How did you get into journalism?
This is my 10th year working at the Herald Sun. I studied professional and creative writing at Deakin and wanted to be a speech writer for politicians but when it came time to doing our internship it was very hard to find a government body to take on a university student. I got in touch with the Herald Sun where they took me on for a month and I loved it. When I finished my university degree… I freelanced and travelled, and I decided I would like to write about fashion and lifestyle trends, so I did a lot of freelance and I would try and find events like things at the NGV or the Polo or races. I always kept in touch with the Herald Sun and after almost 12 months after graduating I got my foot in the door here and I’ve been here ever since. After six months I was promoted to fashion editor on the Sunday Herald Sun. I’m not obsessed with fashion but I’m so glad it’s what I worked in for 10 years because I find it so fascinating.
What made you want to become a journalist and did you always want to be?
I never really wanted to be a journalist; I fell into it. I think that if anything I just have a really big interest in people, and I think that that’s at the core of what writing is. I wanted to be a features writer but not a journalist. I really loved getting to tell a story and really make a narrative flow. I don’t care so much for scandalous type things and that’s probably because as a reader I don’t consume that stuff either. I think that’s why fashion has been a really good fit for me because where I have had to cross over to that celebrity realm, you come into it in a very non-threatening way.
What’s your favourite aspect of the job?
There’s a handful of stories you do throughout the year that really stick with you and you feel so privileged to tell a piece of history. I interviewed Jane Fonda last year and she has been a hero my whole life. My mum is obsessed with her and I adore her. To have a 40 minute conversation with someone like that, you really remember things that they say. I also got to interview Debby Kepitis who is the owner of Winx, the racehorse. That was just before it’s third Cox Plate race which it won and created history. That was a real piece of history and getting to tell that story is something that will always stay with me.
What has been your most rewarding moment?
I was really lucky last year. I got to travel to London and interview Andrew Lloyd Webber. Musicals are my one true love, more than fashion and so to go and have that experience with him, in his home, sit at the piano with him and just talk, it’s nerve racking. There’s so much more pressure because you’ve gone all that way and you’ve got your phone on record and the whole time you’re thinking “god have I got enough?”. There’s no pressure like it but it’s really rewarding too.
What has been your most challenging moment?
When I first started, I was so green and had a very thin skin. I remember the first time I got hate mail, I balled my eyes out. I was so affected at the time whereas now I get hate mail and I can laugh about it now because I think that you grow, and you learn and you priorities and realise what matters to you. For me, I’ve just always stayed true to my values and ethics and I’ve never not been able to sleep at night. I’ve always known that I’ve just stayed true to myself the whole time too which I think is really important.
How do you think social media has impacted traditional media?
Instagram and Twitter barely existed when I started and now, I have to have a work account. I think that it’s good. I think that it’s about delivering more to your readers and it can really be a great tool. I have amazing access to events, to fashion shows and I can take the readers front row with me… but I think readers are smart and on breaking news things they’re still going to trust in newspapers over social media commentators.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to work in the journalism field?
Any internship that you can get, any kind of work experience, anything to build your folio up is amazing. Don’t get taken advantage of though, make sure you get paid. Don’t do too much unpaid work. Read, consume as much as you can. There is more content in the world now than ever before and the most amazing thing about being a journalist is that your skills are so transferable. Working for a newspaper is probably the end goal for most journalists but there’s so much work out there. Don’t be too narrow minded and anything that gets you practising as a writer and writing to a formula is great experience.