Experience the key to a great start

26 August 2011

Written by: Kellie Mayo

Well-known former ABC cadets nominate the chance to learn from some of the best journalists in the business as a highlight of their cadetships at the national broadcaster.

7.30 Victoria's Josie Taylor

7.30 Victoria host, Josie  Taylor, began her cadetship in the ABC’s Melbourne newsroom in 2003.

Her colleagues included Michael Rowland, Zoe Daniel, Ben Knight and Rafael Epstein, all of whom became ABC foreign correspondents soon after.

‘I was in a room full of heavy hitters,’ says Taylor.  ‘The best thing I did was to keep my head down and watch how they worked.’

Taylor says the advice and support she received from experienced reporters was an invaluable part of her training.  They helped her develop the skills she displayed covering Melbourne’s underworld war in 2004 and, later, as the Victorian Political Reporter for ABC TV News.

ABC reporter Kerri Ritchie

Taylor’s experiences strike a chord with ABC News reporter and former foreign correspondent, Kerri Ritchie, who began her cadetship in the broadcaster’s Brisbane newsroom in 1998.

Ritchie was assigned a mentor, Lisa Millar, who is now the ABC’s North America correspondent.

‘From pieces to camera in a singlet to almost missing deadlines, Lisa kept an eye on me and set me off on the right path,’ says Ritchie.

‘She didn’t mind dishing out a bit of tough love.  From her I quickly learnt to move fast, write clearly and be the type of journalist who is credible and honest.’

Ritchie says having access to journalists who have been foreign correspondents is a major benefit of an ABC cadetship.

ABC Australia Network international television presenter, Kate Arnott, agrees but says she initially found her inspiration a little closer to home.

Arnott’s start at the ABC in 1996 was as a regional cadet in the ABC’s Bendigo newsroom. There she found herself working alongside radio presenter Derek Guille and experienced journalist Graeme Nicks.

Australia Network's Kate Arnott

‘Working with people who were locals and filing for a local audience made you set and keep high standards in your reporting,’ Arnott says.

‘And being at a regional station meant you had to learn a greater range of skills than you might have as a cadet in the city.’

Arnott also credits long-serving Victorian ABC Radio newsreader, Colin Denovan, with teaching her the value of presentation in broadcast journalism. ‘It doesn’t matter how good your script is if you can’t get your presentation – and your pronunciation – right,’ she says.

Taylor, Arnott and Ritchie have all taken different paths in their journalistic careers but say their time as ABC cadets has been the backbone of their success.

‘My cadetship has taken me on an amazing adventure from Longreach to London and Auckland to Indonesia,’ says Ritchie.

And for these three ABC journalists, those incredible career journeys are not over yet.

See the details of the ABC’s journalism cadetship program, including upstart’s interview with the ABC’s Manager of Staff Development, Heather Forbes, here.

Kellie Mayo is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University and the current editor of upstart.  She’s also a former ABC cadet who now produces Barrie Cassidy’s Insiders program on ABC1. You’ll find her on Twitter @KelMayo.