18 December 2008

A University of Queensland journalism student has won a $10,000 scholarship for her reporting of rural news.

Brooke Hargraves, who is in her second year of a Bachelor of Journalism, won the inaugural J.B. Fairfax Award for Rural Journalism for a story on sustainable farming techniques.

Ms Hargraves, originally from Maryborough, said she was overwhelmed to have won the award.

“It means a lot to me to have won this, it's been a little surreal really,” she said.

“As a journalism student who comes from a small town in rural Queensland, just to meet guys like John Fairfax and Vernan Graham from Rural Press and have had them read my work is incredible, to have those guys give me this award is amazing.

“It's definitely a confidence boost heading into my last year and trying to get into the industry.”

Ms Hargraves won the award with a story about research into the ability of farmers to store carbon emissions in soil.

“It was a great story, it was timely and it has a huge impact on the way a lot of people in rural and regional Australia will do business over the next 20 years,” she said.

Ms Hargraves said the $10,000 prize money would go toward study expenses, textbooks, fees and living expenses.

In addition to researching and writing her award-winning article, Ms Hargraves has worked hard outside her journalism studies to set herself apart from other students.

She has completed work experience at Brisbane Times, Channel 7 news, Australian Property Investor magazine and Country Biz magazine, as well as UQ’s Office of Marketing and Communications.

She is planning to do further work experience at Quest newspapers and Queensland Country Life next year.

Ms Hargraves said taking education beyond the classroom was essential to being a successful journalism student.

“The two biggest things a journalism student can do is never say never and say yes to everything,” she said.

“It's hard when you're learning skills in journalism to then trust them and put them into practice but it's the best way to go.

“If you think you might have found a story – write it, knock on any door and every door and ask for work experience; nine times out of 10, people are happy to show you what they do and give you a crack at doing it yourself.”

Ms Hargraves is due to graduate from the Bachelor of Journalism program in 2009, when she hopes to find a job in regional journalism.

Media: Tegan Taylor at UQ Communications (07 3365 2659).