Griffith University Journalism graduate Taylah Fellows has defied the recent trend of cutbacks to regional media publications, by snaring an increasingly rare cadetship at new publication scone.com.au
While many regional newspapers are winding up, Taylah recently started her journalism career with a move to the Upper Hunter Valley town of Scone from the Gold Coast to take up the opportunity.
“We’re an online publication. We’ve never been in print. A lot of print places around here have closed within the last five years or so,” Taylah said.
“I think it’s mostly the expense and being able to move online, especially your elderly population, and giving them those skills to be able to access online publications, that was a really important step in moving people towards the online platform, which is where most journalism is probably moving now for affordability.”
Taylah is working full-time reporting local news and making sure her community knows about everything from the local great-grandmother turning 100, to what happened in court, and concerns about how urgently needed road repairs will be funded.
“A lot of people say, `Oh, is there enough news?’ – we get that question a lot,” she said.
“Oh my gosh, there’s too much news sometimes! I feel really lucky that we’re able to serve the community in that way. That’s why I got into journalism.
“It was to be able to address community values, look at social aspects of communities, and see why things are happening, why things make the news.
“It’s one thing to report on negative things that happen that the community needs to know about, but it’s another thing to be able to not miss any information, to not look over anything. Because everyone knows each other, and there’s always a direct effect.”
Taylah said a Griffith University organised overseas exchange gave her the confidence to move to Scone – known as Horse Capital of Australia.
“I did a program called `Europe in the World’ through Griffith as part of my third year of studies,” she said.
“We went overseas, and we spent two semesters abroad. The first semester was in the Netherlands, and the second was in Denmark.
“Griffith really set me up for that. It gave me the foundation. It sent me overseas, threw me in the deep end in a whole world that I wasn’t aware of, talking about Europe. And then to come back here, and then to go to move yet again to regional journalism, I just thought, I’ll just have to go for it. And here I am surviving.
“Reporting overseas really allows you to reflect back onto Australia and Australia’s place in the world.”
She says the training provided in her degree prepared her for the demands of the new digital age of reporting.
“The main message that was brought out in my university training was you need to be able to be adaptable to different platforms if that’s what you’re asked to do,” she said.
“You’ve got to show commitment. You’ve got to differentiate yourself from all the other journalism graduates who are so desperate for their start in the industry as well.”
Taylah said she now realises that she could not have found a better start for journalism career than a regional cadetship, and that the close knit nature of the regional reporting and immediate feedback from her readers is a stark contrast to her experiences elsewhere.
“If you’ve misplaced a fact, or if you’ve done anything that’s not up to scratch, the community will definitely let you know,” she said.
“They will not hold back. But it’s an interesting relationship as well. That kind of communication, it provides you stories.
“You do build a level of trust with the people in your community, and that also then rewards you later on when they come to you and update you about things that you might not have heard about yet. It’s like a fast-track news cycle.”
“It really diversifies your skills. You have to be able to report on different things, sports, politics, court. You will do video reporting. You will live stream. Wherever the story takes you, you need to be able to use your skills in order to enhance that story.
“When you come out to do regional reporting, you will really see how much you can affect a community and how important the media is.
“And that in itself is a large learning curve. That’s really good for any young journalist that’s up and coming or is just starting out.
“All the topics that I’m writing about and the people that I’m meeting and all the different stories that I’ve been able to produce in a matter of weeks, really just shows that I’m going to be able to report on almost anything after I leave here.
“It’s a very satisfying role to play.”
Hear more of Taylah’s story on the Griffith University podcast Remarkable Tales: