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Media industry finds ‘Strength in Connections’

Media industry finds ‘Strength in Connections’

Women in Media WA’s mentoring event reminded aspiring media professionals that “possibilities are endless” in ever-changing media industry, writes Taylah Jones.

‘Don’t wait to be given permission to succeed’ was the key message to be taken from the Women in Media WA’s mentoring and networking event Strength in Connections held at Rosie O’Grady’s on August 28, 2019.

The evening saw about 65 attendees receive advice and inspiration from a panel of media and communication experts, led by Today Tonight reporter and News Fix host Syan Dougherty.

Panellists included ABC Radio Perth Content Director Danielle Benda, The West Australian Assistant Editor and columnist Jenna Clarke, PR firm Cannings Purple Chief Innovation Officer Ruth Callaghan, and ABC News Perth Digital Editor Liam Phillips.

PR firm Cannings Purple Chief Innovation Officer Ruth Callaghan, ABC News Perth Digital Editor Liam Phillips and The West Australian Assistant Editor and columnist Jenna Clarke. Picture: Kenith Png

ABC Radio Perth Content Director Danielle Benda talks to attendees. Picture: Kenith Png

The crowd of both aspiring and seasoned media professionals were advised by the panel that being individual, taking initiative and making the first move were integral to opening doors in the competitive world of journalism.

“Do not ask for permission,” was a point reiterated by Ms Callaghan as she shared her experience of running the University of WA’s student paper Pelican Magazine during her university years.

“The desire to stay ahead of the game is still real for me today,” she said.

“You’ve got to want it more than anyone else in the room,” was advice given by Mr Phillips.

“So many people don’t have initiative and that’s what editors are looking for.”

The importance of having a passion for research and a desire to jump into the unknown was a common theme shared among all panellists.

Setting up for the event. Picture: Kenith Png

The ABC’s Ms Benda advised the audience to “be a sticky beak”.

To conclude the first panel discussion, Ms Clarke lightened the room as she spoke about a racy Valentine’s Day article that she wrote during her time reporting for The Canberra Times.

“The worst thing you can do is dim who you are,” she said.

The panel collectively shared the idea that, in order to succeed in today’s industry, upcoming professionals have to be flexible, willing to learn new skills, and open to travelling to unfamiliar places.

All panellists agreed the best stories come from the “people that you meet in the pub” and by venturing into the unknown.

“Every move in my career has been a leap off a cliff,” Mr Phillips said.

After some one-on-one and group networking discussions, the panel expressed their excitement to see what the next generation had in store for the future of the industry.

The evening was also an opportunity to announce the winner of the Women in Media WA Mentoring Scholarship, an initiative to support and nurture talented women aged under 30 in the WA media industry.

Attendees took the opportunity to network at the event. Picture: Kenith Png

Renowned The Australian reporter and Women in Media WA founding committee member Victoria Laurie declared Pilbara News reporter Alicia Perera to be the recipient of the Women in Media-funded award.

The award included flights to the Gold Coast to attend the national Women in Media Conference from September 13-14.

In a pre-recorded video from her Pilbara home, Ms Perera said that she felt honoured to have been selected for the scholarship and that she had wanted to attend the conference since she first heard about it a few years ago.

“This scholarship is finally going to give me that opportunity,” Ms Perera said.

Ms Perera drew attention to the lack of professional development and networking opportunities within the Pilbara region, and expressed her desire to share the knowledge she gains with other regional journalists.

“I am just planning to make the most that I can out of every aspect of this conference,” she said.

“I am especially looking forward to hearing about the latest big ideas in the profession and also the latest in digital technology given it is so important for journalists these days.”

Committee member Syan Dougherty welcomes delegates. Picture: Kenith Png

The impressive calibre of applicants for the scholarship inspired generous sponsorships from Cannings Purple, the National Indigenous Times and ABC Radio, which enabled Women in Media WA to also send the first and second runners up, Jade Bradford and Laura Meachim, to the conference.

In response to the outstanding amount of worthy scholarship entries, Women in Media WA also proudly announced the commencement of a mentoring program, where nearly 50 scholarship applicants will be paired with an experienced senior mentor.

Ms Laurie described the mentor match to be a dedication to the passing on of knowledge.

Attending students were impressed to see the level of commitment Women in Media WA were investing into the upcoming professionals of the industry.

The tone of the evening was inspirational and informative as it reiterated that possibilities are endless in this ever-changing industry as long as you try hard enough to get them.

Report by Taylah Jones.
Pictures by Kenith Png, a writer and photographer for Grok Magazine, freelance photographer, and an undergraduate photography and journalism student at Curtin University.