What drives people in the media to do what they do? What gets journalists and broadcasters out of bed in the morning? How did they land their dream job? What pieces of wisdom can they impart? What can you learn from them?
The Media Talks panel, held on August 30th at Rokeby Studios in Collingwood, Melbourne, features Sarah Wilson, journalist, blogger and TV host, Auskar Subarti, ABC journalist, Megan Miller, Herald Sun Features Writer, Darren Rowse, Problogger, Rachel Moor, Television Executive Producer and Faustina Agolley, TV Presenter.
The brainchild of Faustina Agolley, Media Talks will offer attendees with the chance to have their questions answered, to be inspired, and to walk away with real and honest knowledge on the Australian media industry.
In the meantime, whet your appetite and feed your mind as we chat to the panel of Media Talks to find out what makes them tick.
1. What gets you out of the bed in the morning?
Auskar: I’d like to say the promise of a new day, but in reality: a strong coffee!
Megan: My love of writing. You draft the Qs, do the interview, transcribe it, then you have to craft it, make it sing and do right by your subject.
Sarah: I usually wake up excited and with a pretty good map in my mind of what I want to do for the day. I write a list the night before of what I want to do the next day, so I get up with a plan. However, before I do anything, I exercise. Always. I don’t eat, check emails, wash or anything. I put on shorts, a sports bra and move. I run, swim, surf, hike or do yoga. So the unbridled joy of moving my body and being outdoors in nature is what gets me up and out.
Darren: Two answers:
Literally – it is one of my 3 boys – usually to show me a Lego invention that they’ve been working on since 5am.
Figuratively – I’m passionate about 3 things:
- helping people to achieve their potential and to live life the full
- building community
Everything I do tends to revolve around these things.
Faustina: Living and working with purpose and being around positive people.
Rachel: Kids going crazy and exercise!
2. What were you doing when you were 16?
Auskar: At 16, I was like any other teenager, except that I actually enjoyed high school! I was an unusual hybrid of super geek (and proud!) as well as a mild sportsman. I wanted time to slow down and speed up at the same time – I was eager to see what life would bring after high school, yet I was anxious about it at the same time and didn’t want high school to end. I was slowly figuring out what I wanted to study at university: I was able to rule out anything involving maths and sciences, as envious as I was of people who excelled in those areas, and I knew that my strengths lay in the written and spoken word. Now, where to channel those skills…
Megan: I was in Year 11 in Perth, loving writing, loving English Lit, keeping an angst-ridden journal, wishing I was a back-up singer on tour with my favourite band
Pearl Jam, and making some very bad fashion choices. I knew I wanted to be a journo so I was also looking into which uni course was the best, and working towards getting a TEE (VCE) score to ensure I got in.
Faustina: It would have been a year following my trip around the world with my family and having visited Ghana for the first time (I’m half Ghanian but didn’t connect with the African side of my heritage up until that point) my perspective on life changed completely and I was instantly grateful for everything I had in my life in suburban Melbourne. I knew from then that anything that I wanted to bring into my life was possible.
My grades picked up. I would have loved studying Geography more than ever. I kept lots of old habits – I was listening to commercial radio and watching a lot of music TV and was really into the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “The Secret World of Alex Mack”. I would have gone to my first rock gig – the Chili Peppers.
I loved helping out the local St. Vincent De Paul charity shop, attended the Edmund Rice Leadership Camp to help kids in need and felt so revived from the experience, I knew that giving back was important. My health was improving at lightening speed – I had chronic asthma and eczema that I tackled with Eastern Medicine – to the point that I could join my school’s track team (yay to less Ventolin!). I was a late bloomer in school. Life was rapidly changing, and for the better.
Darren: The year was 1988 and I was in Year 11 at High School and studying hard (when I wasn’t playing tennis). I had orange hair, big gold rim glasses and didn’t know how to talk to girls. I was definitely a nerd. I had always had entrepreneurial dreams since being a child (when I was a kid I always had a little business selling something to classmates or neighbours) and so was working towards studying Marketing at RMIT after I finished school. I had also recently saved up and bought myself my first SLR camera and was spending every cent I had buying film and paying for processing while I practiced my photography.
Sarah: Hmmm, I was living in the country on a subsistence-living farm with my four siblings (the fifth was yet to be born). I was frustrated as all hell, wanting to do more, bored by school, by people my own age, unable to leave the goat farm on weekends. Halfway through my seventeenth year, the family went broke and we moved into town and I started modelling that year and was working three jobs. I loved working.
Rachel: Aside from partying, I was exploring courses and work experience to help me get on my career path.
3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your career?
Auskar: No man is an island! Working in the media is a collaborative effort and achieving the best outcome is always a team effort. I think we like to believe that we can do it all ourselves but the reality is, the best work is always done with other talented people around you.
Megan: If in doubt, leave it out. If you can’t verify something, back it up or check it, get rid of it. It will most likely come back to bite you on the bum.
Sarah: Opportunities come when you’re in the middle of doing what you do well. Work hard and passionately, do what you do well, and you will be noticed. I didn’t apply for my job as editor of Cosmopolitan, as an example. In fact, I’d never have thought of editing a women’s mag and had never in my life read Cosmo. I was happily writing for a Melbourne newspaper magazine, writing extra columns in my spare time. Cosmo’s publisher read my columns and asked to meet me in Sydney. After a few chats, I was invited to edit the magazine (it was a slightly longer story than that, but only slightly).
Darren: Try to build a career around your passions, values and core beliefs. Your working life spans decades and it is difficult to sustain and motivate yourself over the long haul unless you’re energised by what you are doing. As they say – ‘life’s too short’ – fill it with things that matter to you!
Faustina: The simple adage, which is translates to everyday life – treat others how you’d like to be treated. Just because you’re on the payroll that comes with a public profile doesn’t mean you treat the crew that you work with any differently. I’ve witnessed other people’s livelihoods crash and burn because they’ve been horrible to others, the talent was there but blinded by ego (in other words, insecurity).
Rachel: Never take anything for granted. Listen to advice from your peers and take their perspective on board. I’ve also learnt that anything worth succeeding in is never easy- you have to be strong and committed to your goals and aspirations for your life path, and guaranteed if you do it will pay off .
4. What’s one piece of advice you can impart to anyone wanting to forge a career in the media industry?
Auskar: Hard work always pays off! Shortcuts may be tempting, but in the end, it’s the hard yards that will yield the best results, sometimes not straight away, but always in the end!
Megan: Do it. Do what you love – whether that’s the writing side, the people-meeting side. The world will always need good writing no matter the medium.
Sarah: Blog. Just write. Get your “art” out there. Online is best for this…an amazing opportunity to both practice the craft and to advertise your wares. If I were an editor today, I wouldn’t take anyone seriously unless they had an outlet for their writing that I could view.
Rachel: Take every opportunity you can to earn your stripes in the business, but never SELL OUT or lose sight of what you wanted to achieve in the media industry. Remember what attracted you to the profession first and foremost and the rest will follow.
Faustina: Passion first and foremost. If you’re in it for other reasons, for example, purely for attention (especially in TV) I think you’ll be left feeling incredibly unfulfilled. And it’s not all glamourous. For example my previous job at Video Hits was 90 per cent desk job – research, meetings etc. A lot of people didn’t seem to get that but I LOVED it and the other 10 percent that went with it.
Darren: Gather as many experiences and skills as you can. I look back on where I am today and realise that it is completely shaped by the last 40 years of life and the experiences that I’ve had.
- Those early ‘businesses’ that I had as a kid taught me so about what I was good at and about working with customers.
- The trips I took overseas in my late teens shaped my worldview and gave me a sense of adventure.
- Stepping out of my comfort zone to do public speaking training as a 17 year old helped me discover a passion.
- Investing time into learning photography ended up giving me an appreciation for design and creativity – and also led me to start a photography website that is now my main source of income.
- The numerous part time jobs I had as a teenager working under different bosses while I studied at university shaped how treat my own staff today.
The list could go on. I’m a big believer in getting yourself out of your comfort zone to try new things because you’ll draw on those experiences over and over again in your career and life.
5. What do you love about the Australian media industry?
Rachel: How small it is! I’m always amazed at how many people you cross paths with again and again in different roles and productions. It’s an ever-changing beast and most people stay on for the ride of their professional life.
Auskar: Looking at the TV industry specifically, I love how spoilt for choice we are for a country of our size. As well as the commercial networks, we have two excellent, and relatively well-funded public broadcasters– a country like the United States barely has one! And both the ABC and SBS have largely been able to operate outside the influence of the government of the time, despite being funded by them. It’s easy to take the two broadcasters for granted, but I think we have to remind ourselves that we’re quite lucky to have them both.
Megan: The camaraderie, especially at the moment given the current climate of job cuts etc.
Sarah: Right now I love that it’s being forced to return to good journalistic principles. The industry is going through a massive shift. But, you’ll notice, the people who are surviving are those with something to say and good, basic journalistic skills. The frauds are just not lasting. This is a great thing and I think the future will be exciting and ever-shifting.
Darren: I love that we’re seeing more and more opportunities for independent individuals and groups to rise up and create their own media. We’re living in an exciting time!
6. What do you loathe about it?
Rachel: Again, how small it is!
Faustina: I try to avoid what I loathe. And I believe in people power and people creating shifts in industries especially when they’re not going as well. Like any industry, the media industry can only be good as the people that are in it. We need to maintain good intentions and creativity. When the people embody it the work does too. Good always prevails anyway.
Sarah: The pockets where dinosaur principles are still in place. TV is shocking for it. I found TV a very stifling place to be, especially as a woman in her late thirties. I’m not surprised it’s suffering so badly. But it will adjust…and for the better.
Auskar: I think we often fall into the trap of being too parochial. Of course what happens in Australia and to Australians is important, but we should also balance that interest with what happens beyond of our backyard. The same goes for events that happen overseas. You often find that some coverage is preoccupied with the ‘Australian angle’ i.e. what happens to Australians and Australia’s interests during these particular events. Again, while this is important, it should be balanced with the broader story.
To register for Media Talks, a free event, click here.