There’s a new player in Australia's news media industry. UNSW School of the Arts & Media (SAM) has launched a news website featuring writing, audio and video produced by media students.
Newsworthy will be based at the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and will feature work from postgraduate and undergraduate journalism students, plus a network of contributors from across the faculty. The site will also house content from creative writing, photography and film students. It will run under the guidance of a former editor of The Sydney Morning Herald news app, Connie Levett.
Ms Levett, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the industry, came on board as Newsworthy’s editor because she saw the value in students gaining practical experience in online publishing.
“Newsworthy is about student learning,” Ms Levett says.
“The experience of working in a high-powered digital newsroom ... it can be a brutal world. You need some basis before you get thrown into that.
“We made a decision to have a place where the students could publish their work, because one of the big things when you're leaving university is to have a portfolio and get that first job.”
Initially, the site will publish a couple of stories a week which will come predominantly from course assignments but can also be pitched by students and commissioned by Newsworthy. The publication aims to cover a range of editorial pillars including justice, society, technology and gender.
Newsworthy is more than the average student newsroom, Ms Levett says. What sets it apart from the rest is its focus on other elements of the news production cycle such as audience building and cross-platform distribution.
“It's not just about being published,” Ms Levett says.
'I loved that from the outset the team behind building the publication was interested in developing a quality news and opinion outlet that showcased students' voices at a standard that demands they are heard.'
“It's helping students understand the protocols, the standards that they're going to need to meet to successfully operate in that world.
“The integrated learning platform is a really important teaching tool for students in terms of helping them see how it all works.
“The process also teaches them how to find an audience, how to sell the story on our social media accounts – skills which are all about the digital world.”
Ms Levett believes Newsworthy provides a point of difference by covering the issues facing 21st century Australia through the eyes of the generation who will live it.
“We’re interested in ideas and in potential,” she says.
“We wanted to have a flavour of youth, both in terms of subject material and contributions. We want to mould our coverage to something that talks to our students and to the things they are engaged with.”
Third-year Bachelor of Media and Law student Reena Mukherjee says working on Newsworthy as a reporter and contributor is incredibly rewarding, pushing her out of her comfort zone.
“Connie has been amazing at working with us to develop our skills in journalism.
“Her feedback and edits hold us to a rigorously high standard, showing us how to weave different people's stories together to create a clear direction and message for our pieces.
“I've learnt skills in editing, juggling multiple angles in one story and balancing quoting sources with the story that we, as journalists, have to tell at the end of the day.”
Ms Mukherjee, who has been writing stories and poems since she was three years old, learnt about Newsworthy when Ms Levett spoke to her class about plans for the publication.
“I loved that from the outset the team behind building the publication was interested in developing a quality news and opinion outlet that showcased students' voices at a standard that demands they are heard,” she says.
She hopes to further expand her storytelling skills and would like to pursue a career as a crime reporter after graduating.
“I would like to find a role that uses both my media experience and my belief in legal advocacy and justice.
“I've always been attracted to criminal law as a complement to my crime writing – and perhaps some investigative or court reporting could also be an opportunity I'll look into.
“I'm interested in social justice, and this publication has been a way for me to contribute stories that I believe celebrate brave members of our society who act with integrity, while challenging us all to consider how we can cooperate to ensure people don't suffer in silence.”