Former broadcaster and Veteran Journalist Kerry O’Brien told Griffith Journalism graduate Melissa Maykin that the time had come for Indigenous constitutional recognition and calls for a strong and independent press at Integrity 20 in Brisbane. Image: Isabella Porras

A group of inspired Griffith Communication and Journalism students immersed themselves in a real-life newsroom, during the three-day Integrity 20 conference.

Integrity 20 gathers remarkable people from Australia and around the world to discuss some of our greatest social, moral and political challenges.

During this intensive experience, Griffith students were able to enhance their skills enormously, learning ‘on the job’, interviewing speakers that are globally renowned for their excellent work and thinking in diverse sectors – philosophers, artists, entrepreneurs, politicians – both emerging and established.

Students interviewed the likes of the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and international criminal law expert Judge Navi Pillay’s about the future of human rights, Veteran journalist Kerry O’Brien about media freedom, Award-winning British journalist and historian Misha Glenny about the global criminal underworld and many more.

The group was mentored by Griffith staff members, including Chief of Staff Nance Haxton, who is a Griffith University Lecturer and award-winning journalist.

She said she knew the students would step up to the tasks as emerging media professionals, during the event.

Athena Zelandonii interviews Judge Pillay, who was instrumental in establishing rape and sexual abuse as potential acts of genocide, and she continues to advocate for free and equal rights and justice for all. Image: Isabella Porras

“I know now after doing this style of pop-up newsroom a few times how powerful it is for the students taking part,” Nance said.

“They start not really knowing the structure of a newsroom or that they are expected to find their own stories using their own initiative and by the end of the experience they puff up proudly looking back on the amazing interviews they’ve done.

“I see my role as almost giving permission – encouraging students to go forth and use the skills they have – take them out of the lecture theatre. I like to think of it as giving them wings to fly.”

Nance believes the students were able to draw on skills gained through your academic learning and in the lecture theatres to enhance their practical experience at Integrity 20.

“Without the backing of a good sound knowledge of media ethics and media law, it’s impossible to be a competent journalist,” Nance said.

Griffith student Lia RN interviews Integrity 20 audience member. Image: Isabella Porras

“However, that knowledge is wasted if you’re not encouraged and enabled to go out and apply what you’ve learnt by actually reporting stories of worth.

“That only comes by taking students out of the lecture theatre once they know the basics.”

The Dual Walkley Award winner said it is vital for communication students to gain real life experiences, to be able to get their foot in the media industry door.

“They learn the lingo that journo’s use, they learn the structure of the newsroom and how they are expected to refer problems up,” Nance affirmed.

“I’ve had wonderful feedback from a few students that their real-life internships in newsrooms were so much easier because they knew the structure and what was expected of them before they got there, because they’d experienced it in the pop-up newsroom environment.

Griffith Communication and Journalism student Ben Harden interviews Matthew Condon who chaired the panel about press freedom and the fourth estate in Australia. Image: Isabella Porras

“That’s a real edge that Griffith students have.”

This is the fifth year, Griffith students have showcased their skills and expertise and gained invaluable experience of a pop-up newsroom and media centre at the Griffith University Conservatorium at South Bank.

Seizing experiences like this, were not only immensely rewarding, butgave the student’s CV’s and their portfolio’s the cutting edge for future employment in the communication industry.

A few students who participated in the newsroom shared their Integrity 20 experience:

“I’m in my final year of study for the Bachelor of Journalism and taking part in the newsroom for the Integrity 20 conference was absolutely a highlight and honestly, a privilege. Being part of a popup newsroom is a fun and exciting way to apply what you’ve been learning and to learn and adapt in real time. Not to mention the opportunity to be exposed to and to interview incredible people with truly phenomenal careers and important ideas; it was a really rewarding experience.” – Athena Zelandonii

“I study Public Relations and Communications. I really enjoyed working at the integrity 20 newsroom, it definitely felt like a professional, industry experience. Highlight would definitely be my video interview and working the panel.” — Faith Stolz

“Working at Integrity20 was an enriching experience. Of course, working in a newsroom required constant hard work, but the buzzing energy and motivation of the students and lecturers on the team made it incredibly worthwhile. As a student in the Bachelor of Social Science (majoring in ‘Media Communication and Social Change’), I was looking for an opportunity to gain journalism industry skills. Interning with The Source News was perfect for this, I acquired expertise in radio production, video broadcast and article writing. I am now able to say that I have published work, thus broadening and strengthening my career options.” — Lia RN

“I have just finished my second year of studying a Bachelor of Photography at QCA. Taking part in Integrity 20 was a valuable experience working together with the journalism students taking photographs of all the interesting speakers and panels. The highlight for me was the media freedom panel discussion as it was interesting to hear journalists’ first-hand perspectives on the state of free speech in Australia today.” – Isabella Porras

More confident and better prepared to enter the work force, the students now have industry standard interviews and stories to take with them into the communication industry.

The students’ stories and their informative interviews from the Integrity 20 conference can be found on The Source News Website or on The Source News Facebook and twitter page.

By Ben Harden, Bachelor of Communications student