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upstart turns one

Upstart is one year-old this Saturday. Co-founders Lawrie Zion and Chris Scanlon look back on the first twelve months of an experiment that's resulted in dozens of students and journalists publishing more than 500 items on the site.

‘Whatever uncertainties prevail, never before has there been a greater need for graduates to be able to point to published work when seeking employment.’

That’s a line we scratched out a year ago ahead of the launch of upstart. Twelve months and more than 500 postings later, that’s still true, although perhaps only more so, as any journalism graduate knows – and as one graduating student has demonstrated so publicly. More about Tom Cowie a bit later.

While upstart was spawned by La Trobe University Journalism, one of the things that’s made being part of it so enjoyable for us has been watching the site develop into more than a student publication. With more than 1,000 followers on Twitter and around 400 on Facebook, its audience has grown steadily, and has even become the subject of articles from as far afield as the UK. And it’s made at least a start in its other mission to become a forum and publishing platform for emerging journalists.

For us it’s been a great experience in collaboration with the growing cohort of students who have taken on editorial and writing roles with the publication.

So a big thanks to Erdem Koc, who edited upstart through its first few months during the second half of last year. Erdem graduated from Law and Media at the end of last year and went straight into a full-time journalism gig with SBS radio.

Thanks too to Tom Cowie, who edited upstart during the long university summer break, ahead of his eventful graduating semester, during which time he completed an internship with Crikey, and the launched his #tomwantsajob campaign – a bold barrage of blogging augmented by social media saturation that garnered international attention. It worked. Tom’s returning to Crikey as a full-time journalist on July 1.

Now’s also the time to say so long and thanks to our outgoing editors, Kelly Theobald and Matt de Neef. Kelly, who’s going to spend the next few months writing her honours thesis about sharks in the media, just happens to also be the author of the upstart piece that’s attracted more comments than any other – ‘Shark Fin Shame’. Matt’s not all that far behind in the comments division thanks to his surprisingly controversial piece about Lady Gaga, but he reckons he’s not quite ready to write a thesis about her. As an editorial team, Kelly and Matt brought lots of new writers into the upstart fold, and launched the fortnightly podcast upcast.

Our new editorial team includes several regular upstart contributors. Meghan Lodwick is a blogger, barista and Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe; Evan Harding (sport editor) and Sarah Green are also completing their Master of Global Comms degrees. Jean Kemshal-Bell is a Journalism Honours student writing her thesis about the evolution of magazines online, and Ryan Jon, who will be political editor during the upcoming election campaign,  is completing an Honours Commerce degree at Swinburne University and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism at La Trobe.

If you want to wish us happy birthday, or pitch an article, drop us a line on And by the way, thanks for reading us.

Lawrie Zion and Christopher Scanlon teach jouranlism at La Trobe University and founded upstart one year ago.

A modest upstart celebration will take place from 6 on Friday in the front bar of the North Fitzroy Arms – please feel free to join us.

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