an exploration of the experience of young reporters and women journalists working in rural and regional Western Australia
By isobella boros and georgia clark
We explore why that is and what to look out for.
Further, as two journalism students about to graduate, we are delving into the trials and tribulations faced by regional and rural journalists–especially for women.
Working in the regions could be a positive stepping stone for a long career in media, however, there are some concerns such as gaining trust of the locals, working long hours, isolation, and dealing with gender dynamics in the workplace.
To gain insight into working in regional areas, Bella and I spoke to three successful journalists.
Kate Ferguson is a multi-media journalist and has worked for ABC News, Channel 7 and is current board member of Women in Media.
Jesinta Burton is a business journalist for WAtoday and has previously worked for FairFax Media and Channel 9.
Jakeb Waddell is the current Sports Editor for The West Australian and The Sunday Times, he previously was the South West Editor.
All three of these journalists began their careers in the regions and say they would not change a thing.
Featured right: Original photographs by Georgia Clark, showcasing the incredible landscape in the regions.
Georgia Clark reporting for ECU Vanguard News.
MEAA produced a regional journalism report which brought to light the concerning lack of funds for regional news outlets. Among other facts and figures, it was discovered that 44% of regional journalists earn less than $50,000 a year.
Due to a lack of funding and the struggle to get journalists out into the regions, teams in rural areas are usually quite small. This means that instead of focusing on a specific area and developing your skillset, as tends to happen in a city news outlet, in the regions you must cover multiple areas. It is quite possible that one day you are doing court reporting, then crime, then sport, then hard news as well as filing and editing your own pieces.
Working in a small town where everyone knows everyone can be either a struggle or a benefit.
Once you have been accepted into the community then you have a strong network that can be used for finding stories but also as a support system in an isolated area.
However, when journalists are potentially only staying in town for a year to gain experience before returning to the city, making those initial relationships can be difficult.
The outback is home to fascinating history and compelling stories. Patroni’s guest home, entirely made of corrugated iron (c. 1920), in the ghost town of Gwalia, shire of Leonora, Western Australia, catered for single goldminers. Photo by ‘Hans’ via Adobe Stock.
Working in regional areas that can be a located over a day’s drive from the city or potentially even a flight away can be isolating for new regional journalists. Adjusting to a new job in a new place with a lack of support systems can be challenging. With the struggles of working long hours on the job it can also be difficult to reach out and maintain family/friend relationships in the city and also create new ones.
When you’re working in a team in regional areas, that team can be as small as two people. This means you are finding the story, filming/writing the story, taking your own photographs, filing, and editing the piece all on your own which can take up a lot of time. Potentially, as the only news journalist in the town, it also means that if you don’t cover something then no one will. Which can result in journalists working up to 12 hour days.
Business Journalist at WAtoday
Isobella Boros reporting for ECU Vanguard News
Sports Editor for Seven West Media