Year 11 student Connor A. won University of Queensland’s prestigious Digital Storytelling Competition for 2021

Entrants were asked to produce a 2-3 minute video documentary on their chosen topic, including an interview with at least one person for the story. They were to use a mix of voice-over commentary, face-to-camera, interview style, music and cutaway footage, and were encouraged to choose a topic for the documentary that was important to them, something they were passionate about or would like to draw attention to.

Mrs Harvey was privileged to sit down with this budding journalist and do the interviewing. With such a professional communicator at hand, it was no wonder she was a little nervous!

What is your first memory of being interested in journalism?

I had always loved writing, from the earliest years of primary school. My family always had The Courier Mail in the house and this prompted an interest in storytelling and journalism. By Year 6 I was producing my own digital newspaper which I sold to my family for $3!

When did you first start interacting with journalism in the wider world?

In Year 7, I saw a story about an enterprise called 6 News Australia on the Today show. Started by a 13 year old in Melbourne, the platform was giving young people a chance to engage with the skills of broadcast journalism and this was something I really wanted to contribute to. I contacted the organiser and am now the Chief Reporter. We produce news stories with an independent and unbiased perspective

What are the key qualities or skills you believe a successful journalist needs?

I think they need to be curious and well-read with an interest in modern history and how global events of past centuries have shaped our world today. They need to be resilient and persistent in sourcing and completing interviews, and in producing the content. It can take me up to 8 hours to create just 3 minutes of quality footage, so patience and commitment are the key. A successful journalist also needs to be able to write convincingly, and connect and communicate with an audience.

How do you digitally produce your content?

I have gathered a whole host of equipment by saving gift money, and requesting lights and microphones for birthdays and Christmases. I need my own media room now, absolutely!

You’ve mentioned your work experience at Channel 7 in Year 10-how did that come about?

I was very blessed that my Mum made contact with Kendall Gilding, Channel 7 journalist,  and organised for me to have a surprise tour of the studios for my 13th birthday. This allowed me to establish a connection there and despite the organisation not usually taking work experience students, they did except me for this opportunity in Year 10. I was able to attend team meetings and press conferences, edit stories and conduct interviews. The network has offered me the option to go back and write content for them once I am studying journalism at university.

What do you think makes the best news stories?

You need to start with something you are passionate about, which is topical, and which will interest the community. One story I pursued this year involved the shortage of strawberry farm workers due to the restrictions of the pandemic. I managed to interview a farm owner at Wamuran north of Brisbane, and also zoom called one of Australia’s leading epidemiologists, Marylouise Mc Laws.

Who are your heroes in journalism?

I don't have anyone in particular, but I admire the craft of 60 Minutes reporters - and other investigative journalists - who are fearsome interviewers and aren't afraid to go undercover and insert themselves in the action.

It’s been wonderful to hear about Connor’s career so far in journalism and we wish him all the best as he aspires to study journalism and law at QUT from 2023.