An Award for Aspiring Journalists

Keighley Bradford talks to former UON student and 2019 JB Fairfax Award winner Jarrod Sansom about this amazing opportunity for aspiring journalists.

Attn: UON Student Journalists

Applications to The 2021 JB Fairfax Award for Regional and Rural Journalism and Communication are now open and are closing next Sunday 16th August. The prestigious scholarship is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students under the age of 30 who aspire to become regional and/or rural journalists.

The winner of the award not only receives a $10,000 cash scholarship but is also offers practical work experience with internships in ABC’s Brisbane newsroom, ACM’s ‘The Land Newspaper’, and at the RAS’s Media Centre Team for the 2021 Sydney Royal Easter Show. And if you need a little more convincing to apply, in the last four years, three of the four recipients have been UON students, namely Elise Pfeiffer (2017), Katrina Nash (2018), and Jarrod Sansom (2019).

Having just missed out on the Jacoby-Walkley Scholarship in the final stage, Jarrod Sansom applied to the callout for the JB Farifax Award. “[The award] felt like a second chance,” Sansom commented:

“It was even more appealing as there was an opportunity to not only gain valuable experience and advance my career prospects, but also immerse myself in, and contribute to, regional communities… The internships [also] seemed so diverse, covering multiple locations (Sydney, Brisbane and Orange) and multiple forms of media (communication, television journalism, newspaper journalism)”.

It would seem like fate, because Jarrod Sansom’s second chance happened with him also becoming the first male recipient in the award’s thirteen-year long history.

On the experience of being a JB Fairfax Award winner, Sansom noted that it was “enlightening, valuable and exhausting”. Through the internship programs Sansom was able to network and develop some vital professional relationships while working alongside industry professionals such as Pip Courtney, Kerry Lonergan, and Cathie Schnitzerling; and, Samson even got to spend some time with John B Fairfax himself. “[He’s] a really humble and generous man. It’s a privilege to be linked to his name,” Sansom adds, “As a JB Fairfax Award winner, you really get to know a little to a fair bit about a lot of things. The experiences this scholarship gave me cemented the idea that regional and rural communities are the backbone of Australia.”

Of the internships, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, a 12-day straight experience, was described by Sansom as “especially intense. I believe this is why I got so much out of it [though]. I was always on the go and sometimes I didn’t know what I was doing. It was very dynamic and well-rounded”.

Sansom’s role here included coordinating the NSW Country Hour and interviewing the winners of various competitions. Overall, this internship had long hours with limited resources and staff who were on a busy schedule, but it was “very rewarding,” Sansom says.

The ABC Landline internship in Brisbane is where Sansom worked alongside various, well-respected names at ABC. “This was my first time working in a big corporate building, quite different from the regional radio stations I was used to,” Sansom commented. “It was great how the producers began to trust me and, as a result, gave me increasingly important tasks to complete.”

Meanwhile, the Land Newspaper internship in Orange was a week-long experience which opened Sansom view on what his future career could be like. “I always held the assumption that print journalism would not be my thing,” Sansom notes. “When it comes to telling stories, I’ve always preferred the audio-visual. But, as it turned out, I really enjoyed the week I spent in Orange”.

Sansom was interning during ACM’s takeover from Fairfax, and found “things were quite hectic” due to the changes happening at the time. However, Sansom’s role here held a more autonomy then the previous internships.

“I was given a bunch of stories at the start of the week and then got to work immediately…I had no knowledge on the topics I was given to report on. I just did my research, asked a lot of questions and ticked off each article one by one…It was wonderful to learn how they do things in the country”, says Sansom.

For those students interested in applying, Sansom suggests “applicants should stay true to who they are in the application as the committee said they were glad I was the same person in real life as I was on paper. I was authentic and they appreciated that.”

There are several elements of the application – with short statements and a 600 words story (in written, video or audio format) required upon submission of the application. “In the online short answer responses, I encourage participants to communicate the importance of regional and rural Australia and integrate it into their reasons for applying,” Sansom says. In regard to article, he encourages applicants to think about a story which connects with their love for the country, and to also make it a positive one. Sansom proposes for applicants to consider what they can do for rural and regional Australia, and how the scholarship will assist them in progressing to achieve this goal.

Should the applicant process to the interview stage, Sansom’s advice is to learn about the selection committee (whose name should be shared with the finalists), and to also know your original application. “The committee will ask questions which relate to it,” he notes. “For example, I talked about living in a town contaminated by the Defence in one of my online responses and this was the first thing I was asked about in my interview.”

Sansom’s final tip for applicants, “[they] should have a good understanding of the current state of journalism in Australia. I cannot emphasise this enough”. For example, in his interview Sansom was asked: ‘If you were made the boss of a brand new media company today, how would you run it?’ and ‘What do you think the Nine/Fairfax merge means for the future of investigative journalism?’. “Applicants cannot prepare for every question,” Sansom comments, “but they can get their heads around what is happening in the world of journalism”.

For those of you who are undecided whether or not to jump at this opportunity, a final word from Jarrod Sansom:

“The JB Fairfax award put me on the path of success and opportunity. In 2019, I worked in the heart of two capital cities, out west in a rural town and I published stories for TV, radio and print. Widespread industry connections was perhaps the most valuable outcome this award provided [and] [t]he highlight of the internships as a whole was learning about rural life and immersing myself in the country”.

Intrigued? You can view the application process here, or apply for the scholarship here.

For further information, you can visit the RAS website or social media.

Feature Image: Daisy Peachman, Yak Media Designer

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