It’s an arduous task to break into the media industry, so journalism students should start pitching and producing stories before they graduate, says SBS Dateline producer Joel Tozer.
Tozer visited Macleay College this week and shared with students an impressive array of published stories on global issues, including the bloody crackdown on drugs in the Philipines and the Canadian Government’s Syrian refugee sponsorship program.
With reference to confessional stories, such as one featuring a wrongfully convicted murder suspect and another on the mother of an ice addict, he advised getting assistance.
Tozer said making the right connections was his secret to hunting down unique and emotionally loaded stories such as these.
“Find a good local fixer with good contacts in that area…they can make or break your story,” he said.
This was evidenced in a story he wrote for The Feed titled “The secretive Korean church led by a convict rapist”. He used his contacts to seek out two former members of a suspicious cult, giving him exclusive access to very scarce and usually guarded information.
As well as creating and nurturing relationships with contacts, Tozer told students he used research tools such as Factiva to “find all the articles on a particular topic and find any missing pieces”.
“You can find any holes in the information and what angles are missing,” he said.
During his time as a journalism student at Sydney’s University of Technology, Tozer interned at a variety of media organisations. He believes interning is still the best way for young journalists to get their foot in the door. He advised students to be proactive and not let the opportunity to impress slip away.
Being in the industry for just five years, Tozer has already had impressive results.
In 2014, he won a Young Walkley Award for his work as a producer for The Feed on SBS TV, and also received the 2014 Les Kennedy award for NSW Young Journalist of the Year. His work has appeared in The Guardian, ABC Radio National, The Sydney Morning Herald and Narratively.
He told students that building your “reputation in journalism is everything”. – Holly Cormack
Top photo by James Mott; inset photo by Montana Duncan