Journalism students shine in election night coverage

Posted on September 9, 2013

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Live crosses to the ABC's Barrie Cassidy and interviews with 'party crashers': La Trobe journalism students, from left, Kathleen O'Connor, Paddy Naughtin and Bridget Rollason prepare for election night coverage.

Live crosses to the ABC’s Barrie Cassidy and interviews with ‘party crashers’: La Trobe journalism students, from left, Kathleen O’Connor, Paddy Naughtin and Bridget Rollason prepare for election night coverage.

It might have been ‘Tony Abbott’s night’ as Australia’s new Prime Minister elect – but it was also upstart’s

Erdem Koc:  no other journalism program did what we did on the night

Erdem Koc: no other journalism program did what we did on the night.

With their very own live four-hour Australian federal election broadcast, poll night was a great success for students in La Trobe University’s journalism program.

Between 7 and 11 pm a team of dedicated students streamed their election coverage via the University’s online magazine upstart.net.au with exceptional professionalism.

Lecturer in journalism Erdem Koc is founding editor of upstart and also works for SBS news and current affairs. ‘No other journalism program in Australia did what we did that night,’ he says.

High-profile guests commentators

‘The quality of the coverage brought to life the importance of practice-based teaching and learning, and further fulfilled upstart‘s mission as a magazine for emerging journalists,’ he says.

Throughout the night, upstart political editor Liam Quinn, and his predecessor Eric George, delivered news and analysis as results trickled in. The team crossed live, twice, to veteran ABC political journalist Barrie Cassidy, as well as New Matilda’s Ben Eltham, to add to the in-depth coverage.

Four hour web cast: (names of students??)

Four hour web cast: Eric George, left, and Liam Quinn.

Pre-recorded interviews included La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar; former Kevin Rudd senior press secretary, Lachlan Harris, and the Institute of Public Affairs’ Tim Wilson.

A word with the party crashers

‘Our “Party Crasher” interviews were also played, where final-year journalism student Bridget Rollason spoke with all the new parties in this year’s election, some of which now look likely to hold Senate seats,’ says Mr Koc. Journalism program convenor and ABC commentator, Associate Professor Lawrie Zion, also provided on-air insights.

‘We also played some of the Australia Decides 2013 podcasts, produced and hosted by Matt Smith and Professor Nick Bisley over the past five weeks,’ he says. The last of these – the post election wrap featuring La Trobe political scientist and commentator Robert Manne – will be broadcast on Thursday, September 12

Invaluable experience

Executive producer of upstart and final-year journalism student, Tahlia Mcpherson, says ‘working with the upstart team to cover the 2013 election was a fantastic and invaluable experience. ‘To put together a four hour webcast, off little experience and with only the smallest of hiccups, is a testament to not only the students, but also the staff at La Trobe University.’

Chris Mullarvey at the control panel, with Tahlia Mcpherson and Adria De Fazio on the right.

Chris Mullarvey at the control panel, with Tahlia Mcpherson and Adria De Fazio on the right.

Upstart‘s political editor Liam Quinn says the night was a historic one. ‘It’ll definitely be looked back upon as at an important election,’ he says.

‘Not only because it saw the final demise of one of our most conflicting political figures, but also because of the way the litany of smaller parties seem set to shape the next three years.’

The election team consisted of Chris Mullarvey, Paddy Naughtin, Bridget Rollason, Adria de Fazio, Kimberley Thomson and Kathleen O’Connor, as well La Trobe University staff members Margaret Purdam, Steinar Ellingsen, Marcus De Rijk and Simon Knight.

‘And who knows,’ concludes Mr Koc, ‘ in the event of a double dissolution election in a few months’ time, we might have to do it all again.’

Read the upstart election article

Listen to La Trobe University’s election podcasts