The smell of printer’s ink no longer pervades Bowen Hills, but it remains the life-blood of dedicated journalists.
Teela Jurgensen was recruited from News Ltd Townsville to work for Quest, with her first role as advertising features editor. When Teela was appointed Quest property editor, she was asked to oversee the rejuvenation of the property section. “There was a hunger for real estate information from readers,” she says, some of whom are investors.
During the 18-month process, Teela extended her knowledge of the advertising side of the business and developed pilot formats to include localised stories based on data. The masthead was renamed about two weeks ago from “Quest property” to “Quest realestate” [sic, no space] to align with branding for realestate.com.au.
Information for 14 local papers is provided by the Quest property team which has reduced from four to two, due to natural attrition. Replacement journalists are expected to be recruited once the News Ltd editorial structure is completed and it is anticipated that News Ltd property desks across the state will merge.
The recent job cuts are not a threat, Teela says.
“We’re forced to be more efficient, but it’s not affecting quality. At the end of the restructure, we’ll gain back time to put to good news reporting.” Higher quality information will enable them to localise each paper further.
Teela views the pending merger with the property desks as a positive, but there are no present plans to include business commercial information in the Quest papers. “That would be a new development,” she says.
She believes in the longevity of newspapers, particularly community newspapers. “It is interesting to talk to contacts, readers, advertisers and friends. They all love weekly newspapers.”
Print readers are adapting to the online environment, she says, and it’s hard to know what will be the norm in two, three, or five years’ time.
Teela delivers one certainty, “all print media faces a real challenge,” which points in one direction: “We’re going back to the old business of what readers want. It is not new – delivering what our readers want.”
Teela has an infectious enthusiasm for community journalism. It’s been her lifestyle and her career for about 20 years.
“I started journalism two weeks out of school in regional New South Wales,” she says. The cadetship was a lucky break as her experience on the high school newspaper had set her career goal.
“I always wanted to be an editor,” Teela says. She describes herself as both a visual person who loves design layout and as a word-smith drawing people in with a well-developed, hard-hitting story. The downsides to being an editor are the focus on delivering a well-crafted story while others are responsible for page design, and, the job keeps her in the office. She explains: “I am not an office person.”
Out-of-hours meetings and events feed her passion for being a part of the community. “I love the role – that news role in community…and being a part of getting it out there,” she enthuses. She describes the role of community journalist as “an important role to be respected” and “very much a service role”.
A bubbly role model who has “learnt every aspect of the business”, Teela’s top tips for beginning journalists are: (a) keep in mind your reader is your target audience, (b) resilience and perseverance are needed to get into the industry, (c) have a work ethic – be prepared to do a lot of overtime: it’s a lifestyle job that is not 9-5.