Where are you now and how did you get there?
I’m the Gippsland reporter for The Weekly Times, Australia’s largest selling rural newspaper based in Victoria. I worked in agriculture and for the state and federal government in international trade prior to my current role.
Having specialist knowledge in an industry and of government has been extremely valuable and probably gave me a foot in the door.
Why did you choose to study Media?
It has always fascinated me, I use to tape the radio broadcast of the Olympics when I was a kid! I decided to do the Swinburne course because I wanted to try something I might be passionate about. So I quit my ‘safe’ government job in Canberra and headed to Melbourne!
Before you started your degree, what did you think you would like to do? Have you achieved or changed this goal?
I wanted to be a working journalist and I chose Swinburne as it was the most practical course with really flexible hours which allowed me to work while I studied. Initially I thought I would like to work in radio but by learning print, radio and video journalism I kept my options open. Print journalism is a great place to start, and as a remote journalist I also take photos as well, which is an exciting and sometimes daunting experience.
I’d love to do more multimedia in the future, but there’s might be opportunities to do this in my current roles as my editor is encouraging us to do more video and online stories.
What is the best aspect of your job?
I love telling people’s stories, some of them are so interesting and they stay with you long after a yarn has run. It’s a real privilege to share someone’s story. But I also love that you learn every day on the job. One day I might be researching about GP training or covering a court case, the next day I’m looking into environmental regulations, sheep diseases, bee keeping or what every else crosses my path.
As a rural reporter I’m not stuck in an office I get to visit lots of farms and beautiful places from the high country region right through to the Gippsland Lakes and the rolling hills of dairy country down. I also get to visit a lot of cattle sale yards and get manure on my boots, but some of my best stories have come from there!
What advice would you give to current students?
Take any chance you get to be published or get your pieces broadcast. I did work experience with the ABC Rural department which was very valuable and also worked as an unpaid soccer and tennis reporter. If you have a special interest, for me this was soccer and agriculture, use this as a point of difference and try to get your foot in the door that way.
And also consider going to the country to work for a rural paper, radio/TV station. You will get a very diverse experience that people working in bigger organisations don’t get. You also learn how important your job is when you live in the same community that your report on.
Networks are gold. When I cold called the Weekly Times for a job the person I spoke with knew me from work I’d done with a grain company years ago.
Anything else you would like to add?
It’s not for the faint hearted. We have to ask the hard questions, but if you love sticking it up the government for poor decisions and digging for a good yarn then journalism might be your gig.