Devi Rajaram

Devi Rajaram, Bachelor of Arts (Journalism)

As a third year Journalism Undergraduate student, I had the opportunity to intern with a couple of news organisations – SBS World News Australia Radio, Australian Associated Press (AAP) and WIN TV (Ballarat).

The key to gaining these internships, in my case, was to start contacting the news organisations as soon as e-mails with information regarding the ATS 3919 Journalism Professional Placement unit was out – that is, end of the semester prior to the placement semester. Also, I kept my options open – I sent out e-mails, along with examples of my journalistic work and my CV explaining why I wanted to intern at that particular newsroom, to almost every newsroom listed on the Unit guide. Of course, most times, I rarely got a response back. Undeterred and cheered on by sheer faith in the value of persistence, I remember spending hours in the mornings over my summer break trying to follow up on my e-mails to the various news rooms by calling them up to speak to the Executive Producers, Chief of Bureaus etc. Doing so allowed me to speak to those in-charge of the news rooms directly and to explain to them about myself and why exactly I was keen on interning with them – exactly how I landed at SBS World News Australia Radio, Australian Associated Press (AAP) and WIN TV (Ballarat) as an intern.

Getting a spot as an intern at any news room is never exactly the easiest of things. However, what’s even more challenging is to serve justice to your opportunity. Never walk into a news room without a couple of news story ideas you would like to pitch. Be initiative, be genuinely initiative but never be dominant or assume your story ideas fare better than the journalists in the news room. Make sure to establish a good rapport with not only your Editors/Executive Producers etc but also, the journalists working in the news rooms. Doing so would see you hearing from the journalists their experiences in the career (i.e. how they started out, advice on gaining employment after completing a journalism course etc.) and also, the ease at which you’re able to pitch story ideas and discuss your progress with the editors/executive producers.

My first ever news room experience was at SBS World News Australia Radio and on my first day itself, I was literally thrown into a deep end, treated just like any other journalists in the news room. I was assigned the task of interviewing, editing and writing for an online podcast within a few hours of my first day there. However, the mentoring I got from the Executive Producer at SBS World News Australia Radio is something I’ll be absolutely grateful for throughout my career as a journalist. I was given valuable feedback at the end of every week for the two weeks I was there. The skills I picked up in regards to interviewing, researching, writing and editing for radio while at SBS World News Australia Radio within just those two weeks was definitely something I wouldn’t have been able to gain from on campus lessons – a classic example of why one should definitely undertake the journalism placement unit at some point in their journalism course. Two weeks in a news room and I just never wanted to leave though my time there had come to an end. Hence, I approached the Executive Producer (EP) and asked if I could return for more work experience. After some consideration, the EP said he liked my work attitude and that hence, I could return for more work experience if I wanted. A two week-long work experience went on for a year and I’ve been a casual radio journalist with SBS World News Australia Radio for a while now.

At the Australian Associated Press (AAP), I had the opportunity to work amongst journalists filing breaking news stories for a national news wire. I got to tag along with journalists from the AAP when they attended door-stops by politicians, court hearings of the infamous Judy Moran case and various other corporate events after which, I filed mock news stories. The journalists then edited my work and gave me feedback on how I could improve my news writing skills for the different news types – i.e. breaking news, court reports, etc. On my last few days at the AAP, I was sent out on my own to file a couple of breaking news stories which were then sent out on the national news wire and picked up by several newspapers including The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. It was definitely a challenging experience being assigned the task of filing breaking news stories for the national news wire given the multitude of tasks involved – i.e. taking photographs and recording video as well as audio clips to accompany the print version of the stories. Despite the challenges, it was an experience that allowed me the opportunity to experience the journalism profession in its truest form given the current news media climate where journalists are expected to be equipped with a multitude of skills (technical skills, social media awareness etc.) and be able to multi-task efficiently.

My one week at WIN TV (Ballarat) was an eye-opener in every way possible. Interning at a regional news room is an experience every journalism student should go for, I say. The news angle taken on for localising national breaking news stories and the orientation towards community-based news was something absolutely different from that of national/state news rooms. The journalists at WIN TV (Ballarat) seemed to have established pretty good relationships with those in the community and that’s something I took home – to be able to establish that sort of professional relationship does help getting news stories out much easier.  It was exciting to be seated beside the news anchors watching them read the news for the evening bulletins. It was even more thrilling getting my own demo news reel reading the headlines done.

Unexpectedly, the journalism practice skills I picked up from these placements undeniably helped me in my Journalism Honours year. Many in the journalism field would argue the theory and practice of journalism are distinctly exclusive to one another. However, the skills I gained in regards to researching, interviewing, writing and editing through these placements, especially through my experience at SBS World News Australia Radio, definitely allowed me to pursue journalism production at an advanced level during my Journalism Honours year. Also, my experience at these news rooms allowed me the opportunity to reflect on the practice of journalism and hence, aided in critically reflecting, researching and analysing when crafting my thesis for my Journalism Honours year. Such an experience fulfilled my expectations of the Journalism Honours program at Monash Uni because I enrolled into the Honours program wanting to have a hand at both the theory and practice approach to journalism.

My experience pursuing Journalism at Monash Uni, as a whole, was nothing less than beyond exceptional. The Journalism staff had always been there to inspire, encourage and push when they saw the potential. Throughout my 4 years in the Journalism program at Monash Uni, I’ve seen the program constantly evolving with the ever changing dynamics of the journalism profession – which is of course, to the benefit of students enrolled in the course.  

My Monash Journalism experience has led me to my current role as an editorial intern with The Conversation (an independent source of analysis, commentary and news from the university and research sector), a summer volunteer radio journalist for SYN Radio as well as a freelance journalist occasionally reporting for the Koori Mail (a fortnightly national Indigenous newspaper).

Always:

Aim to have your work published – even as an intern

Engage in all news mediums (i.e. print, TV, radio, online) as a student/intern

Maintain a good rapport/professional relationship with your colleagues from the newsrooms you intern even after the internship/work placement ends.