Star News Group journalist, Kyra Gillespie

Kyra Gillespie. Photo Breanna Taylor.
“It was just doing a single journalism subject that made me realise how much I loved it, it brought in writing, storytelling and intertwined it into one awesome, unpredictable job.” Star News Group journalist, Kyra Gillespie, tells Breanna Taylor how she became a cadet reporter.

What made you interested in journalism?

I’ve always had a passion for books, writing and storytelling! At school English and Literature were my favourite subjects by far, which I took as further studies at university. I did a Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne Uni and majored in English, Theatre Studies, Politics and International Studies and through my course I undertook several journalism subjects which made me realise how my skills and passions could be combined into a job. After that I went down to my local paper, Star News Group, and asked if I could do some free work for them and it just so happened that one of their journalists were leaving, and they offered me the job! It was a huge change of pace, but I have learnt so much and grown so much since.

What can you say is most the rewarding part of the job?

Definitely the people you meet along the way; being able to meet interesting and diverse people and be the conduit through which they share their stories is so fulfilling. Sometimes I have to pinch myself and say: ‘is this really my job? Am I really getting paid to do this?’  I also love the unpredictability of journalism and how one day is completely different from the last. When I walk into the office I have no idea what the day will hold, and that works well for me.

 Do you remember the first story you were asked to write? 

It’s funny, my first day at the local paper happened to land on deadline day, so the whole office was buzzing and everyone had their heads down, working frantically. I remember one of the editors came up to my desk with a handful of papers with different stories he wanted me to tackle and by that point I hadn’t even figured out how to their online portal worked! My very first article was about a cold snap that left the town at a standstill. We had people ringing in about burst water pipes and cracked windscreens because of the weather, it was such a classic first cadet story.

Do you have any passions and can they be expressed through your career?

I would see myself as someone very passionate about gender equality and human rights and as a journalist, we can hear people’s stories and give them validation. There can definitely be a direct correlation between your job and your passions if you choose to make that connection. I have found with this job sometimes you write on things you aren’t inspired by, but at the end of the day I have a passion for people and just want to humanize things so it always comes through in your writing if it’s a passion of yours.

What sparked this passion for gender equality?

My dad is a men’s behaviour change facilitator for the Salvation Army, and works with men who perpetrate violence against women and basically helps to rehabilitate them. Without getting too personal, my mum’s life has been touched by trauma and taught me to speak out and stand up for myself. She instilled such great values in me and through that I’ve become very aware and passionate about equality! At Melbourne Uni when I was studying my degree, I took a handful of gender studies classes and to me it was like opening Pandora’s box, I became so inspired and interested in the origins of feminism – from suffragettes to this new third wave today.

Do you find challenges working at a local paper? Do you think these would be different to national news paper?  

As a local paper, we have a really strong connection with the community, which can be both good and bad in a way. For example, when a big story breaks locally, larger news channels can fly in and get the story and then fly out, without having to deal with the ramifications that the story or the coverage had on the people living there. We have more of a responsibility to our readership, so we must tread more carefully but that’s a good thing and instils good values and principles as a journalist.

What has been your biggest challenge so far? 

I think learning to juggle the workload has been the biggest challenge and learning curve for me. I have to pitch and write five stories a day, which is a huge change from university where you have 4-6 weeks to complete an assignment. Coming from a classroom environment then working in the field is a huge change of pace and it can take a while to adjust. You are working with real people, in real time, for a real publication, while it’s awesome and rewarding it can be pretty stressful too.