What is your role at RoyalAuto magazine?
My role as editor is to make the magazine, the app and the website more newsy for a greater reader engagement. How do I do that? I do what any experienced editor would do, look at the stories from a reader’s perspective and make them as interesting as possible. RoyalAuto is more than just a physical print membership magazine. There’s a website, RACV Digital Daily app, fortnightly eNews (email) bulletin, social media channels. We also make a lot of video. In October 2016 we published our major road trauma investigation, It took a year to do, many months of negotiations, six month flying with the Air Ambulance and then a long time cutting the video and writing and editing the stories of road-crash victims. Visit racv.com.au/impact to see the project. It is constantly updated as the patients continue their recovery.
How did you get started in the journalism industry?
I studied journalism as you are doing now, pretty much the same way. I was told going in to the course that there were no jobs, all the way through we were told there was no jobs and then we came out and we all got jobs. I started as a general reporter then gradually moved my way up. Journalists are a great help to each other and they like to read good stuff, so they help each other learn the craft and find and create better stories. At The Age, I was appointed deputy arts editor of The Sunday Age, then arts editor and then I set up a travel section for The Sunday Age. It was called Escape, way before the Escape section in The Herald Sun. Later I moved to the daily as news editor.
What has been some of the highlights of your career?
It’s the best job you can have if you enjoy it. If you hate it, you can forget about it. The highlights would be just meeting people, I’ve met a bunch of celebrities, prime ministers, heads of states…
And would be the most famous person you’ve met?
The most ‘celebrity-celebrity’ would be George Clooney. I was really jealous. I was like, ‘oh damn you’re like a foot taller than me, much more handsome, much more charming and much more smarter. Damn you George Clooney’.
That would have been incredible! What were you writing on him at the time?
The Sunday Age was offered a Melbourne exclusive interview with George Clooney, when he was playing Batman that time. I was arts editor, so I signed him up for myself thinking I would like to meet George Clooney. When do you ever get to do that? The film company was desperate to get people to watch this movie because it was pretty crap. At that time, when celebrities came to Australia pushing a movie, you knew it was most likely a bad film just because it’s such a long way to come and the market is so small. So they set it up as an ‘exclusive’ interview at a Gold Coast theme park, with fake Bat guys and fake Robins and fake Poison Ivy’s. While I was waiting to interview George Clooney, I saw a Gerard Whateley (then) from The Herald Sun come out of Clooney’s hotel room and I realized it wasn’t an exclusive so I made the story about the ridiculous things the film company did to get us to like this bad movie.
When you were the travel editor for The Sunday Age, how often did you actually get to travel?
I actually only travelled once on a thing called a junket. I am prejudiced against junkets because they are set up by a travel/PR company which wants a group of journalists to write something very specific. The problem is the journalists (or bloggers these days) are not having a real experience. They feed you well and give you lots of alcohol and are super nice to you but it’s actually really boring to do and boring to write about. So in the end I didn’t even write about the junket I went on. I’m more interested in real travel stories where you go away somewhere and have an adventure then come back and write about it. That’s more real especially in this world where everything’s prepackaged, the real stuff shines through.
What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
Learn your craft. Your craft is writing, your craft is being able to interview someone, try to get the best out of people, make them feel comfortable and important and honour their story by listening and reporting accurately. I see journalism as a service to the public, some of the best and most honest people I know are journalists. The best of the best are motivated by that public service ideal – and a congenital inability to lie or to abide anyone else lying to the public.