Inspiring a new generation

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Western Sydney University alumni Jessica Cortis and Nicola Barton returned to their home campus in Penrith to inspire a new generation of Journalism students.

In an intimate one-hour guest lecture on September 11, specially invited industry speakers and recent Journalism graduates, Nicola Barton and Jessica Cortis, shared their extensive global experience and their advice with aspiring first-year Journalists.

Now a rising star at The Australian Newspaper, as a student, Cortis completed internships with News Local, The Nepali Times, Seven News and the SBS, covering local community stories as well as international issues.

During her internship at The International Nepali Times, Cortis uncovered an illegitimate orphanage scandal and decided to give a voice to the story. Entitled, “Forget Me Not”, the investigative feature story later went on to receive nominations for both a Walkley Award and Ossie Award.

Cortis credits her internship in Nepal for landing her the coveted position at The Australian stating, “I can wholeheartedly say, my time in Nepal and my experience doing that internship in Nepal got me where I am today, 100 per cent.”

Relishing in her role at the Western Weekender, Barton says she loves being “the big fish in the little pond”. As the main political and crime affairs reporter in Penrith, she meets weekly with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Penrith Police, and writes up to 15 stories a week.

Only hours before the lecture Barton was on the scene at an industrial death in St. Mary’s and said, “That’s sort of the fast-paced nature of the industry, it’s something new every single day, you never do the same thing twice and that is really enriching and stimulating for your brain,” she said.

Barton encouraged students to not discount a smaller newspaper and credits her role at The Western Weekender for her exposure and contacts saying, “That’s stuff I probably wouldn’t have got if I went straight to the bottom of the pile at a massive news corporation”.

Long before graduating, the ambitious young women had international experience, a portfolio of published works and a professional online presence and urged students to take on every opportunity and start creating their portfolio now.

“If you have one place where you’re keeping and collating all your stories, by the end of your third year you’re going to look like a seasoned journalist,” said Cortis. Barton agreed, adding, “It’s really important to grasp these opportunities when they come your way because not only for the amazing experience of these things but having an international appearance on your resume really puts you above the rest and it is a competitive world,” she said.

Events such as these organized by the university are praised by students for enriching the learning experience and providing engaging and rare insights into a recent graduate’s career. For first-year student, Tileah Dobson, the guest talk proved to be a defining moment and she is more eager than ever to embark on a career in journalism.

“I was on the edge of pursuing journalism but after speaking to them and seeing a clearer picture of what the life of a journalist is like, I can definitely say that I’ve been convinced to major in the subject next year”, said Dobson.

The Introduction to Journalism course focuses on the study of the field of journalism, introducing students to professional skills and practices for news gathering and writing. Western Sydney University is ranked top two per cent in the world.

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