Life On The Job

Journalist/Newspaper Editor  - Geoff

Description of Job

In my particular job, I write the articles, take the photographs and tackle the desktop publishing of the newspapers. Usually, in larger newspapers, there are separate people to undertake each of these tasks. A journalist would normally just write articles for the publication, or sub-edit the articles written by other people.

A typical day involves interviewing people about their activities, or asking them questions about their opinions on particular topical issues. The most interesting feature is the opportunity to talk to people from all over Australia and, often, from other parts of the world.



It's difficult to remember when I first decided I wanted to be a journalist. My father was production manager of the two local daily newspapers in the city in which we lived. My uncle worked there, too. My eldest brother became a reporter when I was about 6 and we lived for some years in an apartment on the top floor of the same building the newspapers were produced in. So, there was probably a good chance I would do something in newspapers.

Interestingly, my other brother didn't. I grew up reading newspapers. My mother told me I started to read them when I was four and always loved newspapers, any kind, from anywhere, more than practically any other type of reading.

When I have travelled overseas I always looked out for the local English-speaking newspaper. I had fleeting moments thinking about a career in teaching, but never very seriously. I expected to become a journalist. My parents never put any pressure on me to do so that I can remember.


Because of my experiences detailed in the previous question, the door was opened somewhat easily to a career in newspapers.

In those days (1969), jobs were not difficult to gain and I had the inside running anyway I suppose.

Although I was never a brilliant English student, I enjoyed language and I had a wonderful man (a Marist Brother) as English (and cricket) teacher at one stage. He would have been very encouraging to me personally when I talked about careers. I was fortunate, too, that when I started in newspapers the night editor of the morning newspaper I worked for took something of a shine to me. He was a man with a fearsome reputation, but he, for some reason, treated me as a son. The first day I met him, he asked if I was serious about being a journalist. I told him I was, and he never doubted that. Perhaps he met others who weren't so serious!

What's New


I talked above about an English teacher who treated me like an adult in a world (a Marist Brothers college) where it was possible to be treated by teachers and other male students as unimportant, or a fool, or inadequate in some way. Actually I have always been better at numbers than probably anything else! The ability to be quick on my feet with figures has often been very handy in my career.


My training was done very much on the job.

I left school one day and started at the newspaper the next.

I had no university training. I did notice after a year or so that some people were earning more than me who had less experience but had a university degree under their belt. That didn't please me and I was able to say so. I am glad to say my employers recognised that I had some talent and did their best to pay me accordingly. (University degrees in those days in the country in which I lived - South Africa - were considerably less common than they are nowadays).

Training then involved a three-year cadetship.

Truth was, however, that if you were keen and showed some aptitude for the job you got senior reporter's assignments regardless of your experience. The most senior reporter's job in an office of a couple of dozen reporter's was covering the city council "round". I was doing that as a second-year cadet journalist.

Today, the emphasis is very much more on university degrees for journalists - not only in media or communications, but also in specialised fields, such as law.

I still believe young people who are able to get a job on a newspaper in a country town would do a lot for their job prospects and their career if they just took it and worked hard - starting at the bottom. Hands-on experience is still a much valued part of newspaper life.



Was my first pay important? What a question! I was amazed at the size of it. Things I had taken months to save for from pocket money were suddenly available on the spot overnight. In fact, it went a great deal further in those days than the much larger pay packet goes today with three children and a wife to get their fair share.

As I get towards 50 I think a whole lot more about retirement. I'm in the same state as many Australians - I don't think I am well enough prepared financially. I try not to concentrate on seeking more and more of the almighty dollar, because I believe there are a whole lot more things in life than that. I need to make better use of the dollars I already earn. I'd say most of us are in that situation. I keep telling my 19-year-old son that he will never earn as much money as he wants; we never do. We have to draw the line somewhere between work and lifestyle.

I work on my own producing two monthly newspapers which I write, take the photos for, sell advertising and desk-top publish. My typical day is a mixture of bashing away on a keyboard and interviewing people either on the telephone or in person. So my work includes lots of people in one way.

The outcome of my work is very obvious to others - the newspapers I produce for the Catholic and Anglican Churches in Canberra - and I find many people are interested in what I do, even if they are not practicing Catholics or Anglicans. People are really interested in religion, in spiritual things. Many are quite ignorant of what the mainstream churches are doing nowadays.

The Catholic Voice

Catholic Voice


I try to keep abreast as best I can of development in desktop publishing, and in other areas such as digital cameras, the internet etc, because all these impinge on my working day.

The more I am able to keep up with new developments, the more chance I have to decide whether I need to use some of them. I don't buy new computer software, or updates, for example, just because they are new, however. I have to sell enough advertising to keep my newspapers going, so I need to be careful about the dollars coming in - just the same as if it was my own home budget. Yes, productivity is very much affected by how well I keep up with developments in my profession. I do a far more efficient job now than I did five - six years ago when I started in this job.


Australasian Catholic Press Assocation (ACPA)

Australasian Religious Press Association ARPA



The Interview!

PrimaryPrimary & MiddleMiddle

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy 


1. You are to interview an older person - a grandparent or elderly neighbour about:

  • their life

  • their school days

  • the training for their job

  • their first job

  • their first pay

  • how they travelled to work

  • what they took to lunch each day

  • the changes in technology in their job

  • did they change jobs at any time

  • what things did they marvel at the most

2. You are to record this interview - either by taping it or making a video.

3. You are to take a photo of that person

4. You are to write an article about this person and submit it to this website - see link below (after getting permission from the person you have interviewed).

Tell Us About Your 'Life On The Job'


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