Teachers, family, friends, esteemed guests and fellow journalists,
This speech was possibly the hardest piece of writing I have had to do all year.
After all, how could I do justice to the past year without making any style or grammar mistakes?
And should I use the inverted pyramid style? Or go for a punchy one-liner to start the speech?
Would John care if I accidentally left a participle dangling?
But before I started to stress, I realised it was Jschool that gave me these options. It is through everything that we learnt this year that I was even able to consider these introductions.
Because we now know what is newsworthy, we know the difference between a straight article and a feature and we know how to fix a passive sentence.
We know our ethics and boundaries but we also know when to push for answers.
And I guess that’s what journalism is all about – getting the balance right.
During the year we became persistent yet polite, approachable yet professional, good writers but even better communicators.
Megan Lloyd, the editor of South Australia’s Sunday Mail, once told me that all journalists need to be fixated on the word ‘why.’
And I think everyone sitting here today, all of who look fantastic in black robes, is fixated on this word. We all look at the world around us differently, constantly asking questions and striving to learn.
Now, journalists can cop a lot for being untrustworthy, unreliable and lazy. But I know that every 2011 Jschool graduate always has and hopefully always will work their hardest to be the best journalist they can be.
As the year progressed I think – and I hope John and Desley won’t contradict me here – we became great journalists with great potential.
We are a fairly unique class. Perhaps one of the most original that Jschool has ever seen.
After all I don’t think any other year had Jarrod – our very own male model.
We also had Luke, a vegan who was almost arrested by the police at KFC, an adventurous group who decided to take a mid-week break to Byron and Rhianna. I mean Ryanna. Rhiannon? We had her too.
Craig provided the class with regular wise insights; a habit that eventually got nicknamed “Craigisms,” Tash added a little spice to each class debate and Brayden even got John say “yea yea yea” once.
We even had a class romance of Broliver – a completely fictitious relationship between Oliver and myself.
Unfortunately, we did lose a couple of valued members of the class. PK, the favourite to give today’s address, was especially missed during the year.
But everyone here today deserves to be here. We have worked hard, made contacts and impressed editors during our internships.
We found the courage to ring councillors, chase prosecutors in court and confront strangers for vox-pops.
So thank you to everyone who helped us get here today. Thank you to the guest lecturers, who taught us about the courts, parliament, photojournalism and various other journalistic skills.
Thank you to Dave Stuart, who is here today, for passing on some of his filming wisdom.
Now if Desley and John could come up to the front?
Thanks to Desley. Desley, who had us frequently shaking in our boots before a news conference, was simply amazing. With her constant pushing and high expectations, we all read the papers, took notice of the world around us and worked hard to improve our writing. Good luck and have fun in retirement, Desley. Jschool next year will not be the same without you.
And, of course, thank you John. You taught us so much this year and gave us an amazing opportunity to become great journalists. Thank you for bearing with us when we got a bit rowdy and thank you for joining in on the occasion.
Finally, thank you to my classmates. You have all been a fantastic bunch of people to see everyday. I sincerely hope none of us forget what we have learnt this year and continue to strive to be better writers.
A lot of what 2012 will bring is up in the air. But I think Doctor Seuss sums up the promise of next year perfectly in his book “Oh the places you’ll go.”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
With the knowledge and enthusiasm we have today, I hope every one of us will be able to succeed in making a difference.