What’s the first thing you were ever passionate about?
The universe. My dad was a great storyteller so that helped get anyone passionate about anything. He used to sit by my bed at night and tell me stories about dwarfs and black holes and the universe and how it all works… There’s a lot of unknown out there, even in our everyday lives… Part of finding stories is about breaking things that nobody really knows except for…select people. Being able to gain their trust and have them open up to you is an incredible thing. That’s part of what makes me really excited about being a journalist because you can discover the unknown.
Dad has worked in radio for about 40 years so I suppose my passion for journalism came from him as well. I remember when I was a kid going into the radio studio and seeing my dad on air. That was just about the proudest moment you could have as a daughter; seeing your big, muscly dad who rides around on a motorbike sitting there in front of a microphone with this beautiful, smooth voice speaking to people.
Was there a particular class you took at university that interested you the most?
As soon I did the radio broadcast subject, I fell in love. I remember thinking, ‘This doesn’t feel like work at all!’ I interviewed my friends who were in a lesbian relationship about how having a child would be really important to them and how [legislation] needed to be changed. I remember thinking, ‘This is wonderful to get out this news and potentially help my friends’.
What have you liked and disliked about radio and TV?
When I was in radio…I loved being the first to know what was happening in Melbourne, in Australia, around the world…
I love the creativity of TV. You have the time and ability to make something really beautiful. One of the most gorgeous stories I’ve done…was a heartbreaking story about a guy who had lost his younger brother… We did a re-enactment of when this young boy went missing in this country town. We got him dressed in the exact clothes he would have worn including the platform shoes. We got the old car…from the police notes. The piece looked so polished… It captivated the audience even more because of those production qualities… People wanted to hear what he had to say. I hoped that would mean that someone would call up and say, ‘I saw this one day’. If you can grab the audience, then your job is done.
Whose opinion matters to you the most?
It’s the people I do the story for. If I work with a family on a story and interview them, the thing I’m waiting for is a text or call from them saying, ‘I was so happy with that, thank you’. That’s what I hang out for and that’s the most important thing to me. I don’t feel like it’s my story, it’s their story.
What’s been a memorable story from your career?
A regional doctor…was facing deportation because she was too old. If you were over a certain age, you couldn’t get permanent residency even though she was in a regional area, the people there absolutely loved her, they desperately needed doctors… So I went to the Immigration Minister and said, ‘This is the issue, what can we do?’ He actually reversed the decision so she could stay…in Australia. That to me was such a big moment; I thought, ‘Wow, journalists really do have the power to change people’s lives!’
Any tips to make a great impression to employers and colleagues as a journalist?
Don’t be afraid to go out to coffee with people. People are fairly open to catching up and people always love to give an opinion… Asking the question, ‘Hey, can I buy you a coffee? I’d love to pick your brain, just five minutes,’ that’s a good start… Be prepared for someone to be a little bit too busy.
In your role as second in charge, how do you monitor reporting standards and how do you go about staff management?
The majority of my role consists of reporting and finding stories but I do fill in as Melbourne Bureau Chief [sometimes]. Our scripts are actually subbed (sub-edited) out of Sydney. That’s where the reporting standards are monitored.
Anything else you’d like to add that people might not know about you? Or an anecdote?
A lot of people say to me ‘Oh gee, journalism is such a glamourous job’. That’s…not true at all! It’s definitely not about standing in front of a camera; that’s 0.1 percent of your job. It’s a tough job, but a really rewarding job. It’s exciting; every day is different, every day is a challenge… People are a little bit competitive but they support each other and everyone is happy to go for a drink at the end of the day, give each other a pat on the back…
One piece of advice my dad gave me… He said, ‘Most people say they really want to be a TV journalist but…there’s so many people going for the same job. Get rid of the word ‘but’… I really want to be a TV journalist and there’s a lot of people and I will get there. If I knock on enough doors, one will open…’ He was right, you’ve just got to have faith in yourself.