The 2016 winner of the Walkley student of the year award says he chose Journalism because he gets to write stories that make a real difference to society.
Final year Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) student Jarni Blakkarly says he is excited by the ways in which digital journalism is evolving and the new ways of online multi-media and interactive story-telling that are emerging.
Although Blakkarly is still a student he is already working freelance regularly for the ABC, Al Jazeera, Reuters and BBC World Service.
On July 27 he was announced as the winner of the 2016 Walkely student of the year for his reports “Democracy rising” published by ABC Radio National, “Behind the mask of an emergency” published in the Griffith Review and “Australian cuts to climate change research may hit drive into Asia,” published by Reuters.
The Walkley judges said his body of work exhibited balance, depth, initiative and courage across a range of platforms.
As he completes his final semester, Blakkarly shares his insights on how he made the most out of his time at RMIT.
Why did you choose to study at RMIT?
RMIT’s journalism course has the best reputation, but it was also the more practical industry focus of the course that drew me to it. It seemed like a very hands-on less theoretical course which for journalism is much more relevant.
What was the best thing about Journalism at RMIT?
The teachers at RMIT have been fantastic, I had done a journalism internship before starting my degree so from year one I was really keen to start writing and start getting my work out there.
The lecturers were really helpful in giving me contacts in the industry and advice in pitching stories to organisations that helped me get my foot in the door.
The innovative journalism and data journalism classes also made me think more broadly about new methods of story-telling and how we can approach the rapidly changing media landscape as young journalists.
What's is your major and how has that added to your development as a journalist?
My major is politics and economics which I’ve always had a strong interest in. I really wanted to go into a profession where I could do meaningful work addressing important social issues and it also suited my interests in writing and wanting to travel.
You've had two RMIT organised international internships (Indonesia and Japan) - what were the highlights of those experiences?
As a part of my studies I went to Indonesia as a part of the Australian Consortium for In-Country Indonesia Studies (ACICIS) to undertake a study intensive and internship course.
The experience of getting more journalism experience abroad was invaluable and I got to intern at the Agence France Presse news organisation. I also travelled to Tokyo with year to do a month long internship with the Japan Times on an RMIT Scholarship which was a fantastic experience to expand my overseas reporting portfolio and immerse myself in a different media environment.
You have also had several RMIT organised local internships - what will you take away from those opportunities?
Two of my internships stood out, the first being a two month full time paid internship I did at Reuters in Sydney. The internship was a fantastic opportunity to be immersed and writing daily for the biggest news organisation in the world and around such high quality international reporting. It also led to my ongoing casual employment with Reuters.
My internship at the ABC’s 730 Report was also a high point for me, where I worked across the bureau and pursued an investigation which was the leading story on a national broadcast.
Story: Wendy Little