By Michael Andrew
Journalism students across Australia collaborated in an immense project to cover the weekend’s federal election.
Organised through The Junction, a website showcasing and promoting student journalism, the coverage featured in-depth stories profiling every candidate in each electorate throughout the election build up.
Seventeen universities, hundreds of students and 80 staff across the country were involved in the project.
It culminated in a live three-hour broadcast of election night on Saturday. The broadcast was produced from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and featured political analysis, commentary from notable pundits and 31 live crosses to student reporters across the 17 universities.
It was live streamed on Facebook and broadcast on Melbourne TV station Channel 31 and relayed to Adelaide and Perth, as well as the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia’s network of radio stations.
The Junction editor and director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne, Dr Andrew Dodd, said the project was an incredible achievement.
“All of the people involved right around the country have just done an incredible job. It surpassed expectations,” he said.
“We’ve had all these universities working on their electorates, covering them and getting to know them really well so there is just this incredible reservoir of stories on the website.”
He said Saturday’s live broadcast was near perfect and went up against some heavy competition.
“We went head-to-head with the ABC at the time when it was the most watched channel in the country.”
However, he said the project was more about adding new and diverse voices to the market place.
“I think that was evident by the kinds of faces and the voices that the broadcast included, lots of diversity, lots of young perspectives.”
He said the project’s main objective was to hone the skills of young journalists and expose them to the dynamics of the electoral system.
“Collectively, when journalism schools across Australia work together we have the biggest newsroom in the country.”
RMIT Bachelor or Communications student Jesse Burns, who was a presenter on Saturday’s live broadcast, said the experience was incredibly invaluable.
“Still being a student, there is so much to learn not simply around presenting itself, but also working with producers, technicians and graphics. I had a team of 15 people on the night working specifically with me.”
He said nerves are inevitable on such a big production but they can also be useful.
“Nervousness shows you care. So for me, I just tried to harness those feelings and I think that helped me present the best I can.
“Any opportunity like this should always be jumped at. Whether that be producing, presenting or even just updated the twitter feed, it’s all such great experience and one that will hold students in good stead going forward.”