News Conference 2017: Editors’ Diary

All image credits: Connor Tomas O'Brien

Part of the Grapeshot team flew to Melbourne for the annual NEWS Conference that brings together a whole bunch of student journos from around Australia. We thought it’d be a good idea to break down our experience editor by editor and let our audience know exactly what we’ll be looking to improve in the year to come. We were given valuable advice from industry professionals who – you called it – began their careers at their respective university publications.

Angela Heathcote, Editor-in-Chief

The NEWS Conference 2017 exceeded all my expectations and while there was so much useful advice that I’ll be taking back with me, Gordon Farrer’s talk on Media and Law Ethics was a huge standout. When I read the description, “Farrer gives you a rundown on how not to get sued, fired, or assassinated by student politicians” I already knew I’d be describing his talk in this little “my favourite news conference” entry. I could easily go on about aspects of the law I was honestly surprised by, specifically in regards to whistleblowers, but the best lesson that came out of it was, “when it comes to defamation, there’s a difference between hurting someone’s reputation and hurting someone’s feelings.”



Angus Dalton, Deputy Editor

The second day kicked off with an address by Amy Middleton, an incredibly rad journo who founded Archer Magazine in 2013. Archer is Australia’s first journal about sexuality and gender diversity, and in 2014 Amy and her team received a United Nations Media Peace Award for their work. To me, Archer and Amy exemplify what print media should be – ballsy, brave, beautifully produced, with feet planted firmly on the ground and an overarching moral conscience.

Amy reminded us that an editor has the privileged position to act as a gatekeeper to specific stories and ideas – this power should be wielded to amplify the voices that need to be heard in a culture where everyone is yelling. I’m really galvanised to seek out the stories and voices of those on campus whose voices are swallowed up rather than shouted. We’ll be working extremely hard to pursue contributions from Indigenous students, people from CALD backgrounds, members of the LGBTIQ+ community and anyone else who has a good goddamn story that deserves spruiking. We’re always open for pitches – start a conversation with us at!



Paden Hunter, Creative Director

Of course, for me, the most interesting part was getting to speak to other creative directors from around the country, to talk illustration work, page layouts and engaging the readers. Student publication veteran Alan Weedon (who now designs Swampland) led a great graphics skill-share class. It’s good to know that despite all the talk of hard reporting and media ethics, there are still some people who care about the page margins.

Alicia Scott, News Editor

Goori journalist Jack Latimore was the first, and IMO the most important, speaker of the NEWS Conference at RMIT. What was described in the program flyer as a general talk on what the media landscape will look like in the future turned out to be an hour-long truth bomb of how non-Indigenous journalists really suck at reporting on Indigenous issues and do not encourage participation from First Nations writers. Jack discussed that while social media and emerging online publications like IndigenousX, New Matilda, and even Junkee, are providing a platform for marginalised voices, the major players like the ABC, Fairfax, and The Australian inadequately represent Indigenous people, both writers and higher editorial positions. Jack’s researched analysis could be broken down to a simple sentence: “Journalists have to not just hear marginalised groups, but listen to them.” While marginalised individuals should never be expected to calmly educate the privileged, Jack giving up his morning to school me and 70 other non-Indigenous writers was much-needed and a constructive way to start off two days of intense workshops and discussions.

Emma Harvey, Features Editor

My favourite talk was easily ‘The Nuts and Bolts of Editing’ with Sam Cooney. When Sam asked us individually what we wanted to learn from the session, I panicked and said “to be you.” A troubling thing to say to someone you’ve just met, but nonetheless, true. One of the best things about the 2017 News Conference, and Sam’s talk in particular, was that it brought us face to face with industry figures we’ve spent years admiring and envying. Sam runs The Lifted Brow, an Australian literary publication that I geek out over every time my copy comes in the mail. He’s a seasoned writer and publisher and has been in positions I’ll spend my career striving for. The man didn’t disappoint. He gave tips on finding a balance between offering too little advice and straight up authoring someone’s work on their behalf, and offered strategies for dealing out rejections and/or suggestions to contributors. My takeaway quote: “[editing] can be as creatively fulfilling as writing.” I’m taking Sam’s advice and inspo, and hauling all of it back to Macquarie with me.

Nikita Jones, Regulars Editor

During the session on Editing & Arts Coverage, one of the endless stream of people whose jobs I want, Time Out Melbourne editor Rose Johnstone, shared her extensive experience in arts and culture journalism. Particularly as review-based pieces make up about half of the writing I see as the Regulars editor, her advice on finding and curating arts coverage that’s worth reading had me throwing around capital letters and underlines in my notes. Also, as an editor for Time Out Rose shared a very student editor-like passion for showcasing and encouraging local productions. As other Uni publications jumped in with their tight relationship to musical and drama societies I realised this is something I’m passionate about adding to Grapeshot in 2017. The true purpose of arts coverage is an inherent encouragement of the arts, and we should be starting at Macquarie.