News internships with a difference

Over the university’s summer break, Curtin journalism students Angela Ho and Daniel Yong interned with WA media organisations as part of a national project sponsored by Media Diversity Australia and the Google News Initiative.

Applicants had to come from a First Nations or culturally or linguistically diverse background or have an interest in growing First Nations and cultural and linguistic diversity in Australia’s newsrooms.

The internships were expected to run for up to eight weeks.

Angela went to 10 News First while Daniel was placed with Seven West Media.

Unfortunately, Daniel’s internship was cut short when many Seven West editorial staff were directed to work from home because of concerns about COVID-19. Here they write about their experiences.

Angela Ho – Media diversity is about belonging

Angela Ho tries out the presenter’s seat at Ten News First. Photo: Supplied.

A Persian mother of two, Fahima Jamy was one of the first onlookers to arrive at the scene of a hit-and-run which had occurred outside her Willetton home.

And when we came knocking for CCTV the next day, she was expecting us. 

In a commercial broadcast sense, she’s what you might call ideal talent — lively with her details, good humoured in her grabs — and Channel Nine somehow hadn’t found her yet. 

But she almost didn’t make it to air that night. 

Not because she didn’t have anything valuable to say, but because somewhere in the back of her mind, she’d already decided that she wouldn’t go on TV with an accent.

Fortunately, she did eventually speak to us on camera, and we left with the competitive edge which set our story apart in that evening’s 5pm bulletin. 

The other good news was that as a Media Diversity Australia intern, I was starting to come to terms with the small but disempowering ways in which I’d unwittingly allowed a lack of on-screen diversity to limit the scope of my own imagination. 

Because biases are invisible until you notice them — and you can’t dream what you can’t see.

All at sea in a busy TV newsroom

Reporting for Ten News First took Angela into many unusual situations. Photo supplied.

My whirlwind seven weeks through the Ten News First newsroom took me across all of Perth’s local and breaking news, covering everything from court to sport, and cows to COVID.

It was a lesson in fast processing, persistence and letting go of perfection. Because when you’re delivering to a daily deadline, you’re not afforded the luxury of overthinking. 

“Every day is a compromise,” were the wise reassurances of senior journalist Natalie Forrest after my first story went to air. 

It’s not perfect, but it’s progress — and for an early career journalist, it’s worth celebrating.

I don’t define my experiences by the fact of being a “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse” person – and certainly don’t claim to speak for the experiences of every CaLD person aspiring for a career in the media. 

The spectrum of minority experiences is itself a diverse one, and there’s only so much a label can encompass.

Experiencing that we too can be capable has been the biggest learning yet. 

But I’ll know I’ve made it when I can get my pieces-to-camera looking sincere but not too serious.

Daniel Yong – My experience at The West Australian.

Daniel Yong says his internship at Seven West Media was a priceless opportunity. Photo: Supplied.

As one of Media Diversity Australia’s successful summer internship applicants, I was given the privilege to intern at The West Australian’s head office in Osborne Park.

If you are an Indigenous or culturally diverse student who is studying journalism, you must consider MDA’s summer internship opportunity because it is a priceless chance to gain an understanding of what it’s like to work as a journo.  

It’s amazing how much I learned from quietly observing the senior journalists.

As an intern, you do sit around sometimes because everyone is multi-tasking and trying their hardest to meet deadlines.

A journalist in the PerthNow department could work on three stories a day!

However, when they weren’t busy, my editor would encourage me to get involved by pitching ideas to him and other journos.

This was a priceless opportunity to receive constructive criticism on my pitches and to set off and write about something which captured my interest.

Personally, the best way to approach these pitching opportunities was to have a thorough discussion with the team about an idea.

Daniel enjoyed swapping ideas with other reporters. Photo: Supplied.

They would kindly inform me whether the pitch was ‘newsworthy’ or if it’d be better to pursue another idea. 

Maximise this opportunity.

Back yourself in. You’re not an impostor.

‘Impostor syndrome’ was also an issue which I faced during placement.

As the only Malaysian guy in the newsroom, the gig was especially difficult in the first few days as the team adjusted to my presence, but perseverance and employing a laid-back attitude went a long way. 

There were two other culturally diverse journalists in my team. Both were women.

I was very happy to see the increasing diversification of The West’s news-scape, although it would have been even nicer to see another culturally diverse guy in the news department.

Try not to expect everyone in the room to warm up to you on the first day too. Some journalists do take longer than others.

Finally, I’ve been told repeatedly that very few people, if indeed anyone, gets into journalism for the money. 

It’s usually for the feeling of changing society for the better.