Connector

Q&A with Stephanie Richards

The national conference offered the perfect opportunity to network.

Stephanie Richards works for InDaily in Adelaide. She attended the 2019 national conference under the Connector program.

Tell us about where you work?

I work as the city reporter at InDaily, a South Australian-owned online news service that offers a unique, local perspective on stories in and around Adelaide. InDaily started as a broadsheet publication in 2004 called The Independent Weekly offering an independent alternative to Adelaide’s only other print publication, News Corp’s The Advertiser. In 2010 InDaily became an online-only publication. Our readership is generated through an email newsletter, which is sent to a registered subscriber base of about 84,000 people every Monday to Friday. As well as InDaily, our publisher Solstice Media also produces SA Life magazine, CityMag and The Lead.

After completing my universities studies at the end of 2017, I started as a graduate journalist at InDaily in January last year – joining a team of four other editorial staff. I cover the Adelaide City Council and general city news, as well as social policy and Aboriginal affairs reporting.

What is your typical day?

InDaily is published at 1pm every Monday to Friday. I arrive at work between 8 to 8.30am and compile about one to two news stories each day to contribute to our email newsletter. I usually spend my afternoons meeting sources, gathering news and working on long-form stories. I also use the afternoons to do in-depth interviews and browse the web and social media for potential story ideas.

Hearing Jenny Brockie was a highlight. She is with Women in Media board member Anita Jacoby. Photo: Monique Grisanti | Uneek Creative

How often do you connect with other women in media and how important is that to you?

Apart from my colleagues, opportunities to connect with women working at other media outlets are limited. I usually see fellow journalists at press conferences or at events, however I only attend these on average once every few weeks and I am there to report, not network. It is very important for me to be able to connect with other women in media as I believe it allows me to be more open about sharing my experiences, particularly those which I find challenging. The city round can be quite male-dominated, so I appreciate having the opportunity to talk to other women about tips for developing source relationships. I also value having a collegial relationship with journalists from other media outlets as it takes the pressure off what can be a competitive environment.

Why did you apply for the Connector Program?

I applied for the Connector Program as I wanted to become more involved with Women in Media. I have found it difficult finding the time to network with other media professionals, so for me, the conference provided a perfect opportunity to get to know journalists working across all corners of Australia. I thought the conference presented a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills in a friendly, relaxed environment alongside women who share similar passions and career aspirations. I was also inspired by the presenter line-up, which included a Q&A session with one of my journalism idols, Jenny Brockie. Had Women and Media not offered the Connector Program I would have found it difficult to raise the funds to travel to the Gold Coast to be able to participate in what was ultimately an inspiring and information-packed conference.

How would you describe the national conference?

The Women in Media conference provided a safe place to share ideas, express triumphs and fears, and learn from the best in the business. It was an inspiring and thought-provoking event that left a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart. I left feeling rejuvenated about my passion for journalism and open to conquering my fears in the industry.

It was wonderful to have breakfast with Women in Media co-patron Caroline Jones. Photo: Monique Grisanti | Uneek Creative

What are your mind-blowing moments from the national conference?

One of the standout moments from the conference was being able to share breakfast with Caroline Jones on Friday and Saturday mornings. I felt immensely honoured and lucky to be able to share her company and ask her about what it was like working on Australian Story, a program that I hope to work for one day. I also enjoyed listening to Jenny Brockie’s Q&A and hearing about how she tackles interviewing to elicit a natural, raw response from interviewees.

The most impressive part of the conference was the friendly and welcoming environment. I felt like I could approach anyone in the room and start a conversation without fear of being judged. While journalism can be a competitive industry, it was nice to know there are so many inspiring women working to create a supportive space for people to feel welcome.

What did you learn that you wish you’d known earlier in your career?

During one of the panel sessions on Friday, Bobbi Mahlab said: “There is a lot of talk about confidence but I think the more useful conversation is around courage”. This resonated with me deeply. Throughout my short career, I have been pushing myself to appear more confident and self-assured but I was ultimately trying to reflect something I was not. Switching the focus to being courageous, not confident will allow me to think more in terms of positive risk-taking. I want to stay authentic to who I am whilst taking risks that challenge me to think outside my comfort zone.

What did you learn that will help you at work in the future?

I really enjoyed Caroline Graham’s data journalism workshop. She showed us several online platforms that make it easier to collate data for analysis. Her workshop inspired me to work on a data journalism project to celebrate the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in South Australia. I want to analyse Parliament speeches and MP roles to determine how far we’ve come since the suffrage movement – how often do women MPs speak in Parliament compared with their male colleagues? What are they most likely to speak about? How represented are they in the Parliament? I hope this project will provide an opportunity to put the skills Caroline taught us to practice.

Learning about data with Caroline Graham. Photo: Monique Grisanti | Uneek Creative.

Was there a stand out idea or piece of advice from the conference you think everyone should know?

During the conference, it was mentioned that it is important to acknowledge the challenges you face in your career when explaining it to other people. Not only does this help other people who are struggling feel like they are not alone, but it also makes you stand out from the crowd. I think it’s important for us not to retell our lives through rose-coloured glasses, but to embrace the challenges just as much as the triumphs. Everyone faces hurdles, but it’s how we face our fears and setbacks that define who we are as a person.

Would you recommend the national conference to a friend?

I would definitely recommend the national conference to a friend. It provided an excellent networking opportunity in a friendly, safe and welcoming environment. The workshops and panel talks were relevant and engaging and the days ran smoothly. I can’t wait to return to the conference in 2020!

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