Working in Regional Media: Journalist Panel Discussion

Journalism is a dynamic field, one with diverse opportunities and experiences. However, careers in journalism can be difficult to obtain in the metropolitan area. Ross Monaghan, Emily Dobson and myself sat down with Sarah Lawrence and Matt Currill to talk about finding a career in regional media.

Taking chances and ‘getting your foot in the door’

For both Sarah and Matt, one key message became apparent when talking about developing their careers…

Don’t be afraid to dive in the deep end.

Sarah has been able to land herself roles across platforms including channels 7, 9 and now the ABC, simply by putting her hand up and having a go. By doing this, she also discovered that she was not a fan of television show sales and was able to further delve into the world of news. Likewise, Matt put his hand up for multiple internships across several television and radio shows, soon finding his passion for print journalism as a sports journalist and is currently working for Ballarat Courier.

Why Regional Media?

Regional media brings benefits that metropolitan media doesn’t. It has allowed for both Matt and Sarah to get closer to their communities and bring a voice to issues that are often overlooked in metropolitan regions.

For Sarah, she also loves regional media because it is fun! She enjoys getting to know and become close to the community, not having a long commute and the cost of living. She says that to live regionally is a lot more affordable than it is to be living in the city and by putting yourself out there you are bound to make friends. Matt also enjoys being a closer member of the community and being able to see the changes he is making through his works.

“You get to see the changes you are making through the stories you are writing as you become close to everyone around you. It’s really rewarding.”

Matt Currill
Tips for getting an internship or graduate job in regional media

Like any other internship, sometimes being able to land one is difficult. However both Sarah and Matt agreed, you have to be persistent. Sarah says that you need to ask questions, have a consistent follow up and keep up to date with the editors and chief of staff. Matt also agrees to keep asking, as they are most likely not ignoring you, but instead they are just busy.

Benefits of Regional Media

Regional media offers a diverse range of stories and the ability to connect with the communities around you in ways that metropolitan media does not always offer. Matt likes the spontaneity of his day-to-day schedule and the variety of work he is offered. Sarah also agrees, adding that she enjoys learning new skills that regional media has offered. Sarah has covered content from sports to crime, allowing her to build transferable skills. She is currently learning to film stories and to present in an online format.

“The skills building is incredible… I am loving the variety of skills that you might not always have as a metro reporter.”

Sarah Lawrence
Responding to negative feedback

A producer once told Sarah some wise words of advice, “You are only as good as your last story.” Although negative feedback can be difficult to respond to, Sarah advises to ignore the keyboard warriors, accept the mistake and to keep moving on. Matt also says that we need to realise that we are human and we do make mistakes but it is important to preach honesty and own up to it.

How do you find stories?

Social media has had a significant impact in people able to connect with people, telling stories and helping people find their voices. Both Sarah and Matt use platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to find information and to message people. Sarah also uses email to check for press releases to find stories. However, social media has not taken away the importance of getting out of the office and talking to people. As Matt says, journalism is about getting out and about in the streets and being a good listener.

Differences with audience between regional and metro audiences

Regardless of where an audience is located, journalism is about giving people voices and sharing information. However, there have been quite a few differences between regional and metro audiences that both Sarah and Matt have come across. For Sarah, regional media has allowed for her to connect with audiences to reflect on smaller issues that you might not notice on a metro level. Matt has noticed that regional people are proud about their stories and the things that relate to them. In times like now, especially with the impact of COVID-19 we need these other voices.

“Just because they have a smaller population, it doesn’t mean they do not matter.”

Matt Currill
Goals for career development

Regional journalism encourages career growth and development as there are many opportunities to learn about new fields and topics within the industry. For this reason, Matt does not think he will leave regional media and that his career is only just beginning. He is working his way into exploring podcasting as his following in Ballarat grows. Sarah has become well known in Bendigo as the face on television, however she is now learning how to use the camera and operating tools. She has a goal to film a sensational story and to start to learn to edit.

Most rewarding part

For both Matt and Sarah, the people they meet throughout their career have left an everlasting impact. They both enjoy giving their respective communities a voice and making change, potentially giving an issue more exposure.

To watch the Facebook Live click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *