Amanda Gearing is an Australian, investigative journalist, Author and Broadcaster based in Brisbane, Queensland.
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I discovered I loved journalism while studying newswriting at University. I loved the subject and I was inspired by a guest lecture by Denis Butler, a reporter from the Newcastle Herald who told us about his feature stories about adopted children who were searching for their biological parents. His work led to the foundation of the organisation Jigsaw. Seeing that his work made a significant difference to people’s lives I was inspired to become a journalist.
I transferred my studies to the Queensland Institute of Technology (as it was in those days), studying newspaper, radio and television news reporting.
My first job was tutoring at QIT, now Queensland University of Technology. Once I graduated, I got married and moved to Mount Isa, working at the North-West Star, a small independent newspaper with plenty of political clout.
I moved to London for a year, working for Surrey and South London Newspapers, and then returned to Australia and raised our four children in our home city of Toowoomba, with a break in 1994-95 when I worked as the news editor at the University of Southern Queensland.
In 1997 -2007 I was the bureau reporter for The Courier Mail based in Toowoomba, covering breaking news from the Lockyer Valley to Hungerford.
During these years I won my first few media accolades in the Queensland Media Awards.
In 2007 the digital revolution hit the newspaper industry’s bottom line, slashing classified advertising revenue. Editorial expenses were cut. Bureau staff were cut in rural Queensland, including the Toowoomba bureau.
I spent a couple of years doing legal research and in 2010 returned to University and completed my first year of a Juris Doctor of Law.
By the end I was ready to return to journalism with renewed vigour. During the second half of 2010, I watched a massive La Nina system developing in the central Pacific Ocean. Queensland was in for record flooding but the media seemed strangely silent about the threat.
At the beginning of 2011, flash flooding struck Toowoomba. I was already enrolled in a Master of Arts Research at QUT, hastily changed my topic and spent the next eight months writing and recording survivor stories. QUT awarded me the Adrian Scott Rural Journalism Scholarship which helped with financial support. UQ Press published my first book, The Torrent: Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley, January 2011. Flood survivors and VIPs including Adrian Scott attended the book launch at the Grantham community centre in early 2012.
I also made a documentary for ABC Radio National’s 360 documentaries, The day that changed Grantham, broadcast on ABC Radio National’s 360 Documentaries. The program received a Walkley Award for Best Radio Documentary, in November 2012.
I am now enrolled in a PhD in the field of journalism – looking at how social media and Web-based communications an be used as tools by investigative journalists to tell global stories.
My research ethics application is approved and data collection is underway. I am working on several investigative stories as well, revisiting the flood survivors’ battles with illness and keeping an eye on the Royal Commission.