Hello fellow Newsspeakers,

I have gladly accepted this opportunity to tell you all about my recent trip to the Gold Coast to attend the annual Women in Media Conference. This year Women in Media WA chose to bring the top three WA entrants along to this incredible event and I was fortunate to have been placed second. I am very thankful to my sponsors, the National Indigenous Times and Cannings Purple who made it possible for me to attend by providing funding for my flights and accommodation. I attended the conference with first place winner Alicia Perera from Karratha and our very own Newspeak alumni Laura Meachim who works for the ABC and is now based in Geraldton. These two ladies were just awesome and we got along so well. And of course, I had the pleasure of tagging along with members of the WA Women in Media committee; Di, Victoria, Syan and Nikkita, such a lovely bunch of ladies, they were so incredibly warm and friendly!

As we gathered on the grounds of Bond University (Yes, BOND UNIVERSITY where it costs $100,000 to study journalism – mind you, it only takes two years to complete the degree, so if you have a lazy $100K laying around…) I started seeing familiar faces; Anita Jacoby, Cath Webber, Emma MacDonald, Karla Grant and (Oh My God!!!) Caroline Jones. It was like one of those fantasies you talk about over a lazy dinner conversation with friends… “if you could spend the day with anyone in the world who would it be?”

Jade with Caroline Jones

We got off and running for the day with the Wonder Women panel which was made up of guest speakers including Michelle Gunn – editor of The Weekend Australian, Sarrah Le Marquand – editor-in-chief of Stellar Magazine, Karla Grant – host of SBS’s Living Black, Bobbi Mahlab – founder of Mahlab and adding extra power to the punch was our moderator, WIM special advisor Marina Go, who is the general manager of Bauer magazines and also the founder of Women’s Agenda. Michelle, Bobbi and Karla all got their start as working journos through cadetships. Michelle said one day during her cadetship she snuck into her editor’s office and read her cadet file. She was devastated to read: “popular but (has) no news sense.” The person who wrote these words later became her mentor and today Michelle is the editor of The Weekend Australian. Sarrah admitted she was torn between becoming a journo, a lawyer or a star in musical theatre. She ended up studying political journalism and after graduating she worked as a switchboard operator at Pacific magazines before landing a job with one of their publications. Sarrah said her career did not run down a straight line by any means, she went down “a lot of crazy paths” before becoming editor-in-chief of Stellar.

Later that afternoon, News Corp’s national Sunday Political Editor Annika Smethurst courageously made her way to the stage. Media lawyer Sophie Scott and 7News Brisbane Crime Editor Paula Doneman joined her for the panel discussion ‘Truth and Trust.’ The wonderful Sandra Sully from 10 News First moderated the conversation which was based upon the importance of press freedom. Back in April 2018, Annika broke a story based on leaked documents, alleging heads of the Defence and Home Affairs ministries were considering allowing the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australians. Although the story was controversial, Annika said she was not overly alarmed when almost a year later the Australian Federal Police announced they would be investigating the leak (as they had on many other occasions before regarding other story leaks). Everything was fine until one morning when Annika was getting ready for work and there was a knock at the door. She opened it to find five AFP officers standing there. Luckily, Annika got on the phone to a lawyer straight away. Newsspeakers if you ever find yourself in this situation (and I really hope you don’t) get on the phone and call a lawyer straight away. If the police take your phone then ask for one – by law you are entitled to seek legal representation. You may brush this off and think it will never be you, but since 9/11 seventy-five laws restricting the disclosure of information have been passed in Australia. Annika now faces 2 – 5 years in prison for publishing a story of public interest. She was so brave to come and share her story with us all. Although she said she wished it had never happened, she said she was happy to see the unity the situation had brought amongst the media industry. This was certainly something the government and the feds had not anticipated.

Please note: there were many other great sessions and workshops in-between on day one but I’m just going over the highlights for now or I could be writing this for days!

Jade's tips...

  • Have a mentor – ideally have two or more so you can get different perspectives.
  • Be a mentor – share your knowledge and build others up J
  • Talk to a careers advisor and people working in the industry.
  • Seek out opportunities – whether it be internships, work experience or temp work, just get out there and get the experience now. Don’t wait until you graduate!!
  • Network, network, network! …and have a business card ready to hand out at events!
  • Know your worth – check the salaries for the positions most relevant to you and also talk to the union.
  • Have a special interest topic – be the go-to person, find out everything there is to know about that topic, put a file together and keep adding to it.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of note-taking. Times, dates and statements, you never know when this information may come in handy.

Day two and the excitement was still bubbling away with the introduction of caffeine, fairy floss (yes, all you-can-eat cottoned sugar) and the breath-taking moments of Caroline Jones walking in and out of the room. Now, Caroline Jones is a huge deal for me as she is for so many journos. When you look at the awards she was won, the contributions she has made and the staggering 50 + years she has served in the industry, it’s just incredible. She entered the media landscape and once in she held her place, keeping the grounds open so that more women could enter newsrooms. Not only that, she has been a mentor and supporter to so many women. Like Caroline I’m a country girl, and her program Australian Story caught my attention when I was about seven or eight. Every Sunday, I would sit and watch the program and would admire Caroline’s effortless elegance on the screen. I will forever admire her because from there my passion for listening to people’s stories and writing started taking hold.

Anyway, where was I… oh yeah, day two… we had a panel discussion about social media, titled Social Scene. We had the lovely Tracey Spicer (no further introductions, she is just awesome) to moderate the conversation and panel members including SBS journalist and host Jan Fran, radio personality Bianca Dye, photographer and content creator Jules Ingall and of course, Ginger Gorman who is a journalist and author of the book “Troll Hunting.” During the session, the ladies openly discussed their experiences with online trolls, how to better manage your online presence and also being aware of the risks associated with operating your business on social media. Jules said she had built her business on Instagram, but lost it all to hackers. Although she did eventually get her account back, she said she has learned a hard lesson from it and that is to not become reliant on social media. Jan added that SBS’s The Feed was getting heaps of views on Facebook up until one day when they changed the algorithm. This resulted in the videos only receiving one fifth of the views they were getting previously. All the panel women agreed social media should be more controlled but with social media platforms making billions from our data (the most valuable asset in world, its worth more than oil!) they are hesitant to stop cyber hate. It’s simply because they are making too much money from it. And when it comes to cyber hate women are three times more likely than men to be attacked online for expressing their opinions.

One of the last sessions I attended was definitely one that benefited every woman in the room, it was called: Stop multitasking, why it bad for you and how to stop it. Only 2% of the population can multitask (and if you’re thinking “oh that’s me,” statistically speaking, no its probably not you). We see multitasking as an efficient way to get things done but shifting between tasks can actually cost you up to 40% of your productive time. Multitasking causes bad memory, you become less creative and get distracted more easily. Put simply, multitasking makes you dumber. But it can be hard to stop, it seems we live in a society where stress has become a part of our lives.  A study showed people would say they are not stressed but when their cortisol levels were checked, they were very high.

How do we stop multi tasking?

  • Do one thing at a time
  • Make a “a stop doing” list
  • Say no
  • Be present
  • Get it out of your head (distractions)
  • Be realistic when scheduling
  • Don’t split your attention

Since returning home from the trip I started implementing the above tips straight away. Attending the WIM conference has been one the best experiences of my life and so beneficial for me. I met some incredible women who were so kind and supportive and I have been keeping in contact with them since the conference. I feel better prepared to enter the industry, I’m aware of things to look out for and I feel like I know myself better which has lifted my confidence. I strongly encourage every Newsspeaker to get out there and apply for opportunities like this. You might doubt you’ll be chosen (like I did) but how will you know unless you try. I would also like to share with you all a list of tips and advice I have received over the past couple of years and found really helpful during my degree:

Jade (left) with all others from WA who attended