Writing about David Bowie was the last thing Monica Ireland thought she’d be doing when she applied to do an internship at The Japan Times.
Thanks to a generous travel scholarship from the Australia Japan Foundation, and the untimely death of the pop legend, the Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) student found her first week at the publication completely devoted to everything Bowie.
It was one of many highlights in a four-week internship, where Ireland observed experienced reporters within a real newsroom approach breaking news stories and find sources for information.
“Being the largest English-language newspaper in Japan, The Japan Times employs a number of world-class journalists with decades of experience in writing and editing,” Ireland said.
“Throughout my internship I received personal feedback about each draft I wrote, which allowed me to improve significantly along the way."
Ireland was particularly pleased to be given the chance to take photos to cover an event, and was taught to caption them appropriately.
She also learnt about different uses of social media in the newsroom, such as monitoring Twitter feeds during breaking news announcements or curating posts using Storify.
Although her professional career benefited from the internship, she also believed there were important personal benefits from simply being in another country and learning about their culture.
“I was keen to do this internship to be able to experience Japan like a local. Overall, this was a unique and worthwhile experience, on both a personal and professional level,” she said.
The Japan Foundation awarded travel scholarships to two students this year. The second student, Jarni Blakkarly, will intern at The Japan Times in June.
Journalism Professional Placement coordinator, Alex Wake, said she was delighted that the Australia Japan Foundation had funded such wonderful opportunities for RMIT’s students.
“Japan is known to be an expensive country and without these generous scholarships the students would struggle to be able to intern at such prestigious news organisations as The Japan Times," Wake said.
"We are delighted to be able to send some of our brightest students to Japan to show just how talented and adaptable young Australian journalists can be,” said Wake.
This is the second year that the Australia Japan Foundation has provided travel scholarships for RMIT journalism students.
Story: Wendy Little