Brittany Shanahan is a Melbourne journalist for News Corp Australia's Leader Community News. She files content - such as breaking news, health, law and order along with features - for the Diamond Valley Leader. Brittany's work has been published by more than a dozen publications, including the Herald Sun, The Age, Inside Football, Melbourne Stars, Jump Media and Marketing and Netball Victoria. She also hosted a segment called The Ivory Tower which investigated the electric car on Channel 31 and provided special comments for 3WBC Radio Station during the Victorian Football League season.
Why did you decide to study journalism?
Journalism can be incredibly rewarding. There are remarkable stories out there and people open their doors and hearts, spilling the most intricate details of their life, sometimes for the very first time. They might want to see change in the world or issue a powerful message - regardless you have been trusted to tell their story. In what other field can you do that? Don't get me wrong, it's a hard slog - long hours, low pay and strict daily deadlines - but it's also a privilege that shouldn't be taken for granted.
How did you get to where you are now?
Hard work. I knew I wanted to be a journalist from a young age so I worked out what exactly I needed to do and knuckled down. Journalism is a competitive industry so there wasn't an opportunity to waste time. I got my teeth stuck into voluntary work within a month of starting my journalism degree. I worked at 15 organisations, which led to a handful of paid roles, before I secured full-time employment at Leader Community News four months after graduating.
Do you have any tips/advice for aspiring journalists?
Read good writing. Whether it's written in a newspaper, magazine or book there is something you can always learn from other people's writing style. Never stop learning. Just because you've worn the over-priced black gown and thrown the odd-shaped hat in the air for the standard social media post doesn't mean your ability to learn has stopped. Take every opportunity to improve and diversify your skills.
What made you want to start a travel blog?
I love travelling, writing and taking photographs, so by starting my blog Out of the Office, I was able to combine all three elements. It gives me an opportunity to learn more about the world, share my experiences and a portal to keep all my memories (so I can reflect when the dementia has kicked in).
How is writing for your day job different to writing for your blog?
As a journalist at Leader, I have the opportunity to write matter-of-fact news pieces and feature-length stories that capture the reader's attention. I try and replicate that for my blog but instead on vastly different topics and locations. It's a great balance to have.
What has been your greatest challenge in your writing life and how have you overcome it?
Overcoming writer's block. As a journalist you have to meet strict daily deadlines and sometimes your creative juices aren't flowing as freely as they should be. So to get me on the right track I start thinking about structure and how I want readers to consume my piece. Once that's complete, I just start typing.