Harrison Tippet, award-winning Geelong Advertiser journalist

Harrison Tippet has followed in the family business. Photo Harrison Tippet.
SHARE:
“You learn a lot of lessons very quickly in this industry” 2011 Student Journalist of the Year Harrison Tippet sits down with Ryan Malcolm to discuss his early career highlights and life as a reporter for the Geelong Advertiser.

What initially drove your passion for journalism? Was it something you had your heart set on from a young age?

Both of my parents were journalists (Gary Tippet and Jeni Port) – they actually met at the Sun News Pictorial – so it’s always been a profession that made sense to me. Seeing the events my dad covered really interested me, like heading to Fiji to cover a coup and even seeing him cover the Jaidyn Leskie case. It just seemed like an exciting thing to do as a job.

I remember making the decision to pursue a career as a print journo when I was in Year 10, so I just set about doing what I needed to do to get here.

I’ve always loved reading and writing, which is where the early passion for the job probably started – but it was actually getting into my career and experiencing the excitement of chasing and covering stories where my passion for the gig really grew.

How did you break into the industry then?

I like to plan things out, and my plan was always to finish university and then get a cadetship or traineeship at the Herald Sun or The Age. I managed to knock over a few internships while I was at university, including one at the Leader – which is how I ended up breaking into Journalism in the end, even if it wasn’t how I’d planned to in the beginning.

Finishing university there wasn’t much around in the way of cadetships and traineeships so I had to find a new way in. Luckily the team at Leader were happy with my work as an intern and allowed me to come on as a part-time contributor, where I eventually convinced them to take me on full-time as a floating reporter. Eventually they gave me my own paper to write for, which soon turned into two papers.

Have you noticed any changes in the way young reporters break into the industry in the seven years since you began?

From what I’ve seen you still just need to take those entry level positions. Newsrooms in general are shrinking – whether we like it or not – which is always going to make it more difficult to break into the industry.

I think it’s still just all about taking what you can get. I moved down here [Geelong] because I thought it would be good for career progression, I packed up my life and moved and it’s worked out pretty well. You can never be motivated by money in this career, so trying to break into the industry with high expectations about what you’ll earn will just make a difficult proposition even harder.

Looking back, what have been some of the landmark moments of your career so far?

I was lucky enough to start out with a bit of a bang, winning a couple of industry awards for my final university assignment, which gave me some much-needed confidence in the early days.

You might think the first front page yarn will be a landmark moment, but I can’t really remember mine. I was probably too nervous in the early days at Leader to really appreciate it. One of the first big moments for me was my first feature yarn on a War Widows group. I remember being really gratified by the opportunity to write something colourful.

The other moment was when I ran a successful campaign in the Preston Leader to get a high school reopened. It’s nice to know that I played some small part in helping the community get the school reopened, that the stories I wrote helped others who were pushing the campaign.

Any final advice you’d give to aspiring journalists?

I mean, the advice is really just to work hard. You’re going to get lucky here and there and you’ll miss out on good opportunities here and there as well. Things won’t always go to plan, and, if they do, consider yourself very lucky. You’ve just got to make sure it’s really what you want to do, and then if it is you need to go out and start getting good stories and learning the craft.

You’re never going to be great straight away, but you’ll be surprised that as you learn how to do things, the confidence grows really quickly, especially when you’re in the print game because you have to do so much.

You learn a lot of lessons very quickly in this industry.