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The ‘real prize’ for a regional journalist

For someone who uses words for a living it’s hard to find ones big enough to explain how grateful I am for this experience.

By Elly Bradfield

As I lay in a hospital bed while my newborn was down the corridor in the special care unit, I asked: “is my baby going to be okay?”

The paediatrician responded: “We are still very worried about your daughter.”

Physically exhausted but unable to sleep, I replayed the past 30+ hours in my mind and started searching the internet to help make sense of our situation.

I knew I had a story that needed telling, discovering that one in three Australian women experience a traumatic birth.

It inspired some of the work that I am most proud of, including one of the stories that I submitted for the Caroline Jones Women in Media Young Journalist’s Award.

Supported by Women in Media and the National Press Club of Australia, the award includes:

  • A $2500 personal learning fund
  • Travel and accommodation to Canberra for five nights
  • During that time in the national capital, the winner will spend time in various Canberra newsrooms and Press Gallery bureaus
  • A seat at the National Press Club lunch where the winner asks a question
  • Mentorship from the Women in Media Canberra committee

When I found out Clare Bowditch – musician, broadcaster, actor, speaker, entrepreneur, and author – was scheduled to deliver the National Press Club address during my visit to Canberra, I was thrilled.

Elly Brafield meets the multi-talented Clare Bowditch. Photo: Supplied.

I had devoured Bowditch’s book at a time when I really needed her words.

In her press club address, Bowditch said Caroline Jones had “saved her life” decades ago when Jones invited her on a radio program at the time when the singer really needed it.

Jones is a trailblazer. I was honoured to meet her in 2018 when I was the runner up for the award.

She convinced me to attend the Women in Media national conference with my four-month-old baby in tow. I never would have considered it without the gentle nudge from this living legend.

Asking a question at the National Press Club. Photo: Supplied.

Jones has always stressed the importance of my work, which is sometimes easy to forget.

Regional journalism is often treated like a stepping stone to a metropolitan career but for many of us, we only want to work in rural and regional areas.

We work hard day after day, putting out content and often wondering if anyone is reading, listening or watching. This award is recognition that it does matter.

I have always taken immense pride in what I do, but the last few years of my career have felt difficult. I’ve felt torn between the job I love and the family I love more and like so many before me, have struggled to figure out my new life.

With my second baby not far away, I have been worried about what returning to work with two children would be like.

Introducing my family to Caroline Jones. Photo: Supplied.

While the week in Canberra was more valuable than I could have imagined, the real prize, I believe, is a room full of mentors.

There are extremely talented and kind women I can now call on for advice on my work, this juggle and whatever else I’ll need.

For someone who uses words for a living it’s hard to find ones big enough to explain how grateful I am to all the women who made this experience possible. 

Elly Bradfield is an ABC journalist and recipient of the 2020 Caroline Jones Women in Media Young Journalist’s Award.

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