Grace McKinnon, Melbourne City News Reporter
“No other media were there, it was just too wet, too late at night, and I filed the story on my phone, lying underneath a car to try and get some protection.”
Melbourne City News reporter Grace McKinnon recalls one of her first breaking news shifts, arriving late at night to the scene of an accident in “torrential rain”.
“I had to leave my car at the end of the street because they’d blocked off the whole street. And I’d left so quickly to get to this story that I’d left my jacket at home, and my notebook fell apart from the rain, I couldn’t write on it,” she says.
“After that I became a very well prepared breaking news reporter with a go-to bag, and back up everything… I really learnt my lesson but it was my first front page, so it was a memorable moment.”
Grace has been the sole reporter for Melbourne City News, the new local News Corp Leader for Melbourne CBD and Yarra City Council, since it launched last year.
At 26 years old, she already has several years experience in various roles including Editorial Assistant, Breaking News Reporter, and Social Media Editor at the Herald Sun.
She says breaking news reporting often involves working early and late shifts, monitoring emergency alert sites, and then rushing to developing events, accidents or crime scenes where a person has sometimes recently passed away.
“When you arrive at a breaking news scene … it’s important to be empathetic and respectful of families there, because you’re often the first one that they might speak to on what could be the worst day of their lives,” Grace says.
“It can be very intimidating going to a place where you don’t know anyone and you’re this scary media person who wants to get information. But there’s a way to do it where you can be empathetic, and for the family to tell the story that they would like of their loved one.”
At Melbourne City News, Grace also spends a lot of her time covering the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, council meetings, and other community and business news.
Initially interested in music journalism, Grace says it was during her time spent volunteering at youth media organisation SYN that she began to consider pursuing a career in news media.
“I think it really prepared me for what I’m doing at the moment, producing things in a day and not being scared to call people,” she says of her Executive Producer role for the SYN radio news program.
“There’s such a great community, and it really does give young people a chance to produce the programs they want.”
Being now too old to present on-air at the youth radio station, Grace is continuing her involvement with SYN as Vice President on the board.
Grace’s PR pitching preferences:
“I like when people send me data that’s relevant, I enjoy data.
“I appreciate when [press releases] are relevant to my patch, so Melbourne and Yarra for me at the moment. I also appreciate if it’s short and sweet. If the description on the email or the first sentence can tell me what it is and whether it’s relevant to me it’s fantastic.
“I try my best to reply to every email, if there’s anything that’s relevant to Melbourne or Yarra, within my patch, I will do my best to respond, and consider it as a pitch."