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Let’s Talk: The Young Arts and Journalism Awards with Volker Janssen

BY Alexandria Abishegam / Student View | 29-Aug-2017
A month ago, I sat down to have a chat with one of the founding members of the Young Arts and Journalism Awards in Australia, Volker Janssen. The art and journalism scene has always intrigued me, with so many new ways of expression and the rise of social media, the industry has become an even tougher nut to crack into. As many may already know, it is not the lack of content, but the lack of quality that is in demand. To combat this issue, the YAJA was set up to give students an opportunity to showcase their talents and express themselves in a unique form. With graduates struggling to find meaningful work experience, they now have a community that will support them.

Alex: How did you come up with the idea for YAJA?

Volker: I was working at Swinburne University in Melbourne and was involved in the careers department. I was trying to get students together with graduate employers and I found that Engineering, IT, Business all those kind of students were able to find meaningful work experience. Unfortunately, when you looked at humanities, social sciences and the arts none of them got anything really out of their studies except their theoretical foundation. They couldn’t really express themselves and that’s where we got the idea to put the YAJA together.

Alex: What does YAJA mean and what do you want students to get out of it?

Volker: YAJA (Young Arts and Journalism Awards), basically what we want is to help students express themselves to an online audience. As you know every job that you do now days you have to know about the online world. This is an alternative to not finding any meaningful work experience for a graduate employer.

Alex: Do the entries have to be on the subject of art?

Volker: We say that it is about arts, design and culture. However, culture is a very broad topic, we encourage students to look at the target audience which comes from the Arts News Portal. If you want to, you can even write about accounting but it has to have some arts, design or culture aspect. If you are able to make that bridge than why not.

Alex: What is the Arts News Portal?

Volker: Erik Rathmayr established the Arts News Portal a few years back, it is a crowd source free news feed where anybody who is engaged professionally in the arts can update the audience on whats happening. This occurs on a global scale, in fact with the YAJA we get entries from Berlin, Montreal, New York. Although the focus is in Australia it connects to a community from around the world.

Alex: If your getting entries from around the world, what are the requirements to enter?

Volker: You have to be a current student at university level or graduated in the last 3 years. It doesn’t matter where you live as long as you can express yourself in English and cater to the target audience.

Alex: When do you take in entries?

Volker: Entering the YAJA is ongoing, the end of October is the final cut off date but anything that is submitted after the deadline goes into draw for next year. It doesn’t matter when you submit your article it is always accepted.

Alex: Do you only accept articles and what is the length of each article/video etc?

Volker: This is open to students and we accept various types of entries including articles, videos, photo essays. When it comes to videos it shouldn’t be more than 5 minutes long, even with articles its very hard to engage people so adding a video, audio, pictures is great etc. as long as its contributing to the article. That’s fantastic!

An example of this, is a video put together by some students in Hamburg. They filmed a video of a love story where this girl was running around the city of Hamburg, at the end you realise she is in love with the city. A very nice idea and very well done.

Alex: Do you help the students in anyway to get media opportunities?

Volker: Yes! We have a Facebook group (check below to join) which list all the current media opportunities available this can be a interviews, gallery openings, movie premiers etc. (www.facebook.com/groups/YAJATALK)

Alex: Do you have any advice for the students in Journalism?

Volker: The best thing is to practice using digital media, when you look at Vice, Buzz Feed they got their website, social media etc. What I realise is a lot of people are coming back to magazines which is the new trend coming back so students should look out for that.

Alex: That’s great! We hope to get more students on board with the YAJA!

If you would like to enter the YAJA Awards 2017, submit your entries here www.artnewsportal.com/YAJA by the 30th of October.