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Meet the Team – State Political Reporter, Josh Zimmerman

18 November 2022

Tell us about your journey into the role of State Political Reporter at The West Australian?

After studying journalism at Edith Cowan University, my career started at the South Western Times in Bunbury where I spent two years – half of the time as sports editor. From there I had a nearly three-year stint with Community Newspaper Group at the Melville Times during which I occasionally worked Saturdays on a casual basis for The Sunday Times. That eventually led to landing a full-time role with The Sunday Times shortly after it was bought out by Seven West Media and re-located to Osborne Park. For the past three and a bit years – including a State, Federal election and the entire COVID pandemic – I’ve worked as one of the paper’s state political reporters.

 

What does a typical day in your role look like? 

Every day varies wildly – especially if Parliament is sitting – but usually they are littered with press conferences and interviews featuring anyone from Premier Mark McGowan to a union boss or business titan. In between that is a lot of phone calls and emails chasing up tips or reaction to breaking news or just gathering context about whatever I’m writing about. I’ll file stories for our website throughout the day, which always ends with a mad rush to update those yarns or finish off new exclusives ahead of the daily print deadline.

 

What is one of the biggest news stories The West Australian has covered this year that has captivated readers?

In recent times there have been a stream of revelations about the shocking conditions confronting juvenile offenders at Banksia Hill and the specially created Unit 18 within Casuarina Prison. Earlier this year there was a major focus on WA’s struggling ambulance provider St John, which was totally overwhelmed by the arrival of COVID into the State for really the first time since the start of the pandemic. That resulted in the tragic deaths of three West Australians while waiting for paramedics to arrive – in two cases for multiple hours. Morale at St John hit rock bottom with hundreds of frustrated paramedics turning on management – a situation that eventually resulted in the resignation of former CEO Michelle Fyfe.

 

Who or what inspires you most?

I take a great deal of inspiration from the people I encounter in my line of work who have the courage to speak up when they’re confronted with a situation they believe is illegal, immoral or unjust. In most cases, their decision to blow the whistle carries immense risk for their professional or personal lives but they choose to do it anyway. Without them, difference-making journalism would be impossible. In a personal capacity, I have a huge deal of admiration for my gran Merle. She was divorced young and raised my mum practically alone in Zimbabwe while living – and continuing to live – an incredibly full life that includes fighting off home invaders (twice) and a stint as a fearsome debt collector.

 

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

It’s much better to make the difficult phone call before the story is published than deal with the angry one after it’s been read. But also: the news cycle moves on much faster than you realise. It’s not worth worrying too much about something you’ve already written. Unfortunately, that applies just as much to great yarns as those you’d might like to forget.