Bree Element is a natural born storyteller.
Bree writes stories, speaks in stories, thinks in stories, and sees them everywhere.
To paraphrase Good Will Hunting, when Beethoven or Mozart looked at a piano, it made sense to them; they could just sit down and play. Well, when it comes to writing stories, it’s always made sense to Bree; she can just play.
“I’m eternally curious, and eternally fascinated by Canberra. For me, we’ve got a population of 400,000 people, that’s 400,000 stories,” Bree tells Canberra Weekly.
“We’re lucky to be young enough that there are still people here who can tell the stories of our history, I love people who can tell us how we grew up and how we came about.
“I love sitting down and getting close to someone, everyone’s got a phenomenal story.”
After undertaking a journalism cadetship at The Queanbeyan Age in the 1990s, Bree says “literally everything” is a potential story to her.
“That taught me to listen out for a good story, so if I’m just having a conversation with someone, if something piques my interest I’ll store it.”
Even before her cadetship, her high school English teacher recognised Bree’s tenacity for telling tales.
“He said to me, and I’ll never forget it, ‘you write with an empathy that’s rare, you get people and you get what a good story is’, and I was always really proud of that.”
It’s Bree’s natural curiosity paired with her capacity to write relatable, hyper-local human interest stories that motivated her to create C! News.
“To me, Canberra is essentially just a big country town. We are the capital, we are smart, and we do lead the nation, but we all know each other and we all know the idiosyncrasies of living in Canberra.
“The more hyper-local I can make something, and I’m talking down to suburb-level and sometimes street-level, the more highly engaged people are.
“For me, the old woman who puts the chips in the deep fryer at Hughes Takeaway has the kind of story that trumps 10 articles out of the Legislative Assembly on a good day,” she smiles.
“It’s such a cliché, but it’s finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. I’m good at that and I want to share it with people.”
Bree says it’s her capacity to write about the experience of living in Canberra that only locals get, which makes her content resonate.
“We get the Kingsley’s chips with gravy, we get Goodberrys, we get the Belco owl … You can’t find a park in Braddon, or you go to Braddon Maccas and the soft-serve machine is always broken.
“It’s the detail in Canberra that only we get, and you’d be surprised, when you say that, 10,000 people come out of the woodwork and go ‘oh, yes! That happened to me’.
“This is a shared experienced, it’s not just us.”
Bree decided to click ‘publish’ on her new venture in part due to her long-held desire to be in charge of a media outlet.
“Growing up I always wanted to be the editor of a magazine; I wanted to be the editor of Dolly or Cosmopolitan … online didn’t exist back when I was a young girl dreaming about that.
“Now we live in a world where I can have my own creative platform, so that’s what I’m doing.”
C! News is now online, and can be found at cnews.media