Memoirs of a Media Intern in Tokyo

25 October 2010

A chance to work with one of Australia's most renowned foreign correspondents in one of the world's most vibrant cities was an opportunity that Media and Communications student Jacqueline Breen couldn't miss.

Jacqueline has just returned from a four-week internship with journalist Mark Willacy at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Tokyo office. The internship was supported by the Government through the Australia-Japan Foundation; a part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Hitting the ground running, Jacqueline found herself covering a broad spectrum of stories, from the new Japanese Prime Minister and approaching parliamentary elections, to international court cases, Japanese football fanatics, and even a dissident North Korean artist.

Jacqueline says the internship gave her a chance to explore her two passions of politics and art. "I've always been interested in international politics, and the North Asian region is overflowing with big news developments."

"The region is always bubbling with culture and controversy, and I was really excited to land in the middle of it," she says. "I was also really curious about the nature of foreign correspondence in an increasingly interconnected mediascape."

Media and Communications Internship Coordinator, Robin Moffat, says one of the challenges of working as an Australian journalist in Tokyo is being able to make the news relevant for local audiences, building a stronger relationship of exchange within the region.

"It really involves catching the highlights of the relationships between Japan and Australia, and presenting them to an Australian audience," says Robin.."As a journalist, Jacqueline will now be able to interpret the information coming from Japan and Asia into an Australian context. There's only an extremely small number of people who have this type of opportunity, so it really sets Jacqueline apart from her peers."

Working closely with an experienced team of journalists helped Jacqueline adjust to both the cultural and the professional transition into the world of foreign correspondence. "Working with Mark Willacy should be compulsory for all journalism students," she says. "He taught me a lot about doing the job but also a great deal about loving the job."

"After working the frontline in dangerous situations all around the world Mark still has a passion for the job and a really admirable perspective on life."

Jacqueline made sure that her four weeks in Tokyo weren't entirely consumed by work, taking the time to explore many of the more cultural aspects of Japan's capital city.

"At work during the week my brain would be ticking over Japanese elections and North Korean posturing, and on the weekend I had a cutting-edge cultural mecca to explore," Jacqueline said. "The city has a lot of contemporary art to offer, and I soaked it all up."

With overwhelmingly positive feedback from both Jacqueline and from the ABC's Tokyo office, it is hoped that this opportunity will continue for students in the years to come. Writing regularly on the Media and Communications department blog, Parallax, helped Jacqueline share her experiences with other Media and Communications students hoping to benefit from this type of internship in the future.

"The Australia-Japan Foundation made all this happen," Jacqueline wrote in her final blog post. "As a journalism student I gained unprecedented insight into the unique world of foreign correspondence, and as a world traveller I gained a love of Japanese people and places. I'll definitely be back."

Contact: Emily Jones, Faculty of Arts

Phone: 9351 2209

Email: 310f1d364a010f2a2d0e3016224f26083d0157005d2f5a253e