Name: Jackson Stiles
Course: Bachelor of Journalism
Year graduated: 2014
Current position: Money Editor at The New Daily
What was it like breaking into the industry? Was it more “who you know” than “what you know”?
I got my first job in journalism through a tutor at Monash University. He put in a good word for me based on the marks I’d been getting in the course. It’s been the same ever since: you can earn good commendations. I’d like to think that if you work hard, you’ll get to know the right people.
What is a “day in the life” of your current role?
I spend the average morning catching up on the news cycle, pitching stories in morning meeting, and commissioning stories from reporters. Late morning and early afternoon is generally spent doing my own interviews and writing. Late afternoon is a mad dash to meet deadline! That’s typically when I am polishing off my stories and sub-editing those of others, with plenty of headlines, rewrites, and photo library searching. Of course, breaking news always throws the best laid plans into chaos.
What was a key lesson you learnt at Monash that translated into your workplace?
Monash taught me the value of a good question. Being a skilled interviewer is crucial. At different times you need to be curious, unflappable, dogged, pushy, cunning, a quick thinker. You can never practice interviewing enough.
If you could go back and do your degree again, is there anything you’d change? Subject choice? Time management? Internships?
Yes, I’ve always regretted not being able to do the investigative unit. Investigative journalism is less popular these days, but I believe it has transferable skills to all other types of journalism.
What skill (or skills) would you recommend aspiring journos acquire before getting into the industry?
Angles! A story is nothing without an angle. You need to know that an ‘angle’ is the point or theme of your story. It’s not enough to tell your editor that you want to write ‘about’ something. You must have a precise way into the story. And you need to be able to imagine six or seven different angles for every story, and then develop the news sense to be able to pick the angle that is most interesting and informative to your readers.
When you were a child, what was your dream job?
Journalist or lawyer! I guess the lesson is, aim low and you won’t be disappointed. (I jest).
What is your dream job now?
Ever since I started in journalism, it was my dream to eventually make it into finance reporting. Luckily, I made it.
Who do you look up to most in the industry?
Bruce Guthrie, editorial director at The New Daily. He came from a similar working-class background; is able to write and edit across any type of journalism; and bounced back better than ever from a bitter experience at The Herald Sun to found The New Daily. You can read the tale in his 2010 book Man Bites Murdoch.
Have you kept in touch with any of your fellow alumni?
Yes, a lot of fellow Monash graduates have found their way to The New Daily.
Do you follow any sports teams?
I’m more of a cinema buff, although I admit to enjoying the occasional UFC fight.
What’s your coffee order?
Flat White. It’s not very Melbourne of me, I know. I must admit to not having yet joined the third wave of caffeine.