The Bachelor of Journalism is my other degree. I never thought I would get into it. I got my small portfolio of published pieces in Dolly Magazine, The Daily Advertiser (the newspaper in my hometown) and a magazine in Canada ready, as well as the answers to the two admissions questions ready (why I wanted to be a journalist and the skills I could bring to the profession and to explain what I thought were the main problems facing journalism today) for my admissions interview.
I went into the interview cocky because I thought being published a couple of times in a major Australian magazine and in a magazine in another country would give me an advantage. Whether it did or not I don’t know. In the interview, there were two men and another woman there who turned out to be Dr Marcus O’Donnell (Journalism Convenor), Dr David Blackall (Senior Journalism Lecturer) and Dr Siobhan McHugh (Feature Writing Lecturer). I was also being interviewed with two other prospective students, one of them was Andrew Pearson, from Hay who ended up getting in and being in some of my classes and went on to work at The Daily Advertiser and the other person was a girl who I never saw again.
As the interview progressed, my cocky-ness vanished as I realised I was under prepared, I didn’t read the newspaper everyday like Andrew and the other girl in the interview, I only read news.com.au and Ninemsn occasionally. That interview got me into the habit of reading the newspaper everyday and exploring more news websites. In the interview, the three of us were asked to write a trial story and I completely broke down because I couldn’t think of a story. David took me for a walk and reassured me I could do it. I didn’t completely finish the task, but I did write the start of a story and dot points of ideas on the computer screen in the computer lab we were in. I ran into Siobhan later that day and she gave me a hug.
As we all know, I did end up getting offered the Bachelor of Journalism. Due to my double degree, I only did one journalism subject per session from 2010 to 2012. In my first year I completed Introduction to Journalism with Rosalind Walker and Newsroom Practice with John Burfitt in Autumn and Spring session 2010 respectively. In my second year I completed Feature Writing with Siobhan (that was when I realised she was the nice interviewer who gave me a hug) and Photojournalism with Tom Williams in Autumn and Spring session 2011 respectively. In my third year I completed Convergent Journalism 1 with Siobhan, Aaron Burton (a photographer) and Marcus (I realised then Marcus was in my admissions interview) and Lifestyle & Magazine Journalism with John in Autumn and Spring session 2012 respectively.
In 2013 after finishing my Creative Arts degree, it was the first year I was doing only journalism subjects at once. In my fourth year I did Theory Meets Practice with Marcus and Rosalind, Arts Journalism with John and Journalism Project with David (Journalism Project was the first third year journalism subject I completed and that’s when I found out David was in my admissions interview) in Autumn session and Legal & Professional Issues for Journalists with Professor Stephen Tanner, Design Principles with Angelina Marcon-Jones and Jody Watts, Newsroom 2 Convergence with Shawn Burns and Marcus and Literary Journalism also with Marcus. I didn’t find it as overwhelming as I thought it would be, which is a good sign. But how I’ll handle Newsroom 3 Editing and Production which from what I’ve heard is stressful as well as two Writing for Professional subjects and Design Practice in Autumn session and the Internship subject and Political Journalism in Spring session, remains to be seen.
I’ve learnt so much and achieved way more than I ever could have imagined with the Bachelor of Journalism. I have written so many types of stories–news, features, long-form features as well as completing audio, photographic and video stories, establishing blogs. I have also interviewed many people from all walks of life that I never would have met under any circumstances—bureaucrats, business owners, lecturers, fellow Wollongong residents, even Sharon Bird–the Member for Cunningham. I also photographed the first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard as well as an NBL game. I have learnt so many invaluable skills and have so many great memories from studying journalism, however whether I end up becoming a journalist remains to be seen.
This column originally appeared on Tertangala and can be found here.