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Students get hands on at Sydney Writers' Festival


30 May 2013

Sydney Writers' Festival Media Hub
(L-R) Media Hub interns Drew Rooke, Emma O'Brien, Cindy Ngo and Katie Davern at work at the Sydney Writers' Festival.

Over four days at the recent Sydney Writers' Festival, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences marketing team ran the inaugural festival media hub, which was crewed by six media-student interns.

The media interns were recruited from the Departments of Media and Communications (MECO), English and the Sydney Law School. The media hub was located in a glass-walled room in the Sebel Hotel at Pier One that overlooked the festival crowds on the neighbouring piers.

The team interviewed international writers including renowned historian William Dalrymple and South African novelist Lauren Beukes. They attended sessions with University guests such as Dr Juanita Ruys, and Professor Kerry Brown, and wrote session reviews that were uploaded to the FASS website and Sydney Life blog.

The students also gained hands-on podcasting experience, editing sound recordings from high-profile talks, including: 'Lawrence Krauss: A Universe from Nothing', 'The Uncommon Reader', featuring The New Yorker's literary critic and University of Sydney guest James Wood, and 'Is Rhetoric Dead in the Age of the Soundbite?', featuring Malcolm Turnbull and Annabel Crabb.

Using recording equipment from MECO to produce introductions, the interns converted each recording to MP3 format for the Sydney Writers' Festival to upload to its official website, with a total of 12 podcasts completed across the Festival program.

The task of creating new digital content for the SWF website had never previously been undertaken, and was an intricate task to orchestrate.

One of the interns, Stephanie Wong, who has a degree in creative writing and screen arts from Curtin University and is completing her Juris Doctor degree at Sydney Law School, said the experience of interning in the media hub had given her great fly-on-the-wall insight into a major festival's administration.

"It's been fascinating to see behind the scenes and the different perspective you have to someone who is just here to see the events.

"You really notice how much effort the volunteers make and the sound people, and you become more aware of the mechanisms of the festival."

Another intern, MECO student Drew Rooke, also valued being able to interview international authors: "Where else am I going to get to be able to interview someone like William Dalrymple?" he said.

Wong and Rooke joined Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science student Harriet McInerney, Master of Publishing student Emma O'Brien, and Media and Communications students Cindy Ngo and Katie Davern as interns at the media hub.

The media hub initiative was part of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences' cultural partnership with the Sydney Writers' Festival, which was held from 20 to 26 May.

As part of their degree, the Department of Media and Communications provides internships at a range of media and media-related organisations. Clients include Fairfax, ABC, SBS, public relations firms, publishing houses and in-house communication teams.

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Contact: Kate Mayor

Phone: 02 9351 2208; 0434 561 056

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