Happy New Year MDA supporters,

In our first newsletter of 2022, we put the spotlight on Michelle Elias, a former MDA summer intern placed with the New York Times(2020), now a working journalist and mentor guiding the new wave of paid summer interns. We also announce the three winners of MDA’s Federal Election Political Fellowships and their placements in some of the best newsrooms in Australia. We are also thrilled to introduce MDA’s upcoming campaign #ThingsIveHeard, which focuses on raising awareness and informing others of the biases and negative comments diverse journalists often endure. Our CEO, Mariam Veiszadeh is nominated for the Pro Bono Australia #2022Impact25 awards (vote now!). And last but certainly not least, we quickly chronicle everything MDA achieved in 2021 as we step into 2022 with bigger plans and an unstoppable drive to make an impact. 

In this issue:

  • Spotlight On: Former MDA summer intern, Michelle Elias
  • MDA’s Federal Election Political Fellowships: Announcing the 3 winners
  • Upcoming campaigns: #ThingsIveHeard
  • Pro Bono Australia #2022Impact25 nominee: MDA’s CEO Mariam Veiszadeh
  • MDA Impact: Our journey in 2021

Spotlight On: Michelle Elias, former MDA intern, working journalist and mentor

Michelle Elias

I scrolled past a tweet talking about how much the face of broadcast journalism in Australia has changed since MDA released their jarring report on the matter.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone who is about to enter the industry?

Journalism is our way to tap into the world we live in. Don’t overlook what’s right beside you. Listen closely to your community, your friends, coach, second cousin, et al. Who you know is different to the next person. An idea or perspective can come from anywhere, but more importantly, it will enrich and diversify the stories we hear. Your connection to that community or person can add insight and candour – use it.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience with MDA and what its mission means to you?

My Media Diversity Australia internship landed me in the New York Times’ Australia bureau for six weeks (dream!). My worldview grew instantly and I was talking to journalists in Hong Kong and all across Australia, thinking deeply about what it’s like to report for a global audience for the first time. 

 In one of the most celebrated newsrooms, MDA made me feel like I deserved to be there and grounded me with regular calls and check-ins. To this day, at times when I’m looking for advice, I’m still calling the connections I made at MDA. 

 On Twitter the other day, I scrolled past a tweet talking about how much the face of broadcast journalism in Australia has changed since MDA released their jarring report on the matter. It’s incredible what has been achieved in just a handful of years. There’s been a palpable push from newsrooms to have their journalists reflect the wider community and by default the wider conversation.

Tell us about your experience of being a mentor to the next wave of interns?

It’s still early days, but it’s been amazing to share the excitement, relive the nerves and quell the questions that plagued me just a couple of years ago. The media landscape is changing, and it’s an exciting time to be entering. 

 I’m hoping I can give the newcomers a person to call when they need advice – just like MDA did for me. This connection, which provides support and validation, is invaluable for CALD journalists who are underrepresented in the industry. 

As a mentor who has worked closely with the next wave of interns, what do you think the new generation of journalists are bringing to the table?

The next wave of journalists are bringing a lot of vigor (me included!). They’re reinventing the way we consume news, moving to social media apps like Instagram (think @TheDailyAus) and Tik Tok to tell stories. Newcomers know that multiplatform journalism now includes podcasts and Tik Tok pieces to cameras too, especially if you want to reach an audience their (my) age.

Left: Famida Rahman, Middle: Khaled Al Khawaldeh, Right: Katherine Wong

We are pleased to announce the three Political fellowship winners. 

  • Name: Katherine Wong (NSW)
  • Placement: Sydney Morning Herald

“I’m Kat and I am a recent Science/Arts graduate with some experience in student publications, and a passion for history, politics, and accessibility in journalism. When I talk to friends or family about politics, they usually tell me that they will vote for whichever politician their parents or friends recommend. This isn’t necessarily because they don’t care about politics, but rather, they lack the time or resources to get invested. And this is especially true in young and diverse communities.”


  • Name: Famida Rahman (ACT)
  • Placement: Australian Associated Press

“I have followed what many might consider to be the traditional Canberra career path, of working for the public service after finishing law school. Following a few years of government work, and of making impromptu art galleries on the pin up boards behind my desk, I decided to take the leap and put myself forward for something a little bit different.

Covering the 2022 Federal Election may open the doors to a new and exciting industry and career path. One where I can continue to place my experiences of growing up as an Australian-Bangladeshi woman professionally, and the value that my voice brings coming from this background. “


  • Name: Khaled Al Khawaldeh (NSW)
  • Placement: The Guardian

“Having spent the majority of 2021 rerunning old question time sessions for no apparent reason, receiving this fellowship comes as a welcome affirmation that my peculiar lockdown habits were not in fact a waste of time !! Truthfully, I have always wanted to be in the Canberra press gallery but doubted my ability to get there. So to be offered a placement to work there at what I believe will be one of the most consequential elections to date is genuinely a dream come true. Moreover, to do so for an institution that I truly believe in – the Guardian Australia  – still has me pinching myself!”

Upcoming campaigns: #ThingsIveHeard


The #ThingsIveHeard campaign aims to highlight the often damaging comments many of us hear on a regular basis that often leave us speechless while engaging in the media landscape whether as journalists, commentators, or general observers. Whether it is a personal anecdote where you are made to feel belittled or excluded in some way or conversations you’ve overheard that are riddled with overarching biases. We want to hear from you! Use the hashtag #ThingsIveHeard and tag @MediaDiverseAU on Twitter and share your stories with us. 

The objective of this campaign is to increase awareness by creating a medium to share lived experiences and shine a spotlight on the seemingly innocuous but damaging assumptions made about and to CALD and other minority communities. Under this hashtag, you can share comments made directly to you or things you have overheard. It can range from a personal anecdote to a story you’ve overheard from a complete stranger.

“Nearly 20 years ago, 3 executives told me I’d never be on ABCTV because I would not appeal to their audience.” #ThingsIveHeard  

– Fauziah Ibrahim 

Speaking out about your personal experience can be daunting and while reciting an overheard story, you can question if it is your story to tell so if you would like to share your stories anonymously please email your tweets to comms@mediadiversityaustralia.org and we will post it on your behalf.

Disclaimer: Media Diversity Australia will not tolerate any kind of harassment or targeted/ defamatory comments. While we want our audience to be able to freely express themselves via this campaign, we will not condone any kind of bullying.

Pro Bono Australia nominee: #2022Impact25 Awards

Pro Bono Australia: #2022Impact25

We are proud to announce that Mariam Veiszadeh, our CEO has been nominated for the Pro Bono Australia #2022Impact25 awards. 

These awards are an established accolade that recognise innovators and collaborators making a positive impact in the social sector and their communities. Mariam has been nominated for her inspiring work namely on the Action for Afghanistan campaign.

Please show your support by following the link and casting your vote. Voting closes on the 1st of February 2022

Vote for Mariam Veiszadeh here: https://www.impact25.probonoaustralia.com.au/2022-impact-25-nominees/veiszadeh 

MDA Impact: Our Journey until now (2021 edition)

2021 was a big year for MDA. We thought we’d share some of the highlights with you.

In 2022 MDA has even bigger plans – stay tuned! 

You can help MDA continue to have an impact. Donate here: https://www.mediadiversityaustralia.org/donate-now/

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.

Get in touch: