You would have to be living under a rock not to notice the world of media constantly changing and evolving, and one person who knows all about it is journalist Bianca O’Neill.
As a columnist for the Herald Sun, Broadsheet Melbourne and Fashion Journal magazine just to name a few – Bianca has seen the ever-evolving world of journalism and its transition into the digital era.
She is a leader in style and fashion, not to mention a powerhouse girl boss – using her platform to bring attention to issues and topics she’s passionate about – be it diversity, female empowerment or the ongoing influencer debate.
I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Bianca, after being a long time fan, to talk all things media, fashion and her secret to success.
Firstly, I have to say a HUGE thank you for agreeing to do this interview, you are someone I have admired for quite some time and this is truly a thrill. How did you get started in the industry?
I think I always knew I wanted to be a journalist, but I ended up in a Chemical Engineering degree at Uni. After finishing, I turned down job offers to do some soul searching. I went back and completed my Masters in Journalism, and started interning at a music street press.
Ironically the engineering degree helped me get my first big job in media, as I knew how to code – which was something not many journalists knew how to do back in the early 00’s. I guess the lesson here is that even a huge diversion like four years in the wrong degree can come full circle and make you stand out in the job search.
How do you see the world of journalism different now from when you started?
Ok so when I started, we were coding MySpace pages and Facebook didn’t even exist – so yeah, very different!
Print was still kicking, and people wondered why I was starting my career in online. Now, online is king, and those who didn’t upskill to understand social media and digital content have been left behind.
Unfortunately, nowadays a full time job in journalism is a unicorn – most journalists I know are freelance, or they now work in advertising/content.
As a journalist covering the world of fashion – how have you seen the industry evolve, and how far do we have to go when it comes to exclusivity and positive messages?
I was actually a music journalist for a lot longer than I have been a fashion journalist – so I can only really comment on the last five years or so. I would say awareness of diversity and inclusivity has peaked, but coverage is still lagging behind. Although we read a lot of op-eds about it, the actual industry is reluctant to change – and even, actively resisting it.
A topic I have seen you discuss quite a bit (and may even be the ‘elephant in the room/article’) is this insane apparent ‘war’ between journalists and bloggers/influencers. What are your thoughts and is there room, you think, for all of us to co-exist?
As I’ve always said, what they do is so different, I’ve never really understood the whole issue. Journalists shouldn’t be so threatened by what bloggers and influencers do – and although as a feminist I hate this tired old line, I genuinely think a lot of it is driven by jealousy, professional and otherwise.
Media outlets enjoy peddling these articles as it achieves two things for them: hate clicks, and bringing down their biggest competitor when it comes to waning marketing budgets.
That being said, the lack of legal and ethical training that most bloggers and influencers have, has allowed them to be an easy target for the industry. Why should journalists be held to ethical and legal standards, but not influencers? Of course they should disclose gifting.
Of course they should explicitly state when something is an advertisement. Of course they should tell their followers when a brand has paid for them to go on a free trip overseas – that’s just basic ethics.
What words of wisdom would you give to someone starting out in media?
It’s going to be hard to succeed in the current media environment… so find a way to stand out, work your butt off, don’t do it for the freebies, and don’t be a dick.
What mantra do you live by?
As a writer, I’ve always loved this quote from Spanish playwright and novelist Enrique Jardiel Poncela:
“When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.”
There’s nothing worse than overly laborious prose focused entirely on using big words. Your insecurity is showing.