In February 2023, I took on the role of Editor-in-Chief of RMIT's only independent student-run paper.
Tasked with reviving the publication post pandemic, I have poured my blood, sweat and tears into getting this student initiative, established in 2019 by the Journalism Society, back on its feet. I created an entirely new website (whilst preserving all old articles from previous years); organised a new logo and branding aesthetic; created an updated system of submitting and editing via Slack and Trello; recruited and allocated a team of editors and contributors; managed and edited articles both for online and print; created content for social media.
Together with my co-Editor-in-Chief for semester two Grace Frost, we put together the paper's first print edition since 2020. Grace led the production of edition #1, doing all the design work herself and printing at the The North Central Review where she works as a journalist. We learnt a lot from this process, and so for edition #2 which I led the production of, I outsourced design skills by organising a collaboration with RMIT design students who worked incredibly hard to bring this edition to life. I also initiated a partnership with Bowen Street Press who provided guidance and resources that led to edition #2 being professionally printed. In 2024, this partnership will be further developed and we will hopefully have the help of students from the Masters of Publishing course.
As we are a volunteer student paper with limited funding, we took initiative to organise sponsored pieces that helped make our print editions possible. For edition #1, former editor and contributor Jemma Van Zaanen organised a sponsored article with ACMI's 'Goddess' exhibition. I then managed a sponsorship with Elvis: A Musical Revolution for edition #2. The theatre production kindly provided us with free tickets to the opening night, which the writer and myself attended. We also coordinated a giveaway with a further two tickets provided, of which a lucky TSG reader had the pleasure of winning.
Training & workshops
As many of The Swanston Gazette's contributors are first-year journalism students or creative writing students, I have had to provide training and guidance for many of our published pieces. This experience has been invaluable in developing and enriching my own skills. However, as a student myself, I have been hoping to organise workshops for TSG writers (and myself!) With much of 2023 being focussed on getting TSG back up and running, these workshops will now be happening in 2024. RMIT journalism lecturers have agreed to host some, as well as the founder of The Jolly Times.
Going into 2024, I will continue as Editor-in-Chief for semester one, alongside Grace Frost who will assist me as Managing Editor. We will run a mentorship-styled program where we will train second-year journalism students to take over management of the paper in semester two.
In the lead up to the Voice referendum, I wrote an explainer article that was published online and featured in print edition #2. It broke down the basics about the referendum process and proposed question, whilst also featuring interviews with local Victorian Indigenous leaders from either side of the debate - Djaran Murray-Jackson of the First People's Assembly of Victoria, and President from the Black People's Union Keiran Stewart-Assherton.
Amidst an influx of misinformation and biased, it was important to me that our publication featured an in-depth journalism piece about this historical event. I was also aware that many students and young people did not understand the referendum process or the concept of the Voice itself, so I endeavoured to write a simple and concise piece that would allow students to make an informed decision when voting.
In January 2023, I completed a six-week intensive program in Jakarta, Indonesia. The first two weeks involved daily Bahasa language classes, seminars and tutorials hosted by some of the country's leading media professionals. The remaining four weeks of the program were spent interning at a local media organisation.
I had the pleasure of being hosted by Amnesty International Indonesia for my work experience. Under the guidance of my mentor, I learnt mostly from the campaigning team but was warmly welcomed by everyone in the office. I attended meetings with other NGOs and a focus group discussion with activists and victims of human rights abuses.
Now, having returned to Australia, I am still working on projects that utilise the knowledge and skillset I have gained on this incredible opportunity. With the guidance of my former mentors at Amnesty, I am in the process of organising a fundraiser event that will feature Indonesian musicians, artists and speakers living in Melbourne, to raise money for Jakarta Legal Aid, an NGO that is working incredibly hard on the ground in Indonesia. I will also write an article to provide context for the event, using interviews I conducted whilst in Jakarta and since returning to Australia. I expect to host the event in February or March 2024.
ACICIS Social Media Ambassador
During my time in Jakarta, I volunteered as an ACICIS Social Media Ambassador where I made weekly video-logs posted on Instagram. These videos are rough and at times a little silly, but I wanted to use them as an exercise to get over the discomfort that comes with doing piece to cameras, and to begin familiarising myself with documentary-style videography. I began with the intention of doing two per week, but after the first week, I realised this was a difficult task to complete alongside the demanding program. From week two, I made one video per week where I showed highlights from the program and tried to demonstrate the diverse life of Jakarta.