Hi MDA supporters,

This month, we put the spotlight on Rashell Habib, the first woman of colour in a director role in Australian television. Rashell is the head of Digital News and Strategy at Viacom/CBS.  We are also delighted to announce the 13 Community Voices participants in Melbourne. Our CEO, Mariam Veiszadeh will be at our upcoming networking event in Canberra, so please come along if you can. Ever wondered what a day in the life of an MDA intern looks like? Angela Ho at 10 First News shares her daily routine with us! The Jessie Cox Audio Fellowship applications are now open. And finally, catch up on what MDA has been doing so far this year! 

In this issue:

  • Spotlight On: Rashell Habib, the first woman of colour in a director role in Australian television.  
  • Community Voices Melbourne: Announcing the 13 participants winners
  • A Day in the Life of a MDA intern: Angela Ho at 10 News First Perth
  • MDA’s Canberra Networking event: RSVP now
  • Jessie Cox Audio Fellowship: Apply now!
  • MDA Impact: Our progress so far (2022 edition)

Spotlight On: Rashell Habib, the first woman of colour in a director role in Australian television.

It is a much tougher industry for women and women of colour, but don’t let either label identify you entirely- they are an important part of who you are but you are still forming who you are.

Can you give us a run-through of your career to date and a brief overview of your current role?

I started off as a cadet journalist for a local newspaper over 15 years ago, I am a print refugee, I then worked on multiple publications before moving into social and digital as news.com.au’s  first social media editor. From there I moved to Netflix, before becoming news editor at 10 daily then social and digital editor for 10 news and now Head of Digital News & Strategy. 

My role at the moment is a combination of content and diversifying news delivery to Australians.

As the first woman of colour in a director role in Australian television, what advice do you have for other women of colour who look up to you?

Honestly, it is a much tougher industry for women and women of colour, but don’t let either label identify you entirely- they are an important part of who you are but you are still forming who you are. Always strive to be the best at what you do, not the best woman, not the best person of colour, the best

The media landscape is constantly evolving, what are some issues that you would like to see the next wave of journalists addressing?

I think looking at helping younger audiences digest news and events without the use of sensationalism and talking down to audiences. At the moment publications use clickbait, celebrity news, salacious headlines etc to get people engaged, but we need to give audiences MUCH more credit and look at a way news fits into their lives and the new landscape, not changing what we report on.

MDA has recently launched the #ThingsIveHeard campaign which aims to highlight the often damaging comments many of us hear in the media landscape. Is there a personal anecdote and/or a divisive remark you overheard that you can share with us?

I have been lucky in that almost every newsroom I have worked in I have worked with open minded and truly talented people and leaders that built an environment that doesn’t allow for this. I think it’s more the unconscious bias that seeps through and a misunderstanding of multiple cultures, which doesn’t come from a place of malice but misunderstanding.

Though in saying that post-September 11, as a teen and with a surname like mine I did often, from friends get ‘careful she might blow you up’ comments. But like I said it didn’t come from malice but more a lack of understanding and empathy.

Photo of 2021 Community Voices participants

After the outstanding success of our Sydney program, we are expecting another fantastic outcome for our Melbourne participants with them becoming regular contributors to local and national media.

The second phase of the Community Voices initiative, which aims to connect people from underrepresented communities with news media, has kicked off with a new round of participants. It is the first time the program is being run in Melbourne.

Thirteen participants from Victoria will join Community Voices, an initiative from the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas and Media Diversity Australia, in 2022. Congratulations to the thirteen participants: 

  • Kimberly Clemencio is president of the Filipino-Australian Student Council of Victoria and a Study Melbourne Ambassador.
  • Emily Fioramonte is a paralegal at Lander and Rogers and is studying law at the University of Melbourne.
  • Daniel Haile-Michael is an engineering coordinator for the Mount Alexander Shire Council and chair of the Tigrian Community Association.
  • Bakr Hawari provides youth outreach support for the Victorian Board of Imams and is studying International Studies at Deakin University.
  • Charmaine Hunzwi is financial industry professional president of the Incubate Foundation, which offers professional support and opportunities for African Australians.
  • Kathy Jonathan is an Australian-Kenyan public relations strategist, who helps to raise the profile of African-Australian brands.
  • Harpreet Singh Kandra is a lecturer at Federation University and treasurer at the Siri Guru Nanak Darbar, a Sikh temple.
  • Akat Mayoum is a former South Sudanese refugee, student, labourer and a keen cricketer.
  • Saarah Ozeer is a director and co-founder of Bounce Refugee Youth Mentoring Program, who grew up in Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia.
  • Ruchika Rawat is the founder of Community Aid Australia and a project lead at the Transport Accident Commission.
  • Anaab Rooble is an Australian-Somali woman living with a disability, working as a human resources and finance manager at the Victorian Disability Worker Commission.
  • Saima Saberi is a former refugee from Afghanistan, who works as a volunteer lawyer, interpreter and consultant supporting migrant and refugee women.
  • Saththiyan Satchithanantham is principal at the Bharathi Academy, a Tamil-language school, and editor of Casey Tamil Manram, which promotes Tamil language and culture.

The program was open to Sydney residents in 2021, and  Media Diversity Australia and JNI are exploring opportunities to expand the program in other states in the future.

A Day in the Life of a MDA Intern: Angela Ho at 10 News First Perth

MDA Intern, Angela Ho at 10 News First

I arrive at 8:30AM, check in with the Chief of Staff (COS) for a preliminary briefing of the day’s news, who’ll assign you to a story with a partner journo & cameraman.

Sometimes it’s a court/crime gig, or its reviewing historic footage in the system & compiling recent past scripts etc to get an overview of the story. You’re usually out on the road and en route to court/crime scene by 9AM.

If it’s a feature story with a later start, I’ll sit in on the producer’s meeting at 10AM. The COS provides the rundown on all the day’s stories and the outlook/potential for each is discussed.

I aim to be back in the office by 2 PM at the latest (most scripting starts happening in the car when you’re on the road). 

Producers get busy from 3PM onwards, subbing journo’s scripts. Once I notice the newsroom kicking into gear I occupy myself by voicing, cutting & editing my own story together. It can be a time crunch from 4-5 PM to get all stories cut & edited and posted ready to air for the 5PM bulletin. When the bulletin goes live everyone hangs back to watch their story go to air and give feedback and support.

The sports bulletin goes live from Perth around 5:40, so I sometimes hang back to watch the broadcasting magic happen!

MDA’s Canberra Networking event: RSVP now!

MDA Networking Event (Canberra)

Are you interested in diversifying the media landscape in Australia? Come join MDA’s CEO, Mariam Veiszadeh in Canberra for a networking event on the 25th of March 2022 at 6pm. The location is yet to be confirmed (near parliament), so stay tuned and keep an eye out for event details on our socials. 

MDA is launching its ACT chapter soon and we would love to connect with you! 

The location details and event link will be available on our socials soon but if you would like to RSVP beforehand, please send an email to comms@mediadiversityaustralia.organd we’ll add you to the list. 

Jessie Cox Audio Fellowship: Applications are now open!

The Jesse Cox Audio Fellowship is now open for applications! Designed to support a mid-career Australian storyteller from any discipline looking to innovate and push audio storytelling. 

The fellowship offers $15,000 to the winning applicant, who’ll undertake a year-long program of targeted professional development. The fellow will also be supported with mentorships, professional introductions, networking opportunities, and in kind support relevant to their practice.

Applications are due midnight March 6 (AEST), find out more here: https://www.jcaf.org.au/apply 

MDA Impact: Our progress in 2022 so far

Community Voices:  An initiative from the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas and Media Diversity Australia which aims to connect people from under-represented communities with news media

Summer Internships:

  • Rachael Evans offered and accepted a paid casual position at ABC News Melbourne after her internship

  • Morsal Haidari was offered and accepted a position as the News Operations Assistant  at 10 News First, Perth, during her final year. She will also be trained to do entry level casual reporting shifts.

  • Angela Ho (Summer Intern 2021/2022) currently works as a Freelance Reporter for 10 News First Perth. 

  • Monique Pueblos (former MDA Summer Intern: 2019/2020) is currently a Cadet at SBS.

  • Olivia Nunes-Malek (Shortlist for MDA Summer Internship 2021/2022) is currently the Digital Producer at Network 10.

  • Abbir Dib (Former Summer Intern: 2019/2020) is currently working as the Associate Producer at 9NEWS Melbourne. 

Political Fellowships: 

  • Announced the three political fellowship winners and placed them in respectable outlets namely AAP, the Guardian and Sydney Morning Herald. 

  • The three fellowship winners, Khaled Al Khawaldeh, Katherine Wong and Famida Rahman had a political QandA session with Political reporter Nour Haydar and Ehsaan Veiszadeh (session recording available on socials soon). 

  •  Jacob Shteyman (Shortlist for Political Fellowships 2021/2022) currently works as  a Fact Checker at AAP.

Social campaigns: 

  • MDA launched the #ThingsIveHeard campaign to highlight the microaggressions that diverse journalists endure in a media landscape setting and received over 140 stories and testimonials. 

Want to help create a media that looks and sounds like Australia?

As a not-for-profit organisation, we rely on the help of our incredible volunteers. With your financial and volunteer support, we can continue to run programs to support culturally and linguistically diverse journalists, conduct agenda-setting research, run networking events, provide practical solutions for the media industry, and much more. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support the vital work we do, please click here.

About us

Media Diversity Australia (MDA) is a national not-for-profit organisation led by journalists and media professionals. Australia is culturally and linguistically diverse, and our media should be too. Established in 2017, MDA has a unique role as a champion of cultural diversity in Australian journalism and news media. We have a vision for a media industry with full and equal participation for culturally diverse people at all levels.

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