Jason Om is an award-winning journalist with ABC News. He is currently a reporter on 7.30 and appears on ABC News Breakfast and the ABC News Channel. Previously, he has worked for ABC Life, Lateline and ABC Radio. He began his career as a TV cadet at SBS. You can watch his video series ‘Thanks’ on iView. Jason tweets at @jason_om.
What advice would you give to a young journalist starting out in the industry?
Go in with a giant bulldust detector! We’re living in a constant state of misinformation. Scepticism and paying close attention to the facts and what people are saying is something every young journo should have. For journos of colour (POC), I would say don’t let anyone run you down.
You received an award for your mental health reporting – do you have any tips on how to report responsibly in this area?
Yes, that was the Margaret Tobin Award for a story I did about a spate of suicides in a small town. I was working in South Australia as a correspondent for ABC Radio at the time, and I remember sitting under some gum trees with the sister of a man who took his own life and crying along with her while I held the microphone. It’s significant when families speak up, and you need to be sensitive to them. You also need to accept they have a right to privacy if they say no to you. A really useful resource for journalists is the national Mindframe guidelines around reporting on mental health.
For a press release to be eye-catching, what should it contain?
For me, it needs to be direct, pithy and to the point. Most importantly, it needs to be topical. There’s more chance of an idea succeeding if it is timely. The idea should be strong enough without needing overkill. A release should also live up to what it’s promising.
For TV journos, we need pictures to go with the story, so make it easy for us to either shoot them ourselves or provide a link where we can download unrestricted vision. Above all, I think talent with lived experience makes for a strong story.