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Industry insights for Melbourne journalism students

Macleay College students in Melbourne were given a day of journalism insight this week by some of the industry’s finest journalists – Andrew Rennie, Bella Anderson, Louise Graham and Bob Kearsley.

Networking is key

The day kicked off with Andrew Rennie, chief of staff for Leader Newspapers, who offered a great deal of information on pathways into a media career and the changing nature of the media landscape.

In particular he emphasised the importance of networking. “It’s not about what you know, but about who you know,” he said. “It’s about connections.”

Rennie cut his journalistic teeth in New Zealand before heading to the UK, where he worked on the Watford Observer weekly paper and national Daily Mirror.



Internships advice

Next, students heard from Bella Anderson of Progressive PR. Anderson explained how her current position had grown out of an internship, and offered advice on gaining industry experience and knowledge while studying.

Anderson also touched on the relationship between public relations firms and journalists, advising students on how to build these relationships.

Anderson’s clients range from hotels to the Australian Defence Force, and she stressed the importance of pitching stories to the relevant publication.

For instance, a profile of a serviceman or woman may be targeted at weekly newspapers such as Leader, while a forthcoming market at CBD hotel Citadines would be a more natural fit for the listings page of a metro daily.


Journalism skills

After a short morning tea break, Louise Graham of Media Gang spoke to the group. With a background in photography, Graham worked at The Age for several years before setting up her own media recruitment agency, which places freelance journalists with organisations.

Graham gave a frank appraisal of how tough it has become to break into journalism and encouraged students to develop a multitude of skills.

A theme touched on by all speakers was reiterated during Graham’s presentation. “Adaptation is so important. In this day and age, flexibility is king,” she said.


Future vision

The day was rounded out with acclaimed journalist and Melbourne Press Club committee member Bob Kearsley.

Kearsley told tales from his early journalism days, where he covered the Vietnam War. He shared stories and described the shift in journalism over the course of his career.

Throughout the day students were inspired to read more, write more, learn more, connect more and question more. So it was fitting that the day ended with this nugget of advice from Kearsley: “Don’t take no for answer, just keep banging on the door … and above all enjoy it, because that’s what it’s all about.”

Lessons learnt from the day

  • It’s who you know – get out there and network
  • It’s a competitive industry – be dedicated and hard-working
  • Be flexible and willing
  • It’s better to have too many skills than not enough

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