Myer AKF Fellows make their media mark

19 March 2010

Generous fellowship enables our media students to raise their voice in Asia.

For four weeks over the summer break, six final-year University of Sydney B.A. (Media and Communications) students sacrificed sun and sand to tackle the Myer AKF Fellowship.

Placing fellows with English-language newspapers in Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Korea, the Myer AKF Fellowship makes it possible for motivated and passionate University of Sydney students to showcase their skills in an otherwise restricted and demanding field.

Each Fellowship, worth $5000, saw Paddy Wood, Rachel Mulholland, Anna Lam, Nadia Daly, Sam Deavin and Cassandra O'Connor cover everything from front page business and political news to chic cupcakes on the emerging medium of online television.

University of Sydney fellows proved worthy of the $30,000 grant provided by Ken and Yasuko Myer and the Australia Korea Foundation, which also helps strengthen the exchange between Australian and Asian groups.

Hitting the ground running, overcoming language and cultural barriers and wanting to prove themselves on an international level, the fellows work is accomplished, insightful and daring.

Following her orientation at the Australian Embassy in Seoul, a compulsory aspect of each Fellowship, Cassandra found that pitching controversial ideas results in a front-page stories and bylines.

Likewise, Sam's own investigative lifestyle story on Bangkok's young designers proves that "everyone has a story" and independent thought takes you a long way. Clearly, the Myer AKF Fellowship cements and develops the skills learnt within the Sydney University B.A. (Media and Communications) degree.

The Myer AKF Fellowship is unique in its ability to not only develop independent story ideas but enhances script-writing, direction, presenting and editing skills. Despite the sporadic working hours in their respective cities, fellows are exposed to alternative stories, beliefs and values in new environments.

At the privately owned political paper, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Anna submitted two stories daily with as little as an hour's notice. Initially shocked by the concept of "ambush journalism", Anna now knows to "see someone, run up, turn on your voice recorder and go." Her interview with local celebrity Pia Magalona proves this technique works.

The Ken and Yasuko Myer and Australia Korea Foundation fellows are awarded a unique opportunity. With funds designed to cover the cost of travel, insurance and living expenses participants are free to submerge themselves in the experience.

Faced with new concepts of news values and some interesting responsibilities (such as securing an interview with the German president), one wonders why Rachel was surprised when host organisations "actually took notice of what [we] said".

After being associated with 'Men at Work' and The Broncos, Rachel made her mark on TBS Radio in South Korea by encouraging a shift in program structure and securing nearly impossible interviews.

Similarly, Paddy Wood saw his story Haiti Needs Your Help become the third most read story of the day with his editor chasing him for a story after his initial placement had ended.

To find out more about the fellow's experiences and work visit their blog at

Myer AFK Fellows, Anna Lam and Cassandra O'Connor