What drove you to become a journalist?
I’ve always loved writing, even as a kid. I have memories of getting a computer for Christmas one year. I would just write fiction for my friends on word doc and loved it. Before I graduated from uni, and for as long as I could remember, I always wanted to be a journalist and loved chasing the news stories. I guess I’ve always been a writer, and once I got older, I got more of a taste for news journalism and writing stories that mattered and made a difference in the world.
I just fell in love with the thrill of writing stories that make a differenceKara Irving
How did you break into the journalism industry?
I studied a Bachelor of Journalism at Latrobe and graduated in 2011. I started in news journalism, and I had a front-page story in the Age in 2011, before Instagram and Facebook were a big deal. The article was basically about these footballers who had shared all these images of women in a Facebook group. The whole process of finding the story, writing the story, pitching it to the Age and them choosing it as a front page exclusive, made me fall in love with the thrill. It’s a bit egotistical but I did enjoy writing that story and everyone talking about it. From that point on, I knew this is what I wanted to do, and ended up doing an internship in Warwick, Queensland, and was referred to the editor in Gladstone as a news reporter. I loved the two years I worked there, it was the best experience, then I moved back to Ballarat, because I wanted to get into a big paper. After working in Ballarat, I applied for the Herald Sun, and have worked here ever since, for five years now, from general news to online reporting and content creation, writing what I like and what our subscribers will read. It’s good as a writer to get your writing seen in lots of different publications.
Do you hunt for your stories, or do they come to you?
A bit of both. In news journalism I suppose it depends how good of a journalist you are to build your contacts. A lot of the stories you generate from your own ideas are great because you’re the one that’s out experiencing it, whereas for lifestyle writing there’s a lot of creativity but people from wineries, cafes and other places will sometimes contact me with what’s happening in the industry. In that way, there’s more stories that come to you in the lifestyle realm, but you could argue in news journalism it could be the same, depending on your networks.
Have you noticed any recent changes in how people write within the industry?
In terms of technology, there’s a lot of changes that I’ve seen in the time I’ve been here. When I started, Twitter and Facebook were around, but they were just starting to happen, but Instagram hadn’t happened yet, which is huge part in lifestyle writing, sharing and content creation, especially for us at the Herald Sun. I guess in terms of the way we write and file stories, we have access to so much more information and data to see how stories are rating and performing online. The role that I’m in is very good because I can get up to the minute data on how well a story is performing, if a story is doing well compared to another. We have more of a direct engagement and relationship with the reader than we did 30 years ago, where people can share and comment, rather than the only direct feedback being a call or a letter to the editor.
Do you regret anything in your career?
I don’t think I regret anything, or regret any decision that I’ve made, because everything I’ve done has led to where I am today. There’s always a lot of challenges that come with journalism, you’re always going to have your set-backs but it happens for the right reasons and you learn from it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as a journalist?
To just go out and do it! That would be the best advice. If you’re wanting to be a journalist you need to start writing, and if you want to be television reporter, you need to start getting out there and filming. Learning how to do things works the best when you’re on the job. Get out there and actively create content, to write a blog if you can’t get published anywhere, do it yourself! I think a lot of people hold back because they make excuses about not having anywhere to work, when you can always do it yourself. Never give up and keep trying because setbacks are inevitable in this career, but never take no for an answer!