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Meet the Team, Education Editor – Bethany Hiatt

20 September 2023

Tell us about your journey into the role of Education Editor of The West Australian?

As a kid, I grew up reading the newspaper every morning so I felt incredibly lucky to score a cadetship at a metro newspaper straight out of university. That was with the Daily News, in those distant, pre-internet days when Perth still had an afternoon newspaper. After several years out of the workforce to produce and raise three amazing humans, I went back to uni and then tried my hand at teaching. While working with kids in high schools was rewarding, it didn’t take long for me to realise that journalism was much more fun.

From there, I spent several years as a reporter and editor at suburban mastheads. That taught me valuable lessons in building and maintaining contacts which served me well once I made it back to the newsroom of a major daily newspaper. And my experience in schools was not wasted, providing me with valuable insights as a specialist education reporter.


What does a typical day in your role look like?

One thing I like about my job is that no day is exactly the same as the one before. The only consistent factor is that every morning must include a flat white coffee.

My day could include interpreting a report on education research, interviewing sources or trawling through school newsletters or social media for story ideas.

When driving into the office I may map out in my head some of the stories I plan to work on or the questions I need to ask – only for that to be upended when another breaking story takes priority.

Covering education is a privilege because it plays such a massive role in kids’ lives, from birth through to university. That also gives me enormous scope for stories, from keeping politicians and school sectors accountable, to heart-warming tales of kids or schools achieving against the odds.


What are some of the biggest news stories you’ve covered in the past year or so that have captivated readers?

Education stories often get picked up by talkback radio or followed on social media because they have such wide interest for anyone with children. Some of the more recent ones include a controversial front page on teaching school kids about domestic violence, with the headline “How we stop this kid becoming a monster”.

A primary school’s decision to cancel their Year 6 camp because their teachers were overworked and an inner-city school’s struggle to provide enough toilets as their enrolments exploded also drew wide interest. That story pushed the government to release details – much earlier than it had intended – of a new school aimed at reducing enrolments pressure.


Who or what inspires you most?

It may sound corny, but my fellow journos at The West inspire me all the time. I am proud of what so many of them have achieved. Not just by producing award-winning journalism, but the way they work so hard – tracking down an important lead or pushing a politician for a decent quote – every single day.


If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

Don’t procrastinate! Putting things off until tomorrow means you’ll likely miss the story, something I learnt the hard way very early on. Also, trust in yourself. Be confident to push a story, even if others don’t at first see its potential. Some of them may even end up on the front page.