IVLP Alumni Spotlight features U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni as they reflect on the impact of the program and how it has affected their work and lives. Here we feature one alumna who participated in a Multi-Regional project for journalists and media professionals. The participant spent three weeks in the United States examining how new technologies shape the way news is gathered and how broadcast media influences and reflects American society. More information about Erin’s experience on the program can be found here: “Digital Media in the U.S. & Australia: IVLP Alumna Shares Key Takeaways from Exchange”
Visitor: Erin Vincent
Title: Executive Producer, ABC News Breakfast
Country of Origin: Australia
Itinerary: Washington, DC; Syracuse, NY; Portland, OR; and Chicago, IL
IVLP Project: Broadcast Journalism: New and Traditional Media (MRP) 2015
What have you been up to since the program?
Since returning from the IVLP, my role at the ABC has expanded to take on more national content production and special projects from Melbourne. In addition to my role as Executive Producer for the ABC’s national television breakfast program – ABC News Breakfast, I am launching an exciting new project called The Story Hunters. This is a video journalist concept which will deliver original and engaging content for the ABC’s online catch up service called iview. I am also overseeing politically themed video content for programs and online – in the lead up to the Australian and U.S elections. A great example of this content can be found here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-21/donald-trump-meets-game-of-thrones/7187228.
What one lesson that you learned or idea that you gained on IVLP have you applied to your work?
One of the biggest things for me was the way American media outlets enthusiastically embrace collaboration. It’s something that Australian media outlets, including the ABC, are doing more of but there is still a tendency to view other media outlets as competitors here. I found American media, particularly new media, is much more receptive to content sharing and cross promotion. The Huffington Post is a great example, drawing on other media outlets to make sure they are posting fresh content every 58 seconds.
What message would you like to share with the people who hosted and met with you in the U.S.?
I was confident going into this program that I would take away great professional insights but I had little idea of the friendships and cultural experiences that would remain with me long after the trip. Our group was an incredibly diverse mix of 22 journalists from very different parts of the world, mostly the Middle East, Africa and Asia. We had an incredible group dynamic and shared many great experiences. Most of us remain in contact with each other – largely communicating online and via a WhatsApp group we created on the tour. Not only did I learn a great deal about broadcast media in the United States, I learned a great deal about press freedom and the way the media operates in other countries. An example of this came from the experience of a Saudi Arabian journalist in our group, who encountered great difficulties leaving her country to join us. She was questioned while trying to clear customs about why she was attempting to leave Saudi Arabia as a female journalist travelling alone. She was eventually able to join us two days into the program. It was also a huge eye opener hearing about what she and her family had endured both personally and professionally in order for her to pursue her career dreams. She became the first female television presenter in her province of Saudi Arabia, which many people in her community have publicly questioned and strongly criticized.