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Meet the Team – Editorial Projects Editor, Ross McRae

27 March 2023

Tell us about your journey into the role of Editorial Projects Editor of The West Australian?
I always tell everyone that starts at The West that you can be whatever you want to be within the newsroom. Just work hard and think bigger. After a diverse few years out of high school traveling and working in the US and Sydney, and dabbling in various career paths, I settled on journalism. While still studying, I began as a casual at Community Newspaper Group and just climbed up the ladder. As soon as I finished my degree, I started working full time at CNG as a features writer, which then merged into the Deputy Features Editor of the group, helping to oversee the lifestyle and entertainment content of almost 20 suburban newspapers. I wanted to get stuck into the news side of the business, so I took the helm of CNG’s Perth CBD paper, Guardian Express, until I was headhunted by The West Australian to come across and relaunch its showbiz offerings, eventually landing as the newspaper’s Entertainment Editor for a number of years. After Anthony De Ceglie joined The West as our new Editor in Chief, he moved me to the role of Features Editor. It was an expansive role overseeing the Features editorial department of West Australian Newspapers including STM and PLAY magazines, the TODAY lift-out, and all things entertainment, arts, lifestyle, food, health, education, social pages, travel and motoring in The West Australian, the Sunday Times and PerthNow and on and Last year, I project managed from idea to execution, The Best Australian Yarn, the world’s richest short story competition for published and non-published authors and the success of that prompted me to move to a full time role overseeing all major projects and initiatives for West Australian Newspapers at Seven West Media. Current projects include The Best Australian Yarn 2023, creator of GenWest – WA’s first news youth website, The West Australian’s 190th anniversary commemorative activities, and lead partner on The West Pulse exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

What does a typical day in your role look like?
After working as a journalist and then editor for almost 17 years, my entire day revolved around morning news conference and subsequently the breaking news in the global news cycle which never stops. Moving to this new role has seen the breaking of that routine so now each day is unlike the one before it, making sure I am juggling all of the balls in the air for each of the projects I am working on. Unlike working a daily newspaper where you have something physical to show for your work the following day, managing projects is a long game where you need to keep your eye on the prize and keep working towards bigger goals and expectations.

What is one of the biggest news stories The West Australian has covered in the past year that has captivated readers?
I might be biased, but the first year of The Best Australian Yarn blew all of expectations. Running a national short story competition out of Perth, it was amazing to see that almost 70 per cent of the 5000 original short stories we received came from people outside of WA. It showed that when you get something right and do it properly, Perth can bat above its weight. The winning story, I Shoot Them Now by David Harris, was one of the most moving and exceptional pieces of short form writing I have been lucky enough to have read in many years and it was a privilege that it came to be from our competition.

Who or what inspires you most?
To be a journalist and to survive and move up in a newsroom requires determine, fearlessness and strength of character. You have to keep thinking big, evolving and adapting with the times and accept that the media landscape grows faster every minute and enjoy the pace or you know it is time to get off the ride.

If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
I really try to live with no regrets. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but it is just that – hindsight. Once you have put out a daily newspaper every day, you just can’t sweat the small stuff because once it has gone to print there is literally nothing you can do. You just need to get on and start working out what is going to be in tomorrow’s paper and the one after that.