Introduction to Journalism, Media and Communication, QUT.
Picture 1: Photograph of Sally Obermeder, Seven Network
Traditional news platforms, such as television and newspaper, are struggling to remain afloat among the waves of advanced technologies and social media formats which are rapidly changing the media industry. Successful Australian journalist Sally Obermeder has embraced this era of innovation through her active engagement with online platforms and her involvement with the four major elements currently transforming the journalism landscape. The concepts of media convergence and globalisation have positively affected her career as a media professional as she is a prominent social media figure and a popular blogger, while she frequently influences the public sphere through her role as a presenter. As Obermeder specialises in lifestyle segments rather than focusing on investigative journalism, she does not contribute to the notion of the fourth estate however is affiliated with a network which often becomes involved in fourth estate situations.
Biographical & Career Details
Born in Paddington on August 17th in 1973, Sally Obermeder was raised in Castle hill by two accountants (Hutton 2011). Following in her parents’ footsteps, she studied a Bachelor of Commerce and laboured for years in the accounting industry before transferring to a career in journalism. This switch enabled Obermeder to reach her current status as a widely renowned Australian media personality and television presenter (Obermeder 2011, Never Stop Believing). Obermeder’s autobiography, ‘Never Stop Believing,’ inspired me both professionally and personally, as it introduced me to the journalism industry and ultimately lead me to studying the very course I’m writing this essay for. Obermeder demonstrated admirable qualities of determination, dedication and independence in her journey to becoming a skilled journalist, freelancing for four years to build a name for herself. Her career kicked off in 2005 with the Seven Network after they discovered her unpaid segments on Channel 31’s Not the Movie Show and employed her as a researcher for the Sydney Weekender (Obermeder 2011, Never Stop Believing). From 2008 to 2013, Obermeder was the National Entertainment and Lifestyle Reporter for Today Tonight, and is currently co-hosting The Daily Editionwhile frequently appearing on Sunrise and The Morning Show. Not only has she become a familiar face to Channel 7’s news programs, she also managed to waltz her way into their Dancing with the Stars program in 2013 (Chic Management).
Sally Obermeder is my role model as not only does she demonstrate the commitment and confidence I wish to reflect in my own journalistic career, but her philosophy to never give up inspires and strengthens people facing difficult challenges. Her autobiography heavily features her experience undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with one year before my own mother contracted the illness. Reading her book helped my mother to remain positive throughout her treatment and allowed me to grasp the reality of the situation. Obermeder inspires me because her values, optimism and position in the media are what I aspire to embody and reflect.
While Obermeder is primarily a journalistic presenter with Seven Network, she has expanded her reach to online platforms which, as a result of media convergence, has been highly beneficial to her career. Media convergence refers to the digital technology which allows users to share content across a range of materials, from iPhones to tablets, in order to maximise the number of devices through which we can access information (Turrow 2009, p. 210). Audience segmentation, a result of convergence and the process by which content is tailored to reach specific audiences, is particularly prevalent to Obermeder’s growing success (Turrow 2009, p. 191). Covering a range of lifestyle categories, her online blog, Swiish, has managed to collect a loyal following by generating content specifically targeted at mothers and beauty and fashion fanatics. In 2015, Obermeder expanded her blog into an online store which is promoted across the journalist’s social media accounts, her Instagram profile boasting upwards of 51 000 followers (Instagram: sallyobermeder) while her Twitter account is followed by just under 20 500 people (Twitter: Sally Obermeder). These online mediums allow Obermeder to interconnect with an international audience on a more personal and interactive level. For example, the professional blogger launched a healthy-eating smoothie challenge on her blog which thousands of people participated in through Instagram, uploading their progress and forging a connection between online platforms and reality (Obermeder, Swiish). Media convergence has significantly affected Obermeder’s career as she has utilised the evolving status of the media to her advantage, connecting with audiences through a variety of online sites and embracing an era of innovation.
Along with media convergence, globalisation has also had a substantial impact on Obermeder’s profession. Globalisation is the process through which online media technology enables users to circulate ideas and ideologies around the world, allowing people from different countries to virtually interconnect with one another (Flew 2007, p. 3). With globalisation comes the prospect of international shipping, which positively impacts Obermeder’s career by increasing the revenue to her online Swiish store. Additionally, her blog and profiles can be ‘followed’ by anyone from anywhere in the world, while her segments on Channel 7 can be viewed on the internet through online streaming anywhere from Japan to New York. Her life-changing experience undergoing breast cancer while simultaneously raising a new-born tugged the heart-strings of the public worldwide, causing the journalist to become a news-item in herself. She made an appearance in online news around the globe, such as the UK’s Daily Mail (Kilby, 2014) and the USA’s She Said (Gillespie, 2015). Sally Obermder’s career has been positively influenced by globalisation, as making the world a smaller place through technology has expanded the general public’s awareness of her popular blog and social media profiles, causing her to become a widely recognised media professional. Through this status, Obermeder is afforded the opportunity to contribute to the ideology of the fourth estate, which is one of the four key elements shaping the evolving journalism industry in contemporary society.
The Fourth Estate
Working as a journalist within the Seven Network, Obermeder has the potential to become involved with the metaphorical concept of the fourth estate. The fourth estate “…is the idea that the press and mass media hold other institutions to account by reporting on their activities, thereby becoming a political force for more pluralistic governance.” (Prabhat and Sindhuha, 2014, p. 2) This idea suggests that the media’s central role is to publicise when governments and powerful organisations abuse their statuses of power, specifically when their actions substantially affect society. However, because Obermeder reports predominantly on lifestyle categories and strays from the conventions of investigative reporting, she does not cover any news items that venture into the fourth estate. Rather than informing the public about clandestine issues, Obermeder voices her opinions to the wider society and therefore influences the public sphere, which is becoming more and more significant as social media platforms overtake traditional methods of communication.
The Public Sphere
As a journalist, presenter and professional blogger Obermeder has a major influence in the public sphere. This concept is the idea that society can produce and shape the popular opinion into a concrete form through the use of social media, forums of discussion and surveys (Soules, Marshall, 2007). She often influences the public sphere by freely discussing and identifying societal problems, ensuring that her opinions on controversial topics and significant issues surface on national television. Last April she was accused of supporting anti-vaccination views in regards to the whooping cough immunisation debate on Channel 7’s Sunrise, arguing “Isn’t it the parents’ right to choose what they want for their child?” (News Corp Australia Network, 2015). Although she does not support the majority view, the debate demonstrates that the journalist is not afraid to speak her mind against the public agenda and as a result effectively shape the public sphere. Additionally, Obermeder uses her powerful position as a media professional to influence her followers to support a number of charities. She is a passionate ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Sony Foundation while working alongside The Breast Cancer Network of Australia with the recent launch of her own charitable initiative, Wish by Swiish™ (Chic Management). Obermeder contributes to the public sphere by constructing public opinion on divisive, important topics such as the immunisation debate, while also promoting charity organisations.
Picture 2: Obermeder on ‘Kochie’s Angels’ Sunrise segment
Obermeder’s professional career is influenced by modern trends of media convergence and globalisation due to her innovative approach to social media and blogging. While she does not report on topics related to the fourth estate, she is a familiar face to Channel 7 enthusiasts and has immensely contributed to the public sphere as she supports numerous charities for breast cancer while striving to present her personal opinions on contentious topics. Sally dedicated herself to her career in order to be rewarded with the position in the media she currently holds and is a tremendous inspiration for myself, both professionally and personally, as a distinguished media personality and television presenter.
Chic Management. “Sally Obermeder.” Accessed March 3, 2016.www.chiccelebrity.com.au/profile/776/sally-obermeder/
Flew, Terry. 2007. Understanding Global Media. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Gillespie, Isabelle. 2015. “Inspirational Women: Sally Obermeder.” Accessed March 15, 2016.http://shesaid.com/inspirational-women-sally-obermeder-2/
Hutton, Dan. 2011. “Sally Obermeder- Falling in Love with Bondi.” Accessed March 3, 2016.http://thebeast.com.au/people/sally-obermeder-falling-in-love-with-bondi/#
Kilby, Penelope. 2014. “ ‘It started to fall off’: TV star Sally Obermeder opens up about losing 36kg after putting on weight during cancer battle.” Accessed March 15, 2016.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2768752/TV-star-cancer-survivor-Sally-Obermeder-loses-36kg-lifestyle-overhaul.html
News Corp Australia Network. 2015. “Sunrise panellists Elka Whalan and Sally Obermeder in hot water over vaccination debate.” Accessed March 12, 2016. http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/morning-shows/sunrise-panellists-elka-whalan-and-sally-obermeder-in-hot-water-over-vaccination-debate/news-story/dc632b30c925c159d086f928e3b4fca7
Obermeder, Sally. 2013. Never Stop Believing. New South Wales: Allen & Unwin Publishing.
Obermeder, Sally. “Swiish by Sally Obermeder.” Accessed March 3, 2016. http://www.swiish.com/
Ranjan, Prabhat and Kashyap, Sindhuha. 2014. Media as the Fourth Estate of Democracy. Accessed March 12, 2016. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2485908
Soules, Marshall. 2007. “Jurgem Habermas and the Public Sphere.” Accessed March 12, 2016. http://www.media-studies.ca/articles/habermas.htm
Turow, Joseph. 2009. “A world of blurred media boundaries.” In Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Taylor and Francis Publishing.
Username: sallyobermeder. Accessed March 12, 2016. https://www.instagram.com/sallyobermeder/
Username: Sally Obermeder.Accessed March 12, 2016. https://twitter.com/sallyobermeder