1. Tell us, in a nutshell, how you got your start in the industry.
It all began with a journalism internship in 2007 at Fairfax Media which evolved into a paid contract role. I wrote for several weekly publications that covered inner Melbourne suburbs. It was here that I realised I had a talent for writing and wanted to pursue a career in journalism. After that, I completed several other writing/journalism internships while fulfilling freelance commissions to build up my portfolio and experience. I eventually landed a full time role with a newspaper and have continued from there.
2. What were some of the difficulties you encountered when trying to establish yourself as a writer? Did you rely on any tools, mentors, groups or writers centres/courses for help?
One of the biggest challenges I faced, particularly when starting out, was proving my worth and ability as a journalist. Accumulating experience was key but selling myself and my skills was even more important. I also struggled with finding publications that were willing to pay me for my work. Being confident and believing in the value of my skills helped me get past this. I didn’t rely on tools, mentors or groups to get me through this but I have, over the years, maintained a presence on social media (especially Twitter) and been to several journalism conferences to keep up to date with changes and advances in the industry.
3. What has been your biggest career highlight so far? And the biggest lesson you have learnt?
For me, working in London as a journalist was a highlight. I worked for an online daily news organisation where I got to write a range of stories including breaking news and lifestyle features. I also wrote scripts and presented video reports for their online news channel. The life experience I gained living and working abroad was also incredibly valuable.
4. What gets you inspired?
Meeting like-minded people who can engage in a thought-provoking discussion, reading a well-written feature or book, and thinking about or planning my next creative project.
5. What’s next on your goals list?
I’ve got a couple of projects in the pipeline which I can’t reveal just yet. But I’m always eager to keep in touch with the way things are developing in the online/digital sphere. In the coming year I hope to get a better grasp on how social media and SEO can support my writing, either via training courses or workshopping with others active in these fields.
6. What’s your typical day like?
I’m usually out the door by 7am and on my way to work. The first thing I do is check major news sites around the country to see if anything interesting has developed overnight, I check social media to see what people are chatting about and then I start planning out my day. My to-do list is my best friend. Because I work primarily in online news it is important to be flexible – I have a lot of ad-hoc tasks that come up each day on top of my normal work load so managing my time is crucial. I’ll edit several stories a day to publish on the web while simultaneously monitoring social media feeds for breaking news or other story ideas. Some days I’ll have an editorial meeting scheduled in where we discuss story ideas for the week ahead. My input, from an online/digital perspective, is to get my team members thinking about how we can maximise stories for the online experience – identifying opportunities for video, photo galleries or interactive media. My day usually finishes up about 5pm or 6pm and I head home for dinner. I try to squeeze in some evening exercise if possible, like a yoga class or a brisk walk. I find it really important to de-stress at the end of the day and to maintain good health.
7. What advice can you offer to people who aspire to get into a similar role/field?
Accumulate as much experience as you can, as quickly as you can. Intern at newspapers or magazine offices, pitch your writing to publications and build up a decent portfolio of writing that shows you are capable of a range of writing styles. Networking is also important – both online and face to face – as a lot of opportunities in the media industry come about through people you know. Make contacts and don’t be afraid to approach publications for work. Tenacity is a trait needed in this field so demonstrate it wherever you can.
The Speedy Six:
- Describe yourself in one word: Diligent.
- You wish you wrote: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
- Can’t leave home without: My iPhone.
- First thing you wrote: A music festival review which was published in my high school’s magazine.
- If you were a character in a novel, you’d be: Andrea Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada.
- The best thing about being a wordsmith: Creating something from nothing. I love starting with a blank page and building a story from there. I always feel a sense of accomplishment on completing a story.