Get to know City Hub Columnist Tileah Dobson
Tileah Dobson is a newcomer to the media industry, having only started her first role in 2021 for the independent-run The Sydney Sentinel, and is now currently writing for City Hub in Sydney while also in her final year of university.
Medianet sat down with Tileah to discuss her career so far, and how she found her way into the Australian media industry.
What’s one thing about working in this industry you didn’t expect when you first started?
One thing I didn’t expect from working in the industry is just how fast the news is! It’s one thing knowing that the news landscape is constantly going, but it’s so different when you begin to experience it for yourself.
I often find myself just sitting in awe and wondering if the news ever takes a break, maybe a nap, or go for a run - and it does not! It makes me glad I chose this profession as there’s always something to report on.
Did you always want to work in media? What first inspired you to start studying journalism?
The media industry did not even pop on my radar when I was graduating high school back in 2014. I kind of fell into it by accident! I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and felt pressured to have a plan.
I originally wanted to do something with animals but that fell through. I then figured I could be a chef since I was good at cooking and underwent my chef apprenticeship. But by 2016 though, I hated it and I was miserable. It took the death of my nan to realise life was too short to be stuck in a job I hated.
So, I then quit and decided to head to university. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do and luckily found that Western Sydney University offered a degree called Creative Industries. It looked at not only the Creative Industries themselves but the business and laws aspects of it too.
From there, I did an introductory course in creative writing and journalism.
What inspired me were two recent graduates who came to talk to our class about their jobs in media. They told us what to expect in the industry, what first inspired them, etc. It was then I realised I could make a career out of it as I’ve always loved to write. Fanfiction and original fiction were what first put me onto writing, and so combining that with my love of the news and keeping up to date are how I decided to continue pursuing journalism.
What makes student journalism so important? What are the main issues surrounding student-run media that you come across?
Student journalism is so important to help get any budding journalists’ feet wet. It helps them to get through the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ as I like to call it, where you don’t think you’re good enough against the rest of your peers. What you learn in the classroom can help you translate those skills and further develop them through student journalism.
However, the two biggest issues I’ve seen with student-run media is that no one takes you seriously, which can be very discouraging.
The other is that there isn’t someone who has worked in the industry who oversees it. The students are kind of just left up to their own devices which I don’t think helps the students really at all.
And what makes writing and working primarily digital and online so unique?
I wouldn’t say it’s unique to work and write primarily online, I think it’s just adapting to the times as we are in the third age of communication: Digital.
I will say that it does help that it’s easier to fix mistakes that you may have missed or add new information to online articles than printed media though!
What's a commonly held belief about your job that you disagree with?
That you always know what’s going on in either the world, the country, or your local community area!
While I do my best to remain on top of things, sometimes it just slips through the cracks and when I’m asked if I knew something and I don’t, there are always comments like “but you’re a journalist. It’s your job!”
I work at Dan Murphys too but I don’t know the name of every single whiskey or bottle of wine!
You also have experience working as a podcaster. Do you feel like you have a different relationship and way of engaging with audiences than you do with writing?
I’m not going to lie, my brief stint in podcasting was a dumpster fire.
This really ties into what I said about student-run media being so unorganised. My university really wanted to create a podcast and they brought me in to do it since I did a podcasting course.
I set it up, ensured everything was ready, and did two episodes before my time was up and it wasn’t continued after I left. So I can’t exactly answer this fully but I will say that the difference between me writing online and me speaking is that I sound way smarter on paper.
I’ve had people read my articles and then hear me speak and it’s almost like two different people.
What has working in these different roles taught you the most about yourself?
That it’s healthy to set boundaries, have realistic expectations, and not be taken advantage of.
I used to be a real people-pleaser and because of my anxiety and depression, I didn’t want to let people down or make people mad. Things that would be the smallest thing to some people would be a huge deal to me.
And after working in the industry whilst still studying, combined with therapy, I’ve realised I let people walk all over me and sacrificed too much of myself in order to please them.
I don’t have to be switched on all the time and learning when to put on the journalist hat and when I can be myself has been a really important lesson about working in this industry.
I also saw on your Twitter you are a creative, fun-loving person! Do you feel as though your job allows you to be creative?
To some extent; I am able to creatively write and flow the story of a news article, as long as the facts are still there. It’s not as creative as I possibly would like it to be but then again, I do enjoy the straight fact-driven nature of news journalism.
I think I’ll leave my creativity for my hobbies.
Do you think it is possible to enjoy work and remain impartial as a journalist whilst still remaining politically conscious?
I think it is possible to remain impartial as a journalist while keeping your core values and political beliefs.
The core part of being a journalist is to deliver information to the citizens in order for them to then make the best decisions in their life, community, society, and government. You’re giving them the tools to make their own choice.
I identify as a left-centre progressive person and I have friends and family who don’t share my political views. Still, I’ve learned through these relationships, as well as my job, that you need to put my opinions and beliefs aside in order to remain neutral and report the facts.
I enjoy listening, watching, and talking to people with different opinions. It kind of opens up the world a little.
What has been your most memorable experience during your career, so far?
My most memorable experience so far is going to Mardi Gras Parade, with the free ticket just the cherry on top. I had never been to Mardi Gras and had always wanted to go as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and to be in the stands, watching the parade and feel all the positive energy from not only the people participating in the parade but from the crowd too.
My second favourite experience would be when I attended the Students Strike For Climate protest earlier this year before the federal election. I give my hat off to all the students who were studying for their HSC while still protesting for their beliefs and the fight for a better future.
What is your research process?
My research process in terms of looking for information for an article would be to see if anyone else has reported on it. If not, I check social media and council websites. Or sometimes I’m given a lead on a story from someone like Wendy Bacon who forwarded me an email on Inner West Councillor Pauline Lockie’s motion in response to the rise in food theft.
From there, I would contact relevant people like the CEO of Addison Road Food Pantry, Rosanna Barbero, who was part of the solution to the council motion.
I’m also very thankful to be born in the age of technology that we’re in today as I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been to gain access to information for stories without Google!
And finally, what are your pitching preferences?
Contacting via email or phone is best for me.
I’m a bleeding heart. I love writing and promoting charity organisations, feel-good stories, or highlighting a particular figure for their work.
I’m also partial to stories about topics that get people talking and stories that hold politicians accountable for their actions.