A partnership between Media Diversity Australia and the Judith Neilson Institute is giving underrepresented voices a greater part in national conversations.
Now in its sixth month, the Community Voices initiative is upskilling participants to enable them to engage in media coverage affecting their communities.
JNI director of education Andrea Ho says the group has met and heard about how news is made from senior media executives from The Australian, the ABC and Nova Entertainment.
“They spoke with different newsroom editors and senior journalists about the way news teams make daily story choices, and heard from communications experts about how to pitch stories into media,” she says.
Each session has practised new skills – writing headlines, points for press releases, mock interviews on camera and in front of their peers, with practising conversational interviews in studio settings.
Project manager and lead trainer Jim Carroll arranged for group members to join the audiences for ABC’s Q&A and Insight programmes, as “up close and personal” with mainstream media as most participants had been.
They have also discussed techniques for managing media and social media from culturally diverse leaders – how to plan for and manage the personal effects of media interaction and a public profile from media trauma experts DART Centre.
Ho says the Community Voices participants have quickly become “in demand” as the news cycle turned. Among them, Amar Singh had been in “high rotation” on the pausing of repatriation flights from India, Joy Adani spoke about women facing domestic violence on Insight, Jeffery Wang appeared on SBS News after Taiwan was excluded from the WHO, and Basim Al Ansari featured in SBS stories on Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdown.
On a happier note, Daniel Gobena spoke about his community’s garden on the ABC’s Gardening Australia, and Amar Singh on community-based disaster relief activities.
Others have had their first media experiences with 2SER and FBi Radio on a range of topics, from Refugee Week to teaching democracy and civics, religious freedoms, mental health in the African community, endometriosis, and migrant support for Reconciliation.
“It’s been exciting to see the Community Voices participants grasp this programme with both hands, and watch them meet and exceed expectations,” says Ho, a 2016 Churchill fellow who joined JNI from the ABC, where she was head of planning for its regional and local division.
“Each session they leave wanting more and return hungry for new experiences, and with each media appearance they cheer each other on.
“I can’t wait to see their progress through the remainder of the programme.”
Pictured: Community Voices participants with Q&A host Hamish Macdonald