Rhian Deutrom, 21, graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism in December 2011 and a view to breaking into television news in Australia, but a month-long trip with family to Sri Lanka has inspired her to consider a significantly different path.
Rhian, whose father was born in Sri Lanka, spent a month working as a sub-editor and reporter for Ceylon Today and The Sunday Leader.
“Sri Lankan people are the warmest, most welcoming people in the world, with a fascinating and complex history and culture. I had an exceptional time working with the journalists on the two newspapers,” says Rhian.
“The stories that I was covering were at times, controversial and profoundly interesting. I felt so grateful to have the opportunity to work there.
“I have focused on television news throughout my degree, and would love to eventually work as a reporter for a news or current affairs program. However the skills that I learnt at the School of Journalism and Communication helped me to hold my own at the news desk as well.
“From sub-editing to travelling on assignments and calling emergency services to follow up leads, I was fully immersed in the industry and brought the news to the people of Sri Lanka. It made me reconsider my many career options”.
Although Rhian has spent time in Sri Lanka since she was two years old, working in the country provided a different experience.
“Almost as soon as I arrived I was taken out on assignment to a rural area to cover a story. I also covered stories on politics, interviewing some of Sri Lanka’s most influential people. It gave me such a different, richer perspective on a country attempting to rebuild after a devastating civil war.
“I feel that a culture of robust and impartial news and current affairs reporting is essential for the wellbeing of a country. It felt fantastic that I could contribute in this way”.
Rhian is now considering her future options in light of her recent experience.
“I will be commencing a Masters degree in Communication, focusing on communication for social change. It is an emerging area that delves into the power of dialogue in all forms for bringing about positive social change.
“I will be returning to Sri Lanka in the future to continue my work there,” she adds.