Jane Cowan came to journalism after walking away from medical school.
The daughter of two school teachers, proper grammar was always big in the Cowan family. But storytelling was king. For Jane, journalism was a natural fusion of her mother’s eye for observing human behavior and her father’s passion for social justice.
She graduated with an honors degree in social work, majoring in criminology.
During her home country's worst natural disaster, the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, she was the first television reporter into the destroyed town of Marysville where many of the 173 victims of the fires died. Her coverage of the devastation and the resultant inquiry into the mismanagement of the emergency won multiple awards, including for sensitive reporting of traumatic events.
Jane had cut her journalistic teeth reporting for Australia's respected national public broadcaster, the ABC, in country New South Wales and the remote Northern Territory. Much of her early career was spent covering indigenous disadvantage until her disaster reporting began with the Katherine floods in 2006.
In 2010 she was sent to New Delhi, India, to cover the chaotic lead-up to the Commonwealth Games — dengue fever outbreaks, collapsing bridges and terrorist threats.
Later that same year she was posted to the ABC's prestigious Washington D.C. bureau, where she promptly fell in love with the United States. Four and a half years as a North America Correspondent meant reporting from the scene of the Aurora cinema massacre and the Sandy Hook school shooting, following Barack Obama on the campaign trail and being part of the team that broke a story about an unscrupulous surrogacy operator, an award-winning investigative report which was subsequently followed by the New York Times, on its front page.
Jane's versatility has seen her file stories from the slums of Buenos Aires, sit down with film director Martin Scorsese and don scuba gear to investigate the environmental catastrophe unfolding in the world's largest underground river system beneath Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Correspondent work demanded an ability to work intensely — solo and in small and large teams — under high pressure and sometimes in hostile environments.
See highlights from Jane's TV reporting work here.
For Jane, visual storytelling through photography, and film, represents both an exciting development and a natural progression.
While pursuing a Master's in Photography at Ohio University's storied School of Visual Communication in 2016, Jane was the first recipient of the Chris Hondros Scholarship and the NPPF Bob East Scholarship.
In May 2016 Jane was chosen as a finalist in the Documentary/Photojournalism category of Australia's Top Emerging Photographer awards (Capture Magazine).
She spent the summer of 2016 photographing and telling stories digitally at The Virginian-Pilot.
In November 2016 her work won an Award of Excellence in the multimedia category of the 71st College Photographer of the Year.