Jschool grads tell how journalism college changed their lives

Many Jschool graduates made submissions to the Education Department’s review of approved courses for student loans last year.   In supporting the inclusion of journalism, the graduates told a little of their own stories.

At Jschool we were very much heartened by the support of our graduates, and very pleased at their success stories since studying our course.

Here are extracts from some of their submissions:

Following the completion of a Diploma of Journalism at Jschool Journalism College (Brisbane) in 2012, I was successful in gaining employment as a journalist with News Corp, a position which thousands of university graduates failed to achieve.

Jschool, and particularly the reputation of its founder and director John Henningham, was held in such high regard that I was given the opportunity to interview for the graduate program with the Courier-Mail – an intensive program that was limited to an intake of just six graduates from across Australia.

Out of the 2013 cohort of graduate journalists, two (including myself) had completed the Diploma of Journalism through Jschool. It was often stated in the newsroom that the Diploma gave students a far greater understanding of journalism than most degrees, due to its focus on providing students with a high level of practical skills and on-the-job experience.

In my opinion, there is no better qualification than a Diploma of Journalism for those wanting to enter the field. While I have  now gone on to explore other opportunities outside of the newsroom, I believe it is because of my journalism experience that I have acquired senior communications roles.

I will always be thankful for the role John Henningham and Jschool have played in my career. The Diploma of Journalism is vital in preparing younger generations for their careers in the news media and related fields – and indeed, most areas of expertise now expect and demand high levels of communication skills.

Melissa Archer

I undertook a Diploma of Journalism at JSchool in mid-2014 and gained a full-time journalism cadetship with the Australian Regional Media’s daily newspaper, the Fraser Coast Chronicle, in April 2015. I worked for the Fraser Coast Chronicle, based in Hervey Bay, in a full-time, permanent ongoing basis for more than a year.

My studies with Jschool led directly to my employment at the Fraser Coast Chronicle.

Journalism studies at either a diploma or bachelor level are a prerequisite to gaining journalism cadetships and my studies with Jschool helped me immeasurably in securing the position at the Fraser Coast Chronicle.

I found my experiences with Jschool to be positive and would encourage others who are focused on pursuing a career in journalism to study through JSchool.

The diploma offered at Jschool takes only one year to complete and the help provided is personal because of the smaller class sizes. I found the Jschool course practical as it focused on developing the skills needed to be a journalist, which included news writing, conducting interviews, short-hand and photography.

Lessons on the court system and court reporting were also delivered, amongst other content.

I would encourage the Education Department to include the Jschool diploma of journalism on the approved VET course list as it meets industry needs, equips aspiring journalists with appropriate skills and has strong employment outcomes.

I think unbiased reporting can help serve the public by keeping them informed and do consider journalism to be a high priority.  Studies at Jschool are not politically aligned. The lessons delivered in the Jschool diploma of journalism are focused entirely on developing basic reporting skills, which as mentioned previously, include news writing, conducting interviews, shorthand and photography.

Hannah Baker

I completed the course in 2009 and gained immediate full employment in the media industry.

The skills and experience I gained from the course provided indirect economic benefit to three small regional towns in South Australia and has since assisted me to provide my high level skill set within positions at state government level, here in Victoria.

The skills and aptitude gained from Jschool has equipped me and many other of its graduates to position themselves and provide value within an ever changing and service based oriented workforce here in Australia. To argue that the Diploma of Journalism does not offer in-demand skills in 2016, when the immediate future of Australia involves information economies and trade online is a severe understatement.

The Diploma of Journalism does not just provide an avenue in to the white collar profession of Journalism but equips students with a raft of communication skills that are currently offered at other high paying and charging tertiary institutions.

I myself have leveraged the qualification and experience gained from Jschool to obtain a HECS based position of equal if not more expensive value at a tertiary institution. The skills and qualification I possess are viewed as highly valuable.

Brett Barfoot

I took a Diploma of Journalism at Brisbane’s small, independent, but highly esteemed reporter training program called Jschool.

In each of the department’s own categories of concern, Jschool has proven itself invaluable.

First, it trains students for a career that is an indisputable public good. Second, it does so by training them invaluable, practical skills that are no longer developed by courses at other institutions. Third, it has disproportionately superior vocational outcomes for its students for a school of its size and resources.

As a graduate, I can say Jschool helped me progress in my career far faster than otherwise – I shaved two years of study time to get trained compared to a three year journalism course, not to mention how quickly I advanced in my career in my later thanks to their targeted skills they trained me in years ago.

And employers agree. Directly upon graduation, I was recruited to full-time employment at a major metropolitan newspaper with News Limited, whose graduate program has a history of taking the top few students each year from my course into its annual 10-person graduate trainee program. This is an astounding record for a diploma course with something like just 25 students each year compared to graduates of similar courses at the major universities.

More than 60% of Jschool’s graduates have gone into jobs as full-time journalists in newspapers and media institutions across Australia, according to Jschool’s own data and I would say my own experience and those of students I knew in years before mine roughly matches this statistic. (By contrast, the comparative figure for university journalism graduates is only about 20%.)

Jschool taught me crucial job skills that are no longer emphasized by major universities such as shorthand notetaking, how to cover council and court sessions, regularly writing, pitching, and publishing articles, all with a heavy emphasis on workplace internships that greatly equipped me to go directly into full-time employment in a demanding job.

Jschool is a much-needed alternative to the horrendously-run degree factories at the major universities. These large, anonymous courses offer little support to students and the coursework peddles little more than abstract theories to their students rather than the practical skills outlined above. If the government is looking to cut useless subsidies to programs that show little proof of purpose, it could well start with courses like these at the “Sandstone universities” instead. The Jschool program is not the problem, but in every way, a much-needed corrective to the waste your department is trying to tackle.

Today, I cover the finance sector, and regularly write stories that break news ahead of major business news outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Bloomberg. I would not have been able to pick up the skills needed for this on a fast track without the Jschool course, and I doubt I could have taken the course without the VET FEE-HELP offering.

Finally, I doubt I should really have to outline why I think journalism is a public good and a valuable part of the civic health of any country. I hope it’s a pretty straightforward case.

But I will also note that both our current and former Prime Ministers worked as journalists before turning to a different kind of public service in government. Mr Turnbull for his part has repeatedly talked in public of how crucial he views the vocation. He spoke in 2011 of “the importance of journalism, honest and ethical, fearless and independent, responsible and accurate journalism; for without it we will struggle to remain a free society, struggle indeed to remain a democracy.”

Harry Brumpton

Upon completion of the Diploma of Journalism at Jschool, I was immediately offered a position with Fairfax Media. I went on to work for APN, and then on to edit various magazines, which I still do today. I have also written extensively for numerous publications in Australia and abroad, and continue to work in the profession.

The Jschool course was thoroughly enjoyable, practical and an extremely good introduction to journalism and the wider profession.

I urge you to include journalism in the list of approved courses for student loans. It would be an absolute shame to see journalism excluded. Journalism is a vital and central part of our society and vocational education courses in journalism must be accessible to young people.

Clare Chapman

I want to recommend that Diploma of Journalism students at School based in Brisbane be eligible for student loans from next year.

The professor,  John Henningham, is one of the best journalism lecturers in the country and the course is probably the most practical and useful for news organisations straight after graduation. I was able to get a job at the News-Mmail newspaper newsroom as business reporter in Bundaberg.

I understand over 60% of my class got full time employment, much higher than less practical journalism courses at Universities.

Craig Cobbin

I am part of Jschool’s 2003 alumni and have enjoyed a successful decade-long career in print, online and television journalism since completing my diploma.

As the world has changed through the advancement of information technology so too has journalism, and it is vital now more than ever before that journalists are properly trained and prepared to cover and report on events both at home and abroad.

The Diploma of Journalism is at the core of journalism training and provides the necessary career preparation and contributes essential skills to the industry.

Jack Hawke

I attended Jschool in 2011 and upon graduating I became employed in the editorial department of The Gladstone Observer in Gladstone, Queensland, a daily newspaper where I worked for two years. Since then I have continued my career in journalism, which I still work in today.

I credit Jschool’s one-year diploma course to helping me get that first job and feeling confident in my abilities. The course is industry recognized and it is unlikely that I would have enrolled without the government’s financial support. I personally feel I learned more in my time there than I did in a previous three-year Bachelor of Communications course I completed at the University of Queensland.

Journalism is an important facet of democracy, ensuring Australian citizens are informed, educated and participating in the community. Losing an opportunity to encourage the education of future journalists will be detrimental to the industry and our communities.

Emily Kemp

As someone who studied a diploma of journalism at Jschool in Brisbane and a bachelor of arts majoring in journalism at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, I have a unique understanding of vocational education regarding journalism.

I learnt more in six months at Jschool than I did in three times that period at university.

I was employed at a newspaper before I finished at Jschool and I quickly came to learn students from Jschool were far more highly valued in the journalism industry than those churned out at universities, particularly due to Jschool graduates’ practical nature.

I would not have won two Young Journalist of the Year awards and received a highly commended for a piece on Forgotten Australians without the tutelage I received at Jschool.

Please consider the importance of practical education and that people have different learning styles when determining which courses should be part of the loan scheme. I hope that you will also see that Jschool should be on that list.

Emma McBryde

I am a graduate of Jschool’s inaugural class in 2002 and have been employed continuously as a journalist, both in Australia and abroad, since graduating.

Having previously worked as a reporter for Australian regional daily newspapers, the editor of a suburban weekly, and a sub-editor for News Limited in Brisbane, I am currently employed by Japan’s Kyodo News agency, one of the world’s largest news agencies, as a copy editor.

I have also coordinated a private-sector development program in Yangon, Myanmar, where I trained state media employees on journalism techniques.

I owe my career success in large part to the knowledge and skills I gained at Jschool, which I was able to obtain in a fraction of the time required to complete a university degree.

Sean Maki Miyaguchi

During my year of study, I believe that all but one student went straight into a Journalist position within six months of graduating.  Such was the nature of this practically based course where exposure and work experience opportunities with several newspapers were included as part of the course.

While I personally didn’t stay in a traditional journalism role I have used this course to secure several closely related positions over the last decade.  An ability to communicate with the media, to write media releases, to market material online, to enter public relations, and to simply be able to write clearly are all outcomes of this course and negate the notion that journalism has a “limited public good”.

Journalism is a wonderful foundation course even for those who chose not to directly enter into the field.  Given that poor literacy is a major obstacle to productivity and employment in Australia I would encourage you to reconsider its inclusion.

Leysha Penfold

Over the year it took to complete my Diploma, we covered the many varying aspects of the journalism industry. We looked back on the creation of journalism, its evolution over the years and its place in the future. We studied the important ethics when it comes to reporting on sensitive topics, like court cases and we complete assignments related to that. If the work wasn’t satisfactory, our lecturers told us to keep trying and re-submitting. I had a lot of fun when we looked into media journalism, writing scripts for radio broadcasts compared to TV scripts or newspaper articles. We covered video journalism, what we learned over those weeks I now use in my current job. It may be a one year course, but there’s so much packed into it and I walked away with an understanding of many aspects of the industry and a hunger to join it.

Three months after graduating, I was hired by Barrier Daily Truth Newspaper as its Sport Writer, covering Broken Hill’s sports, all of them. The Diploma of Journalism gave me solid backing to hit the ground running in the job. Of course, you learn as you go but having that Diploma under my belt, it was crucial.

After a year and a bit, earlier this year, I replaced Southern Cross News’ Broken Hill reporter and became a video journalist. I spent a few days with my predecessor and a week with the Port Pirie journo to train but I also looked back on the material taught by lecturer David Stuart. The camera angles, using close ups to make a news package more engaging, putting the package together, not using back-to-back soom shots because it’s disorienting to the viewer and more importantly, how to write a TV news package script. Five months on and it’s smooth sailing here in Broken Hill. I have plans to stay in the job for a couple of years before, hopefully, getting a job back in Adelaide.

I strongly urge you to re-think your decision and allow future students like myself, to get that fee-help assistance so they can achieve their goals of becoming a journalist.

Patrick Reincke

I chose the diploma of journalism over a similarly priced masters of journalism course (I was offered places in both) that ran over a similar time frame.

The reason I chose the diploma was that my own research convinced me that Jschool’s diploma of business was a course that offered extremely practical tuition and considered the students “trainee journalists”. Over the course of the diploma I did four internships and I got great feedback from the hosts – I felt that Jschool prepared me well for the internship and I didn’t need my hand held. After graduating I got a job at the Tweed Daily News and I saw my classmates get jobs at other regional and metro newspapers. I’m now working at ABC as a video journalist.

The Jschool director offered me a job as a lecturer and I’ve since been able to pass practical and contemporary skills and knowledge onto the students. Many editors of regional newspapers have praised Jschool graduates and have said that they don’t know why anybody wanting to be a journalist would do a university degree when they could get themselves up to speed with a diploma at Jschool.

It’s been my pleasure to see my students land jobs in the industry after graduation.

I would therefore ask that you reconsider your decision on excluding the diploma of journalism from the list of eligible courses.

David Stuart

I did the course in 2003, prior to it being a course that had government assistance, and found it to be a very useful diploma that helped me get a job in journalism.

The course, run by Professor John Henningham, is practical and gave me the skills I needed to get a full-time job in journalism.

I learned how to write quickly and clearly, how to interview and shorthand.

I also did three internships during my time at Jschool which were critical in helping me get a foothold in the industry.

The skills I learned at Jschool meant that I was able to write publishable stories during my internships, which led to paid freelance work and then eventually led to a cadetship at the Sydney Morning Herald.

I now work at The Australian Financial Review in a full-time journalism role.

Edmund Tadros

Since receiving a Diploma of Journalism 2004, I have been permanently employed as either a journalist or public servant.

The skills taught in Diploma of Journalism teach skills can be applied to a range of sectors and disciplines.

From social work to public relations, marketing and advertising to training and presenting, the diploma puts a number of careers within reach.

I hope the Department will reconsider its position and once again include the Diploma of Journalism on the eligibility list next year.

Toby Walker