Journalism today, warts and all

I worked for almost two years as a country journalist.

It was, by far, the most challenging experience of my life.

It took a certain kind of person to survive and all country journalists are driven in their own way.

One of the most driven journalists I met working for McPherson Media Group was Lana Murphy.

Lana was incredibly vivacious, immediately on the same level as anyone she interviewed and very flexible with the style of reporting she would turn her hand to.

She was constantly “on” at work and even in her personal life it seemed – she wrote a piece for the Riverine Herald about Balinese food during a well earnt break there.

Lana didn’t go into her role as a country journalist totally green.

Soon after I met her – while I worked on the Kyabram Free Press and she on the Riverine Herald – she told me she’d always wanted to be a journalist.

She’d sought work experience to help her to that end throughout her degree at RMIT in various mediums and even travelled to Jakarta to work as a broadcast journalist.

However she said it was her time with McPherson Media Group which had been the most formative experience for her.

“It’s the single best thing I’ve ever done for myself in terms of personal and career development,” she said.

“You’re not doing a monotonous 9-5 desk job.

“Every single day is different, actually every hour is different.

“I love meeting new people and going to different events.”

Such was the breadth of topics Lana reported on she told me she found herself speaking with “politicians, prudes and sex workers” during her time at the Riverine Herald.

And of course, she wrote about it all.

Not to everyone’s liking though – particularly in a small country town.

“You’re open to a lot of backlash,” she said.

“And I’m a very opinionated person so I’ve found it hard not to backchat.”

Not long after I spoke to her I read her article about different cuisine in Bali – a destination she frequents – and saw that even that had drawn criticism.

Not all the restuarants she reviewed in the article were Balinese and a woman commented on the story on Facebook to point that out.

She said the article was stupid “…the real taste of Bali and then you waffle on about eating Italian or Mexican,” she said.

Not all of Lana’s articles had been close to her heart.

As a country journalist you need to be willing to cover just about anything, from school fete’s to criminal activity.

For Lana her experience led to the offer of a position with channel 9 – a role which will put her in front of the camera, her true dream.

The role will come without the glamour some might expect.

Lana will be expected to take a camera to jobs, interview talent, film herself and then send the video’s she creates to channel 9 head office.

However she’ll continue to love what she does in that position.

 “You’re making a difference – you’re doing your bit to change people’s perceptions.”

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