Third-year Bachelor of Journalism student Hannah Sbeghen discusses why she’s aiming for a career in news media.
I initially chose international relations and public relations as my majors because I was so captivated by foreign correspondents on TV. I had always found modern history and global politics exciting and I thought being in the centre of what could be the first draft of history would be incredibly self-fulfilling.
I think it was really just the sense of working with a purpose – travelling, finding yourself in a world other than your own, being almost lost in translation and having to interpret what was going on and most importantly freedom of press where people counted on you to tell the story. Journalism felt like a huge responsibility that I wanted to be a part of.
For me, it was really important to choose PR and I’m glad I did because it was the behind the scenes of journalism. Understanding PR is crucial to knowing how to make good journalism – and that’s exactly what I planned to do.
Throughout my degree I have worked in a variety of work experience jobs including being a reporter at the G20 Leaders’ Summit, writing for a property magazine, working on three different community radio stations (even getting my own radio show in the end!), interning as a social media reporter for Griffith Uni, working for Channel 10 and chasing stories for The Courier Mail, Quest Community Newspapers and a regional country newspaper.
University became more fun and exciting after I learnt industry skills, and conversely work experience was more enjoyable when I didn’t have to ask so many questions or wait to be told what to do. From being a pretty shy, introverted person in the first year, I’m very confident now.
Work experience taught me resilience, to be more curious and that classical reporting still mattered. I needed to be polite but strong-minded. I couldn’t let rejection get to me because it would only slow me down. I had to pick up the phone and get the quote as soon as possible because after working for print I learnt the news doesn’t wait around for anyone.
The highlight of my work experience opportunities would have to be the Queensland Reds where for six months I sacrificed my Saturday to be a sideline reporter. This internship taught me more than I could imagine, and not just reporting skills but people skills. How to be relatable, how to get your talent to talk, how to get good audio, what questions do you ask and how to respond to sometimes being objectified as a female sports reporter.
I didn’t give sports reporters enough credit before taking on this challenge but now Channel 9’s Erin Molan is one of my biggest idols and I drop her the occasional tweet. You have to have as much energy as the boys on the field, and by the end of the season I was having so much fun I didn’t want it to end.
I would be driving out to a new football field somewhere around Brisbane every weekend and the contacts I made are the most valuable thing I can take away. When it came to the end, the Griffith radio team were invited to the prestigious Qld Reds gala and I had the opportunity to meet Wallabies stars and be immersed in a world I didn’t know was so extraordinary.
I’ve written a lot for The Source News and still continue to write for Griffith’s very own local, state and international news website. Although I’m not an intern for The Courier Mail I still write feature stories for the Home and Real estate section and get a kick of adrenaline when I open the Sunday paper and see my name.
I use social media a lot in my reporting, and it’s both a curse and a blessing! It’s been the most useful tool I’ve been given but also the worst because news isn’t news anymore when hundreds of people on Facebook have seen it.
When I don’t have a phone number for a source I turn to Facebook or twitter. When I don’t have a story idea I go and look at what everyone’s talking about. I’ve written lots of stories from getting tip-offs from Facebook. It’s people you never met before commenting on an issue they feel passionate about that ends up making it to page one.
Right now my goal is to be a reputable journalist working for a reputable news organisation. I still have a long way to go and so much to learn but I would like to follow my foreign correspondent dream and report from overseas.