Why journalism is one of the world’s best jobs

Journalism student Alfred Chan
Journalism student Alfred Chan.

Masters journalism student Alfred Chan seized his chance to enjoy a successful internship at The Age newspaper. Alfred shares his views on why journalism is one of the best jobs in the world.

Interning at The Age’s newsroom was wonderful experience which opened my eyes to the ups and downs of journalism.

It provided me with the opportunity to work with some of Australia’s most decorated journalists and editors, while getting on-the-job experience beyond anything than can be achieved in a classroom.

During my 10-day internship, I was given the opportunity to source and develop my own stories whilst also given leads from the news desk to follow-up and report on.

Taking into account my past experience, I was also given the opportunity to work with the sports desk where I was given the opportunity to attend and report press conferences with high-profile athletes.

Getting the chance to meet and interview Chris ScottNathan LyonJames PattinsonBrad HodgeVictoria Azarenka reaffirmed my belief that being a sports journalist is one of the best jobs in the world.

Going into the internship, my experience in reporting sport would be useful but I made the conscious decision to expand into other areas of news.

I got that chance in probably the last place I would have expected – health.

One afternoon while dilly-dallying on Twitter looking for a story, I came across a press release by the department of health regarding a measles alert.

Noticing it had slipped past the news desk’s attention, I alerted an editor and traced it back to the Philippines.

Like any newsroom, it wasn’t all fun and games and it was good to see a few slow news days to learn what professional journalists do when not much is happening.

The surprising amount of social media shares and comments a story about Melbourne taxi fares achieved showed me how different my perception of news can be from others.

One of the many highlights of the fortnight was being asked to report on breaking news, as it happened from the scene.

After the news desk received a tip about protesters picketing in Collingwood, I don’t think even the editors expected the event to transpire into a story which rival newspapers would run on their front page the next day.

As the first reporter on the scene, I witnessed police engaging with protesters and the Alexandra Parade roadblock.

I was subsequently amazed by how other news outlets dramatised the event in their reports.  I learned a crucial lesson about journalistic integrity.

The internship ended with mixed feelings. While investigating the measles scare earlier in the week, a source alerted me to declining immunisation rates against measles and I decided to investigate further.

I got in contact with a few people at the centre of the issue and started writing a feature on alarming statistics I had uncovered about the increasing amount of Melbourne parents opting not to vaccinate their children.

I was informed there was a lot of interest in the story and the editors would like to run it in The Sunday Age and my eyes lit up.

After writing the feature-length story with expert sources, graphic quotes and sending a photographer out to capture the accompanying image I had envisioned, I was surprised by the editing of the story to remove critical information and quotes yet still pleased to see The Sunday Age run it on page two.

Being such a controversial issue and knowing so when I wrote it, I knew there would be backlash despite being filed as a balanced story.

When working in the public space, it came as no surprise that backlash ensued from activist groups on both sides of the issue through social media but the debate was ignited and people were engaging in serious discussions.

To have achieved 15 by-lines and three taglines published by The Age in both print and online media were a pleasant reward.

While it may have been easy to sit around and wait for a lead, these internships are really what the intern makes of them.

I have previously completed internships in other fields where a program is set in place but due to the frenetic action of a newsroom, such structure is not possible which was why it worked out so well.

Rather than being shown what they want you to see, The Age provided a transparent view of life as a journalist and that is something no textbook or classroom will teach me.

I greatly appreciate Monash journalism’s efforts in maintaining good relationships with Melbourne’s newspapers to give Monash students the wonderful experience I had with The Age and look forward to the next one.