Layoffs, inequity and COVID-19: A longitudinal study of the journalism jobs crisis in Australia from 2012 to 2020

Nikolas Dawson, Sacha Molitorisz, Marian Andrei Rizoiu, Peter Fray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In Australia and beyond, journalism is reportedly an industry in crisis, a crisis exacerbated by COVID-19. However, the evidence revealing the crisis is often anecdotal or limited in scope. In this unprecedented longitudinal research, we draw on data from the Australian journalism jobs market from January 2012 until March 2020. Using Data Science and Machine Learning techniques, we analyse two distinct data sets: job advertisements (ads) data comprising 3698 journalist job ads from a corpus of over 8 million Australian job ads; and official employment data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Having matched and analysed both sources, we address both the demand for and supply of journalists in Australia over this critical period. The data show that the crisis is real, but there are also surprises. Counter-intuitively, the number of journalism job ads in Australia rose from 2012 until 2016, before falling into decline. Less surprisingly, for the entire period studied the figures reveal extreme volatility, characterised by large and erratic fluctuations. The data also clearly show that COVID-19 has significantly worsened the crisis. We then tease out more granular findings, including: that there are now more women than men journalists in Australia, but that gender inequity is worsening, with women journalists getting younger and worse-paid just as men journalists are, on average, getting older and better-paid; that, despite the crisis besetting the industry, the demand for journalism skills has increased; and that, perhaps concerningly, the skills sought by journalism job ads increasingly include ‘social media’ and ‘generalist communications’ skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-559
Number of pages29
Issue number3
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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