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What a journalism student learnt by meeting Team Oyeniyi – Guest Article

Journalism students

Journalism students on the job!

I am very pleased to publish our first guest article.  I will let Nat’s words speak for themselves.  A larger version of her “ugly” photo can be found on Guest Article coming up.  There were no constraints placed on our guest authors and although I reserved the right to edit, I have not changed a thing.  To all the media types reading, anywhere in the world, Nat and Freya will be seeking suitable positions after that final exam!

This is the opportunity for all our readers to see Team Oyeniyi through the eyes of completely unrelated people – objective observers.  Please enjoy Nat’s perspective and don’t be quiet – I’m sure she would like some feedback!

Nat, thank you for taking the time to write this article and we look forward to receiving Freya’s article in the coming days.

My name is Nat Yoannidis and my partner is Freya Cole. We are no doubt pictured somewhere on this page (I’m the ugly one)! We’re currently studying journalism at RMIT. As a part of our Advanced Television class we were required to film a current affairs story. After racking our brains for days to come up with an idea, our lecturer Jill told us about the Team Oyeniyi story. We were directed to this blog and decided it would make an amazing television story. When we decided to focus on Robyn and John’s story I guess we weren’t really sure what to expect. At first we thought we would be focusing on blended families and racism. However what we discovered was there was a much more dramatic and emotional story to tell.

John told us his story and did not hold back on details. He revealed his experiences in detention in this country and the subsequent depression he suffered. Of course, that was only the beginning. I won’t repeat the details of John’s background as they are already mentioned in this blog. His story shocked us both and when we got in the car to drive home we couldn’t stop talking about his emotional past. Robyn spoke about the health issues she suffered during the entire process.

Perhaps what surprised me the most was the general closeness of the entire family unit and the confidence of the children. Considering they have only been together for such a short period of time, they all get along so well and their interactions with Robyn are like they have been together for years. All of the kids have beautiful personalities and smiles. Occasionally they are a little cheeky (I have footage of Philip swinging on the swing and then launching himself to the ground!) As a family, the Oyeniyi’s are gorgeous and so accommodating. We only went out to their house twice but by the second time, I felt like I was a part of the family. It’s not easy to find a time when eight people can get together for filming but it was arranged. Robyn also helped provide us with photos and information for the story. She was also on hand for all of my last-minute questions, and there were a few!

I think from my perspective it really opened my eyes to not only the process asylum seekers have to go through to get through detention and residency but also the desperate situations that force people to flee their countries of origin. We are lucky to be born in a country like Australia but some people are not so fortunate. Robyn explained to us that she understood the reasons people get on the boats and risked their lives and so do I. Before this assignment I did not feel strongly about the topic one way or the other. I suppose I was really on the fence and could see arguments for both sides. Now I know exactly where I sit on the topic. People leave their homes for a reason – their living conditions are dangerous or undesirable. It’s not just for a holiday, they want to make a better life for themselves and their families. I think a lot of people in Australia are scared of the unknown and the media plays on this anxiety. This is unfair and will take a long time to change, if it ever does.

Once we gathered all of our footage (and there was a lot of it) we were faced with the near impossible task of fitting all the information into two minutes. My first attempt saw me go three minutes over the limit. One of the most important journalistic skills is to be able to condense and simplify a story. We both managed this by taking two completely different angles. I guess this shows just how much information we had to work with. My story was a brief (and I stress the term brief) profile piece and Freya took a more hard news angle in relation to the treatment of asylum seekers in detention. I’m not sure if either of us did the story complete justice due to it’s complexity. We are hoping that our stories will be broadcast on the Channel 31 program Newsline in the next few weeks. We would like to make the Team Oyeniyi story into a longer documentary though unfortunately we do not have the manpower or the resources. Otherwise it would make an incredible episode of Australian Story!

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About Robyn Oyeniyi

We fought to be together as a team, we are now together as a team. Team Oyeniyi

17 comments on “What a journalism student learnt by meeting Team Oyeniyi – Guest Article

  1. [...] in the USA for the first time.  I am sad for the people about to lose their jobs and for the young people studying or graduating this year with stars in their [...]

  2. [...] What a journalism student learnt by meeting Team Oyeniyi – Guest Article (teamoyeniyi.com) [...]

  3. I laughed at Helen’s comment: Difficult to hear any sort of criticism … it’s a bit like having a baby after carrying it for 9 months and then someone saying what an ugly child it is !!

    I just posted a piece about not sharing our “ugly babies” (first drafts) with the world:

    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/5-reasons-to-give-birth-behind-closed-doors/

    Enjoyed Nat’s piece, especially: As a family, the Oyeniyi’s are gorgeous and so accommodating. We only went out to their house twice but by the second time, I felt like I was apart of the family. ~ quick fix needed to break “apart” apart.

    • Thank you Nancy! Fix now done – bad editor, I am! :lol:

      I’m a bit of a fatalist, I think – I carried my firstborn for 9 months and I was the one who commented he was an ugly baby – much to the horror of other new mothers in the hospital! He grew into a very handsome young man – but he was an ugly newborn!

      Glad you enjoyed the article, Nancy. Thank you!

  4. Well done to Freya and Natalie, you’ve done a really good job and good luck in your future careers!

  5. Lovely interview, and can´t wait to see it on Newsweek, let us know when that will be.
    Your story would certainly be a great topic for Australian Story, it´s one of my favourite weekly programs, I´ve learned a lot about the Australian people – their tenacity, their generosity, their drive from watching that. It would be a way to show that refugees aren´t the “boogeyman” the media portrays them to be.

    • I do hope we can in some small way change perspectives about asylum seekers and refugees, whether it be via this website, the book, or perhaps TV. The ultimate would be a movie! :)

  6. Great piece Nat! Robyn your a wonderfully fantastic strong woman, I don’t know how you do it, but I look up to you! Lot’s of love and respect from me in Sardinia. :)

  7. This is a very good informative piece Nat but I’m going to be I hope constructively critical.
    I would have liked to have seen a bit more depth and heart; the emotion you felt developed more. I’ll give you an example. You wrote this “His story shocked us both and when we got in the car to drive home we couldn’t stop talking about his emotional past” Why? In what way did it affect you? I think a little info on John’s story would be good though I understand your reasoning for not doing so.
    Having followed Love Versus Goliath for a while now I have come to recognise the tremendous struggle they have all engaged in and to “sell” the story to the general public I believe you need to tap into the struggle and the emotion that surrounds it.
    A little more development of Australias fear of the unknown would be good too, tied into the O’s situation.. Fear of losing identity, of being “taken over” by other cultures…that sort of thing.
    Unfortunately as I live in the UK I won’t be able to see your piece but I wish you luck with it. 2 minutes isn’t long to tell this story!

    • They are hoping to do a longer piece for Channel 31. Two minutes was the requirement of their assignment.

      We are working on getting their work onto the web site, Helen. I’ll have to upload to YouTube and make it available from the web site.

      I must admit I’m not sure if Nat is planning on responding herself – now that was badly planned of me, wasn’t it?

      • That would be cool Robyn… I’d love to see the films… any feedback from your book “readers” ?

      • My sister and my oldest daughter both said it is very good and definitely NOT to throw it away and start again, but both said it is a “heavy” read. Well, it isn’t a fluffy romance, so I guess that is an accurate assessment – and probably not the style of book either of them would normally read, so I am encouraged so far. Plus, of course, it is probably harder for them to read as they lived through my part of it with me, to a certain extent. The two who are not related to me I have not yet had feedback from, although I am hoping to receive some soon. That might be another guest post, I’ll see what they have to say first!

      • Difficult to hear any sort of criticism … it’s a bit like having a baby after carrying it for 9 months and then someone saying what an ugly child it is !!..
        If it’s a “heavy” read you maybe need to add a bit of humour ( there IS always some ! and what little I know of you I imagine there will be some on there? ) or make it shorter ?
        I think when you are writing a “life story” it can be difficult to leave anything out and the line between enough information and too much is a fine one.
        Family will try to tell you what they think you want to hear too . I would suggest on rewrite ( there is always some rewriting) try to be as objective as possible and read it like you are coming to it with outsiders eyes..
        As usual I’m rambiling on !!

      • I don’t consider I’ve had any criticism yet! “Heavy” is probably an accurate description. I say the same about “The Hobbit”! :lol: My sister is interstate, so she is making comments all over the manuscript, but I won’t see those until she sends it back.

        I am strying to get into the draft two rewrite, but I really want to have the feedback manuscripts first, so I can make those suggested improvements at the same time.

        Humour does need to be added in. Problem is, most of the humour has been since my family came home – there really wasn’t a lot of it beforehand! I’ll work on it!

      • hey what do I know !! I haven’t even seen it though can’t wait to read it !

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