaharov-Reutt, iTWire
  • Tegan Jones, Deputy Editor Gizmodo
  • Stuart Corner, Freelancer, Computer World, IoT Hub, corporate writing
  • Doron Beer, Freelancer, ITWire and outbound sales representative for BMgroup and Raine & Horne Real Estate
  • Claire Reilly, CNET Australia Senior Editor
  • Jen Bisset, CNET Associate Editor
  • JasonMurray, Ausdroid
  • Daniel Tyson, Ausdroid
  • Chris Rowland, Ausdroid
  • Josh Gliddon, freelancer
  • David Hague, Australian Videocamera  and Australian Drone
  • Alex Choros, Associate Editor at comparison site WhistleOut (formerly Cybershack)
  • Steven Kiernan, CRN
  • Brendon Foye, CRN
  • Michael Jenkin, CRN
  • Brad Howarth, Freelancer (corporate gigs too)
  • Julia Talevski, ARN
  • Nadia Cameron, CMO
  • Byron Connelly, CIO’s editor in chief
  • Jennifer O’Brien, CIO/CMO
  • Leon Spencer, ARN
  • James Henderson, ARN
  • Kristofor LawsonMoonshot podcast
  • Fergus Halliday, PC World ANZ Editor at IDG Communications
  • Samira Sarraf, ARN
  • Robyn Foyster, Women Love Tech
  • Hayley Williams, Allure Media (LifeHacker/Gizmodo/Kotaku)
  • Amanda Yeo, Allure Media (LifeHacker/Gizmodo/Kotaku)
  • Jeremy ‘Junglist’ Ray, now managing editor of Fandom Australia, former contributor to Kotaku/Lifehacker/Gizmodo
  • Angharad Yeo – Good Game Spawn Point presenter
  • Nic ‘Nichboy’ Richardson – Former Good Game/Good Game: Pocket, now at Screenplay w/Channel 7
  • Mark Pesce, freelancer
  • Steven ‘Bajo’ O’Donnell, Freelancing/Twitch.tv – formerly ABC TV’s Good Game
  • Stephanie Bendixsen, Television Presenter and Video Game Critic on Seven Network’s screenPLAY
  • David Richards, channelnews.com.au

Lead photo credit: Wearable technology, photo via COM SOLUD, via Creative Commons license on Flickr.

26 Comments

  1. Sad to say, there is a salary ceiling working in journalism and when you hit ‘that’ time of life (kids, mortgage etc) staying in journalism becomes a tough proposition. I was lucky to be offered a job working with the nbn team, for a project I genuinely personally feel supportive of and committed to. I’d hate to be at a bank marketing credit card balance transfer offers or something like that. (And may I say, speaking 100% honestly, despite being a political football, nbn is an absolutely fantastic company to be working in).

  2. I loved working in journalism and it was certainly a very emotional decision to leave, but I figured the writing was on the wall and it would be easier to learn a new profession in my 40s than in my 50s. The number of friends I speak to now who say they just hope newspapers last long enough for them to retire is heartbreaking.

    Working in content, I really appreciate the diverse nature of the work and the opportunity to pick up new skills. The number of things I’ve learned how to do in the past two years has been really satisfying.

  3. Sobering list – and well done for being so thorough. Sadly (Jeez, I’ve opened a Pandora’s Box here – I only meant to add a couple more. Sorry…), you can also add Nicole Manktelow who did Tech for SMH and News Corp but is now a Content Director at Filtered Media. Also Frederique Bros sold Women Love Tech and is now running her own digital marketing company. Mark Jones (tech for AFR) is CEO of Filtered Media. Jean Vida Douglas (tech at BRW) is GM for Content at Chartered Accountants Australia. Damien Francis (various tech/gaming/other titles) is Head of Event Content at Mumbrella. Nick Race (APC Tech) is now Complaints Referral Specialist at TAFE NSW. Nadia Cameron ARN – Publisher and Editor of CMO. Amanda Conroy, Editor PC World is PR Executive at Espresso Communications. Pam Carroll CNET Editor is now Editorial Manager at ehotelier. Tim Dean moved from PC Authority to be a Freelance philosopher, science writer and public speaker. Logan Booker (Atomic and Kotaku) became a successful game dev, Ashton Mills (Editor Atomic) became Outreach Manager at Australian Computer Society, Dave Kidd Editor PC Authority is Owner and Director, Screwfly Studios, Tony Sarno APC Editor is Editor-in-Chief, VMO Active, Darren Ellis PC Authority works on Seismic survey ships now(!), John Gilllooly PC Authority, APC and Atomic is now Technical Product Marketing Manager, Asia Pacific South at NVIDIA. I’ll stop now. Ugh. But hey, I’m back doing some writing for ITWire, PC&Tech Authority and PC PowerPlay.

  4. Having been out of journalism for a while, I’ve been wondering if this is just a generational change — i.e. is there a new generation of journos that have replaced the “2000s” journos? It’d be sad to think tech reporting in Australia had simply shrunk dramatically and most content was syndicated from O/S sources.

    • Dan, that’s a very good point for contemplation, and indeed, is there even entry mechanism for wanna-be journos these days? You’d think it was DIY web-based, the way you entered via your fantastic work on Whirlpool and also how Ben Grubb himself started with his very sharp blog, but I don’t even see much of that anymore. Maybe there just isn’t that flow of new blood, not at least in the way we think of it (could be more of just posting on forums and tech geek sites)?

  5. Great article Ben and very well researched. As I read through the list I feel privileged that I have worked with so many of the people throughout my career and many remain friends. Flacks and hacks alike. I have seen many journalists successfully transition to corporate roles. And some, who find out it is not for them, but they get clarity and a renewed lease of life as they return to follow their journalistic passion.

    One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was a young whipper-snapper was that ‘no-one looks after your career but yourself – however don’t be too Machiavellian or too mercantile – and try to find meaning where it matters.’ To this I would only add now that you need to be ready for constant change and always open to reskilling.

    I remember spruiking to many people in your article a thing called WAP. ‘Imagine one day in the future you are going to have the internet and TV on your phone’. That future has now well and truly arrived and it has brought with it significant change to the careers both of the spin-doctors and the tech-journos. We have all had to adapt.

    What I do know is that the world still needs are good communicators. It is a skill which isn’t going to go out of fashion, it is just going to be in different places, on different channels via different devices. I hope that everyone finds the place that is right for them.

  6. I’m happy to still be in journalism, but that was *only* possible by designing my own path and launching a business travel website (Australian Business Traveller) which is now eight years on and still going strong, with two full-time journalists and a third soon to be hired. If I hadn’t made that move I honestly don’t know what I’d have done, probably hung on and scraped by until there was another uptick in the freelance scene (which did happen) but it would have been hard yakka indeed.

    What I noticed about the late-2000s crunch, which led me to launch AusBT in 2010, was that in the decades I’d been a tech journo the industry seemed to move in cycles: there’d sometimes be a bit of an uptick in staff with a winding back in contrib budget, then the staff headcount would be reduced and the freelance gates opened up again. But around the late-2000s both appeared to happen simultaneously: staffing was cut *and* contrib budget was cut. That was my sign to bail out and paddle my own canoe!

  7. Just to clarify – InnovationAus.com is not ‘funded by a PR firm. It is a separate company, separate P&L, six FTE staff and seven contributors. While it got its launch budget via other companies in the group, (ie it was bootstrapped) it’s a pretty traditional publication with very traditional journalism. I’m very proud to be the publisher of a successful new masthead that has been able to provide journalism roles in a market that is clearly very tough. I can’t make it any clearer that InnovationAus.com revenue is not reliant on a PR company, or its clients – it generates its own revenue, and has its own clients and BD function.

      • Ok – will clarify. I funded InnovationAus.com. I own Espresso Communications. I chose to take what would otherwise have been income (ie profit) and invested it in a new business venture. InnovationAus.com now generates its own income and has created jobs in journalism, which I think is of a high standard – and so do our readers. This is a good thing.

      • Just noticed the updates in your piece Ben, and they are appreciated. It’s possible that I may be a just ‘little’ bit defensive on the matter. The ‘owned by a PR agency’ phrase has been used to suggest that IA is ‘polluted’ being in the same tent as a comms company. This never comes from readers or clients – but usually journalists frustrated by the dynamics of the sector. SO – appreciate your taking the time to update and clarify. I really do believe that traditional revenue models for publishing are for the most part dead (display and paywall) and that there are players looking laterally at how to foster independent reporting, and they are really important.

  8. Nice work Ben. A fascinating roll call! I actually feel pretty old skool on this list, having started Filtered Media as a freelance vehicle 11 years ago when I left the AFR.
    Another story angle worth mentioning to help explain the shift during the past decade is I’ve witnessed marketing budgets continue to focus on content-driven SEO, social, PR and influencer marketing. The whole notion of brand storytelling isn’t just a fad – there’s a business case that’s reflected in these employment stats.
    Also worth unpacking — the switch from FTE to freelancing could be seen as the rise of micro media companies, as pioneered by Pete Blasina. Tapping into Dan’s point about salaries and speaking personally, freelancing does offer the potential for a better work/life balance when you’ve got a family.

  9. Oh wow. That was sobering. I feel like I’ve just read the obituaries after a major event.

    Thanks for the article Ben, I’d wondered where a lot of those names had gone and now I know.

  10. Can’t say I ever worked on Atomic but I was editor of T3, Official Windows and tech ed for GQ.

    Detailed write up, Ben, which I see we’ve republished. Well done.

  11. Nice work Ben. Technology news impacts society profoundly and it’s a pity when we see stories mangled by writers without the background to explain or ask the right questions. I’ve made a good living as a software developer and have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to commentate over the years. I’d be terrified to have to support the family as a journalist in recent years.

  12. Although I am listed as a technology freelancer, most of my work is corporate these days. You’ve gotta follow the money. I’m thankful to people like Mark Jones at Filtered, Corrie at Espresso and Michael Henderson at DEC for employing me.

  13. I love being a journalist and I’ve never regretted staying in the game! It continues to be exciting and challenging and I’m also reasonably well paid for what I do.

    My first foray into technology journalism was ARN in 1999, then australianIT.com.au and The Australian. But I did general news before and after, so ‘tech journalist’ was never my main identity. It’s funny though that whenever I try other beats, they converge back to tech. I became a media reporter – it converged with tech. I started writing about entrepreneurs for BRW – most of them were tech start-ups. I’m now Money editor and hey, the fintech revolution is upon us! So everything I did in tech journalism has been worthwhile in my broader journalism career!

  14. To be fair I count about 120 working tech journalists on this list. That’s for a country of 25m people. It’s not terrible, especially given the business model for tech media is extremely challenged. It would be interesting to see similar lists for other verticals such as business, stock market, aviation etc etc

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