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Q&A with Jillian Mundy

Jillian Mundy is a freelance journalist and photographer from Tasmania who has contributed to the Koori Mail for 13 years She attended the 2019 national conference under the Connector program.

What is your typical day?

Like many people working in media, I fortunately don’t have a typical day. One day I’m photographing our local Aboriginal music festival then staying up all night sorting photos, writing captions and a story to file overnight. Another day I might interview and photograph a famous sportsperson or musician, or it might be someone that’s never been interviewed before, then I sweat over the words for two weeks, all the while using every procrastination tool in the book.

Another day I’ll be sitting at my kitchen table, or in my car, or tent, or a cafe, with my laptop all day sorting out my really basic profit and loss statement or adding keywords to photos and devising a better digital archiving plan.

Listening to Jenny Brockie was a mind-blowing moment at the national conference. Photo: Monique Grisanti | Uneek Creative

Another day I’m searching for photos for a funeral while juggling three stories I committed to writing for the Koori Mail. Or I might be interviewing someone at one of our Aboriginal community camps (while I’m still in my PJs), or getting a plane at 6am from Hobart to Melbourne to Darwin and hoping nothing is delayed so I’m not late to the first event I’m covering.

Another day I might sleep in till 11am or work till 5am or I might not work at all because I know my family need me too and I need them. Or maybe my boyfriend or children are coming along with me to cover an event – maybe I need their help, or I think it would be a learning experience, or maybe they’re only in it for the free ticket, or so we can spend more time together.

Or I might be wiping tears from my eyes because I know interview that I recorded was the last one that person will give in their life, and they have touched my soul and inspired me, and I will never have the opportunity to thank them.

And on the odd day I have fleeting moments where I think about having a 9 to 5 job again, one where I finish my shift and the thought of work doesn’t enter my mind until the next shift begins, and I get superannuation and paid annual leave. Then I remember what a privilege and joy it is to meet so many wonderful people and be trusted to tell their story, or to write a story that might play a part in righting a wrong, inspiring someone or making their heart swell with pride or simply brightening their day.

How often do you connect with other women in media and how important is that to you?

Rarely. Not as often as I would like to. I speak on the phone with my editor usually two or three times a fortnight, these are usually productive and hasty calls about story ideas and what I am filing.

On the odd occasion, I might have a brief yarn – usually just small talk – with a woman who might be covering the same event as me. But since the Women in Media conference that has changed a bit. The same week I discovered I was successful in the Connector Program, I was asked to go and cover the First Nations Media Association’s Remote Media Festival on Thursday Island.

Why did you apply for the Connector Program?

I had read about Women in Media a few years back and made contact via email enquiring about mentoring. There was nothing happening in Tasmania at the time. As a self taught photographer and reporter/journalist I keep my eyes peeled for professional development opportunities that are suited to me.

I was really excited about getting to the Women in Media Tasmania launch earlier this year but was unable to make it, as a close friend’s funeral was the same day. Then I came across the Connector Program promotion.

I have entered the odd ‘tell us in 25 words or less …’ kind of competition before and flunked out every time. I guessed with the Connector Program wanting 200 words maybe it wasn’t about wit or rhyme, so I had a go at it – no wit, no rhyme.

I was really surprised when I was I was successful. I ran and got my reading glasses to reread the email to make sure there was not a ‘un’ in front of the word. I hadn’t told anyone I had entered, so my family’s surprise was greater than mine!

How would you describe the national conference?

An opportunity to be inspired by, learn from and network with Australian women in media at the top of their game, and from across the industry.

What are your mind-blowing moments from the national conference?

Listening to Jenny Brockie – I could have listened all day. Caroline Graham talking about her resume and what was happening on the periphery – the real story.

What did you learn that you wish you’d known earlier in your career?

That many others suffer from imposter syndrome too. This was a great confidence booster for me.

What did you learn that will help you at work in the future?

Scaling back interview questions like Jenny Brockie spoke of, I have already been practising this. I also learnt to feel more entitled, more deserving, I felt encouraged, supported and worthy. Rob Layton’s session on mobile journalism has inspired me to look into this style of reporting into the future, as I know my body is struggling to cart around my heavy photography equipment.

Was there a stand out idea or piece of advice from the conference you think everyone should know?

Caroline Graham – ‘it doesn’t matter if you’re ready, you’re never ready, it’s never a good time’. (I have since purchased a robe mic, mini transmitter and receiver, shot my first video and it has been uploaded to the Koori Mail facebook and received over 10,000 views within a few days.) This sentiment was echoed in many sessions. In Margot Andersen’s Feel the Fear, she advised to ‘say yes, then figure out how to do it’, something I’ve always done so it was reassuring. And Dr Peta Stapleton’s ‘stress is useful’ advice – I’m using it right now!

Would you recommend the national conference to a friend?

Without hesitation.


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