It is rare but welcome for mid-career journalists to be able to pause the demands of daily deadlines and invest some time in professional development.
In May, 14 journalists undertook a three-day reporting fellowship to expand their cross-country knowledge, and make expert and industry contacts between the two countries. Each had an eye to possible stories now, and future career prospects.
The Australian journalists came from a range of media organisations, including The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, The Australian, Guardian Australia, AAP, ABC and SBS. The Malaysian participants came from The Star, Astro AWANI, The Daily Express, Sinar Daily and Sin Chew Daily.
The Australia-Malaysia Virtual Reporting Fellowship gathered the journalists in two groups, one in Sydney and one in Kuala Lumpur, joining them via video-conferencing into a single virtual room. There, the Fellows heard briefings from speakers in both countries, experienced virtual tours, and were mentored in subject matter and reporting craft.
The peers also exchanged information and ideas on hot button issues such as press freedom, and reporting on recent and upcoming elections. Fellows are encouraged to produce original journalism arising from the three day Fellowship, and already ideas are forming. The contacts they have made over the Fellowship will deepen connections between both countries, and expand the breadth and nuance of reporting by all involved.
The Australia-Malaysia Virtual Reporting Fellowship was a joint project of the Judith Neilson Institute and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, dovetailing into their respective interests in journalism in the Asia and Pacific, and the Australia Now program.