ASK US WEDNESDAY: “What skills do I need in the current market?”

by Leo Wiles
03 April 2019

Hi Rach and Leo. My children are finally grown to the point where the youngest is about to go to prep and I am realising the world of journalism that I used to know so well now has a different landscape.  I know you’ve written a lot about updating your skills in the past and wondered what your thoughts were about what areas I might need to look into as I am seriously feeling behind the 8 ball. Many thanks, Anita

Hi Anita, thank you for your query. It’s been a while since I hit the books for my own media and comms qualifications! So, I reached out to Dr Claire Konkes, Acting Head of Media and Lecturer in Media at University of Tasmania, to talk about the kind of skills you need these days.

Claire, whose illustrious journalism career includes titles as The Australian, The Mercury and The Monthly, kindly answered some questions for me:

LEO: What core skills do media and communication professionals need in the current market? 

Claire: Journalists, content producers and other communication professionals need to:

  • Identify the story – the hook, the message, the most salient points
  • Have strong research skills, especially the ability to identify and select the right information from the right sources
  • Produce clear professional communications and succinct copy
  • Be able to quickly produce, edit and transfer photographs, video and audio recordings of speeches, a press conference an interview etc. their smartphones – communications people also need to be able share digital files and upload to social media appropriately

What’s been the most surprising change in your time in either media comms on the ground or as an educator?

I have been teaching for about eight years and in that time I have seen the skills required for Journalism, Media and Communication (to define it as a discipline) merge – a few of our graduates might go straight to the ABC and stay there for a long time, but a lot more will move between digital content production, comms and journalism.  As someone who will defend quality journalism to the end, the media landscape is a lot more diverse than the neat journo/PR divide of ten years ago.

Where do you think media will be in the future, and what do people working in it need to be across?

Audiences: As the Thai say, media will be ‘Same, same, but different’. Audiences are fragmented, but the job of any communicator will be to identify their audience and sometimes it will be quite global in reach and other times it will be quite local.

Technical: the skills I mention above which is technical digital skills plus some understanding of the strategy it requires.

Perspective: In the past, journalists and others could get away with a fairly myopic understanding of their industry. Increasingly, some understanding of how various media industries work, including business models, how data is collected, is likely to be essential rather than just useful.

Do you agree with Claire or are there other skills you think you need to make a full time wage these days?

4 responses on "ASK US WEDNESDAY: “What skills do I need in the current market?”"

  1. Madonna Deverson says:

    An understanding of how to package up stories for different audiences to create revenue streams may be useful eg. podcasts, interactive storytelling, microsites, databases

    Having a specialism is other advice from US – good insurance on top of general knowledge eg. Louise Milligan/Cardinal Pell, Maggie Haberman/Donald Trump. Can be anything that sets you apart as the expert if ever a story breaks (kinda like Hard Quiz?)

  2. Sharon Smith says:

    Many journalists these days will be loading their own work into the content management systems or CMS, so the ability to work with those (or pick it up quickly) is a must. So too is a basic knowledge of SEO and other digital skills like sourcing quality stock images, building EDMs in Mailchimp and organising content on a website. has some great short courses if you need a refresher on these skills, and the Poynter website offers articles, webinars and other resources for US-oriented training.

  3. Leo Wiles says:

    Great one Madonna. I often find I need to record audio, video, take photos oh and do a write-up! Even if the client doesn’t use them all then and there there’s been the odd follow-up call where they’ll check to see if I happened to have…

  4. Leo Wiles says:

    Thanks for the tip Sharon. Certainly Lynda has been a lifesaver in the past when I have had to learn a client’s software editing package toot de suite.

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