Dear MDA Supporters,

In our November issue, we put the spotlight on our inaugural CEO Mariam Veiszadeh. We announce the 10 winners of MDA’s summer internships and their placements in various newsrooms around Australia. There are details about our upcoming Canberra-based political fellowships and MDA’s soon to be released Disability Reporting Handbook.

It’s been a huge and exciting month for MDA.

In this issue:

  • Spotlight On: MDA’s inaugural Chief Executive Officer, Mariam Veiszadeh.
  • Our Federal Election Political Fellowships in partnership with Google News Initiative: Applications close soon.
  • MDA’s Summer Internship: Announcing the 10 brilliant winners.
  • Disability Reporting Handbook: All the launch details ahead of International Day of People with Disability.

Spotlight On: MDA’s inaugural Chief Executive Officer, Mariam Veiszadeh

MDA's inaugural CEO Mariam Veiszadeh

When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to be a TV news anchor, in particular, I wanted to be Sandra Sully! I didn’t however see anyone like me working as a TV news anchor at the time so it was not a career that I seriously considered.

Why does media diversity matter to you?

I have been effectively speaking and writing about cultural diversity for the past decade as it’s a topic that is very close to my heart. 

I was always cognisant of being “different” and therefore instinctively looked for role models in popular media. When I was a teenager, I desperately wanted to be a TV news anchor, in particular, I wanted to be Sandra Sully! I didn’t however see anyone like me working as a TV news anchor at the time, so it was not a career that I seriously considered. I then went on to become a lawyer but have always been passionate about championing cultural diversity within the media landscape. My TedXSydney talk in 2017 discusses the importance of cultural diversity and the apparent lack of it within the top echelons of Australian society, which made my passion for the topic grow even more.

From Afghan refugee to CEO in your 30s, how important is that for other women of colour to see?

The response in the past week has been overwhelming as I’ve received so many wonderful messages from others who have commented on the fact that my appointment has served as encouragement for them. I know firsthand that it can be really disheartening and at times debilitating, when you regularly face systemic and other kinds of barriers within the workplace. I’ve endured a lot in my own career as a woman of colour (including previously as an identifiable Muslim woman) and have sought to channel that negative energy into working harder towards smashing that double glazed cultural ceiling not only for myself but to help pave the way for other women as well.

I intend on not only contributing towards the “critical mass” of women in leadership roles but I’d like to take on the role of “critical yeast” (Lederach’s concept) – proactively helping others rise up! 

What are you hoping to achieve with MDA?

MDA has already kicked some enormous goals since its launch and that’s a testament to its fierce powerhouse co-founders Antoinette Lattouf and Isabel Lo, the wonderful advisory board and the dedicated volunteer state chapters. 

I hope to build upon this incredible success and ensure MDA is a permanent fixture in the Australian media landscape – at least until we meet all our objectives and then there will no longer be a need for us!

One tangible thing that is still lacking in media outlets is having diversity and inclusion strategies that spell out plans on how to address significant representation issues. If there’s no real plan and ways to measure what does and doesn’t work, change won’t happen. 

Can you tell us briefly what’s on the cards in 2022 for MDA ?

We have some exciting projects on the go and next year we look forward to releasing Part 2 of our ground-breaking research Who Gets to Tell Australian Stories. We will also be continuing with our paid summer internships which have been great and often convert into industry jobs. We’ll also roll out our inaugural Political Fellowships, for diverse young people to cover the federal election and we’ll launch our Canberra Chapter. Stay tuned for much, much more!

How closely will you be working with Founders Isabel Lo (who is now in New York) and Antoinette Lattouf who is focusing on a book, documentary and television show?

What Isabel, Antoinette and I all have in common is we are all “doers” and we are incredibly passionate about ensuring Australian media walks the walk and not just talks the talk when it comes to media diversity. We also love amplifying and supporting others to succeed. We will be working collaboratively to continue the great successes of MDA and I am indebted to them both for trusting me to continue to take MDA to the next level.  

MDA's Federal Election Political Fellowships

For the first time ever, with the generous support of Google News Initiative, Media Diversity Australia is offering Federal Election Political Fellowships.  

The project will place three young Australians in leading political bureau within the Canberra’s Press Gallery during the 2022 Federal Election campaign.

The Canberra based fellowships project will help address an obvious gap in the media: culturally diverse perspectives in the coverage of Australian federal politics. 

The eight-week fellowships will commence in early 2022 and the exact dates will be confirmed once the election is called.

The fellowship recipients will be mentored and supported by an MDA project manager and receive training by Google News Initiative.

If you know anyone under the age of 30 who would be interested and would benefit from this opportunity please share the link and help spread the word. Applications close at 5pm AEST on Friday, 26th November 2021. 

Click the link here to learn more. 

Announcing MDA’s Summer Internship Winners

MDA's Summer Internship Winners (1/2)
MDA's Summer Internship Winners (2/2)

MDA’s Summer paid internships, 2022 include 10 media outlets participating and supporting meaningful pathways into some of the country’s most reputable media outlets. After careful deliberation and a thorough interview process, MDA’s summer internship program has placed 10 journalism students in various newsrooms around Australia.

Congratulations to the 10 deserving and driven winners of the Summer paid internship 2022 and thanks to  Google News Initiative for supporting this important initiative.  Our successful applicants are: : 

  • Manan Luthra (NSW) from University of Sydney with The Nytimes 
  • Morsal Haidari (SA) from University of South Australia for ABC News
  • Ricky Kirby (NSW) from UTS: University of Technology Sydney with Mamamia
  • Sohani Goonatillake (ACT) from  Monash University with Mix 106.3 Canberra
  • Angela Ho (WA) from Curtin University with 10 News First
  • Tahnee Maxwell (QLD) from Griffith University with The Courier Mail
  • Shazma A Gaffoor (VIC) from La Trobe University with 9 News
  • Daniel Yong (WA) from Curtin University with The West Australian
  • Zahra Al-Hilaly (WA) from Murdoch University with 7NEWS 
  • Rachel Evans (VIC) from Monash University with ABC Everyday

We are so proud of the summer internship winners and cannot wait to see them shaping the future of journalism. 

Disability Reporting Handbook (Launching on the 23rd of November 2021)


Media Diversity Australia (MDA) in partnership with disability organisation Hireup, Griffith University and Getty Images is launching its latest newsroom must-have in the form of the Disability Reporting Handbook. 

This journalism resource to guide better reporting of people with disability is available free to everyone and can be downloaded from MDA’s website from the 23rd of November 2021. 

It is an informative and practical handbook which includes advice on correct language and terminologies, ways to avoid common mistakes, tips on making content more inclusive, and a contacts database.  

MDA pulled together a dedicated team of media professionals – all with lived experience of disability – to produce this practical guide on how to better represent people with disability. Many thanks to the Disability Handbook team for sharing their lived experience of disability and how it is treated by the media. 

In July 2019, MDA produced a similar resource for media professionals reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and issues. Since its launch, our Indigenous Reporting Handbook has been downloaded thousands of times and is being used by newsrooms and journalists across the country. 

Co-founder and co-chair Antoinette Lattouf expects the DRH to be just as well received by media professionals and others wanting to get it right when it comes to diversity.

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: