For 2021 30 Under 30 winner journalist of the year, Elfy Scott, it’s been a long journey in an ever-shifting media landscape to get to where she is now.
Having originally completed a bachelor of psychological science, the writer and presenter instead leveraged her talents, focused on her lifelong passion for writing, and went full bore with it.
Since undertaking a Masters Degree in Advanced Journalism, Scott has left her byline above several engaging, witty, and informative pieces on a range of topics from climate change to our precarious relationships with technology.
Following stints as a freelancer, as well as with Buzzfeed Australia and 10 Daily, Scott began pegging away at Junkee’s daily online news show, The Junkee Takeaway, where she was a senior producer and host; a “labour of love” for the young wordsmith.
Scott now co-hosts an environmentally focused podcast, The Green Canary, and is currently writing a book for Pantera press.
With her finger on the editorial and technological pulse, and her CV growing, it’s little wonder Scott took out this year’s B&T 30 Under 30 award in the Journalist/Producer category.
With the gates now open for the next 30 Under 30 Awards presented by Vevo, which is set to return in March 2022, we thought we’d catch up with Scott to get her thoughts on the media and communications industry, a young person’s role in it, and what being recognised as one of the industry’s 30 Under 30 means to her.
You originally studied a bachelor of psychological science, before turning to journalism. What was it that attracted you to this industry?
I’d always been interested in writing. I started blogging when I was coming out of high school, and I found that really fulfilling. I really liked writing opinion columns and I started to get a bit of steam that way.
I did study science, and I completed that degree because I was really interested in psychology, and I just loved reading the books. But I’ve always been writing on the side. And it just turned out I wanted to make that my career.
What have you enjoyed most about your career as a journalist and presenter?
Discovering I could present was a lightbulb moment for me. I was really lucky to be mentored by Nick Arnold, who I worked with at Buzzfeed News and later at Junkee, because he was the executive producer of the Junkee Takeaway.
That was a real turning point for me because I understood that I could start writing scripts, start researching for myself, and presenting. Finding that point where I could bring all of those skills together was amazing, and I’m really lucky I was given the opportunity to build on them.
From climate change to our relationship with technology, you’ve reported on many things . What piece of work are you most proud of?
I have a journalist’s brain in the sense that I am very good at writing things and then completely forgetting about what I’ve done within 24 hours. But there are quite a few pieces I’m proud of from Buzzfeed News, like long-form science pieces.
I think what I enjoy about science journalism is the place where it can start to tap into people’s feelings. It’s not just about reporting facts, it’s about reporting on humanity. It really is exciting when you feel like you can speak at the intersection of something that is both scientific and factual, but also deeply emotional.
It’s not uncommon for senior leadership to underestimate their younger employees. What’s been your biggest struggle in the media industry so far?
For the most part I’ve been spectacularly lucky. I’ve worked with a lot of employers who have been very open-minded and very nurturing of young talent. I don’t know if I could say that I’ve particularly struggled in any way.
As a young brown woman, obviously there are commercial spaces where it can become difficult, because you are in a room of predominantly older, white men. I wouldn’t say that’s an adversity I’ve had to face, it’s just a fact.
It’s frustrating, and I do hope eventually there is change that means there aren’t those difficult scenarios that people have to work within.
What inspired you to enter the last 30 Under 30 Awards?
I was working with Nick Arnold over at Junkee, and we got to this point where we had been working on the show for a year-and-a-half. It was this labour of love, and we realised we weren’t getting a huge amount of recognition from the industry, despite getting a huge amount of views online.
So we were like, “Let’s just enter me in this thing and see if anybody will actually recognise all the work we’re putting into the show.” And it happened, and that was fantastic!
Why do you feel it’s important to celebrate young people in this industry?
I really think they’re the backbone of this industry. I think the credit for a lot of young journalists’ work can be lost when we’re talking about the publications they work for.
There isn’t enough to celebrate people coming up in this industry, and I think it’s inspiring to be able to see these sorts of awards early on in a career.
Speaking from experience, having won earlier this year, how do you find initiatives like the 30 Under 30 Awards help young people in adland?
When I turned up to those awards, I was so impressed with the community, and the people that were winning awards. The communities those ceremonies build are really important.
In the media industry it’s very easy to get entrenched in a single publication where you only know a few other journalists. At the awards, there’s this chance to build and meet young journalists who are doing the same thing and to feel inspired by other people.
What advice would you give to other young people coming up in the industry, particularly those unsure about entering this year’s 30 Under 30?
You are way more valuable than you think you are to the media industry at large. Just by virtue of being younger, likely being more technologically advanced than a lot of older people in the industry, being savvy and having your finger on the pulse makes you worth much more than you think you are.
I would absolutely encourage anybody to apply for this. It’s been a huge help, and it’s been amazing to be recognised in this way!
However, you MUST be under the age of 30 on the day of the event (Thursday 31 March) to be in the running. So, be sure to include your ID and profile photo with your entry.
Oh, and please save your entry in a Word doc in case so many of you jump onto the awards portal that it crashes. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
The 30 Under 30 Awards, presented by Vevo, are widely regarded as the leading showcase for the brightest young talent working across marketing communications.
Three outstanding individuals will be recognised for their achievements in each of the 10 categories, as well as a Grand Prix award for the most influential individual overall.
You can find all the details on the awards right here and, to avoid disappointment, we highly recommend gathering your crew and securing your spots at the 30 Under 30 Awards night by purchasing early bird tickets (your bank account will thank you later).
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