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Spotlight on Journalism post-COVID - part 2

As the new normal firmly settles in and working life as we know it adjusts to its reimagined future, one industry that has undoubtedly felt huge ramifications is journalism. We asked some of the most talented journalists across the Australian landscape to share their thoughts on a post COVID work environment. This week, we heard from Marlyn Docherty, Helen Hawkes and Stephanie Darling.

Marlyn Docherty

Marlyn is an experienced healthcare copywriter and content creator, working with healthcare advertisers, PR agencies, digital agencies and consumer websites. She was the founding editor of the award-winning consumer healthcare website

Helen Hawkes

With 25 years’ experience in print and digital media, Helen has produced compelling lifestyle and business content for clients including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, American Express, GQ Australia, Q Super, the Australian Women’s Weekly, HCF Health Fund, the Commonwealth Bank, and more.

Stephanie Darling

Stephanie Darling has had a long and illustrious career working in magazines. She has worked as Beauty Director for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Madison and is now the Beauty Director for Nine’s Sunday Life which appears weekly in the Sun Herald. She is also a published author of Secrets of a Beauty Queen published by Penguin/Random House.

What has been the biggest change in your professional world during COVID-19?

Helen Hawkes: I’m writing more about business and mental health through a COVID lens. I’m also looking at how businesses are reimagining themselves, and communicating that to their target audience.


What do you think the rest of 2020 holds for journalism/media?

Helen Hawkes: I think well-strategised, well-written content will continue to be a growing market. There is a greater acceptance that quality content, not just everyday blogging, sells.

Stephanie Darling: Crisis mode!

What do brands need to be thinking about now when it comes to content and communication?

Marlyn Docherty: COVID-19 will remain in the spotlight but the messages around it are already evolving: brands have to be agile enough to move rapidly with the times.

Helen Hawkes: Being absolutely clear on their audience and in which medium they are most likely to reach them, providing take-out value from content, acknowledging and responding to an audience's known or researched needs.

Stephanie Darling: Trying to stand out and have a sense of how fragile the world is at the moment.

What kind of stories will hold the most interest for media?

Marlyn Docherty: A lot of content has already moved from COVID-19-focused to post-lockdown focus. I think COVID-19 will still dominate but in ever-changing ways.

Helen Hawkes: Finance, health, property renovation, personal growth, sustainability and social justice.

Stephanie Darling: Accessible beauty stories as you can invest in the feel good factor for as little or as much as you want.

What would you say to students studying journalism as a career?

Marlyn Docherty: Consider a backup career, times look rather tight at the moment.

Helen Hawkes: Understand multiple digital platforms and learn how to tell a compelling story. But don’t forget about building relationships.

What are you most looking forward to now that restrictions are starting to lift?

Marlyn Docherty: I am actually happy in lockdown mode - if anything, easing of restrictions is causing more concern as we await the second wave of community transmission. I'm looking forward to later in the year when we (hopefully) have avoided that scenario!

Helen Hawkes: Eating in a restaurant and having coffee with interesting friends and mentors!

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