Earlier last week, Alex Tighe (BA(Media&Commun)(2017)BA(HONS) was announced as the recipient of the inaugural Mark Colvin journalism scholarship, honouring the life and work of the revered ABC journalist, who died in 2017 due to complications related to kidney disease.
Offered by the ABC in partnership with Kidney Health Australia, the 12-month paid cadetship will provide Alex with the opportunity to develop his editorial skills, experiment with a range of journalistic techniques and work on an in-depth story.
“Mark Colvin was an incredible journalist and a great man, and it’s humbling to hold a scholarship in his name. His legacy is an embodiment of all that’s best about the ABC: intellectual rigour, empathy and perpetual curiosity. I hope to do my part towards continuing that tradition at the ABC,” he said.
The announcement was made by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove at Admiralty House, as part of Kidney Health Australia’s 50th anniversary celebrations. ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie was also in attendance.
Alex Tighe is a worthy recipient of this honour. His work demonstrates the qualities of critical analysis, creativity and curiosity that Mark held so dear. I am confident that Alex will continue Mark’s great legacy at the ABC.
As part of the competitive application process, Alex was required to pitch a short-story idea that could be told across different platforms, focusing on some aspect of the kidney disease pathway. Having written about his mother’s kidney disease previously, Alex drew on his personal experience with the issue.
“Earlier this year my parents had gone through a paired kidney exchange, with my dad giving a kidney to make one available for my mum. Having seen my parents go through that process, I have a glimpse into the world of kidney disease – what it’s like inside a dialysis clinic, what dialysis does to a person, things like that. I hope that I can take that experience, and, with this ABC opportunity, do a little bit towards showing Australia what so many people suffer through.”
During his media studies at the University of Sydney, Alex undertook multiple internships, including one with the China Daily in Beijing and another at the ABC, which saw him work alongside veteran producers, contributing to the Four Corners investigation into Facebook and its commodification of user data. Alex attributes these professional experiences in helping him achieve his big break.
I realised early on in my degree that the most important criteria when applying for media roles is experience. That’s why it is so valuable to have the Media and Communications internships; they help break through the job market Catch-22 of needing experience to get experience. I have a lot to thank the department for.
Chair of the Department of Media and Communications, Associate Professor Tim Dwyer, said “We are all very happy that Alex has won this special scholarship in honour of Mark Colvin. In the highly competitive and fast changing news media environment, it means that Alex will gain access to excellence in ABC journalism training.”
The young Honours graduate has already amassed an impressive journalistic CV. Beginning as a host on community radio at age 13, Alex has worked consistently in community media as a writer, editor and radio producer, with his work appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Book Review and, most recently, as associate editor of the Neighbourhood Paper.
Alex intends to take full advantage of the opportunity and hopes the cadetship will act as a springboard into long-from, investigative reporting. “The ABC is the best place for that kind of journalism in Australia, no competition,” he said.
The scholarship will begin early next year. Until then, Alex plans on acquainting himself with world at large, with a steady diet of non-fiction reading over the summer.
“Mark Colvin was a huge reader, and I’ve been told that I should spend the next few months before I begin at the ABC reading as many books as I can. That sounds good to me.”