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Meet the Team – PerthNow Local Newspapers Editor, Arylene Westlake-Jennings

10 July 2023

Tell us about your journey into the role of PerthNow Local Newspapers Editor at Seven West Media?

My first foray into journalism was as an intern at STM at The Sunday Times in 2009 under News Corp.

Not long after graduating from Curtin University, then-features editor Di Sattler invited me back to The Sunday Times on a short-term contract covering several journos on maternity leave, first as a features writer and ending as the Home lift-out editor.

The close of that two-year stint saw me move to Community Newspaper Group as a real estate reporter, where I spread my wings as part of the features team as magazines editor and eventually taking on the role of features editor for the group.

Community Newspaper Group had by then become a part of Seven West Media, and our suburban newspapers were to be rebranded to PerthNow Local newspapers. During the restructure, I decided I wanted a change of pace and made it known to editor in chief Anthony De Ceglie – who happened to be my chief of staff when I departed The Sunday Times – and I still like to joke that it is to his detriment that he made me PerthNow Local newspapers editor.


What does a typical day in your role look like?

I start my morning listening to and reading the news while I go about getting the kids and myself sorted for the day – it’s practically about fitting it all in before I get into my car.

At work, it then becomes managed mayhem.

With ten mastheads under PerthNow Local covering the sprawling metropolitan from Cockburn to Yanchep, it’s a matter of staying on top of every story 24/7 while knowing where to take each story at a local level.

I work closely with my news producers, who are like my left and right arms, but ultimately I don’t know what’s going to end up on the front page until the very last minute as you never know what breaking news story might override everything you’ve been working on that day.


What is one of the biggest news stories you’ve covered in the past year or so that has captivated readers?

I’ll never forget, as a very green newspaper editor at the time, getting a 5am text from my editor in chief telling me to rip up all the front pages I had designed the night before – because Cleo Smith had been found.

My mind couldn’t fathom that, firstly, they had found that precious little girl whose disappearance felt like a weighty cloud hanging low over our State for 19 days, and second, that I had to get her and the story on the front page of all ten of my newspapers in the next two hours. That two hours now seems like a luxury!

And then there are the grassroots issues that my dedicated reporters spend each week reporting on for the everyday person wanting to know what’s happening in their community. They have broken countless local stories and have led discussions that other media have tried to claim their own so many times I just couldn’t realistically list them all here.

Perhaps one of the more amusing news stories saw us as a newspaper become the subject of the story, banned from the Town of Cambridge’s library in Floreat. Turns out our reporting held the council to account is such uncomfortable detail they felt the need to suppress the scrutiny.

It only emboldened us to take the matter further and, an embarrassing backflip later, our newspapers were reinstated in their rightful place as a valued source of information at the Cambridge library.


Who or what inspires you most?

My team, who are a group of the most hardworking, talented, knowledgeable and dedicated people I know.

The journos voicing those hard-to-ask questions, or putting themselves out there and into the shoes of those in the community – they are the ones with their boots on the ground and their ears out for a good yarn.

Then there are those who work behind the scenes alongside me – legends of the industry Matt Zis, Justin Bianchini, Michael Palmer, Dave Friedlos and Carly Pilton – the OGs who have been putting suburban newspapers together longer than I have and who very kindly support my every decision, no matter how ridiculous or questionable at times.

And also the readers in the community, without whom we wouldn’t get some of the more outrageous and hilarious tip offs.

What drives me ultimately is knowing that with suburban media around the country fighting to stay alive, if the PerthNow Local newspapers don’t tell these stories, nobody else will.


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

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Because that will only keep you up at night. Oh, and nobody likes an excessively sweaty person.

And don’t worry that you never became Vogue editor; you will love where you end up.