Tell us about your journey into the role of Editor in Chief of West Australian Newspapers?
I started my career as a Cadet for the Collie Mail – a small newspaper in a regional mining town. I was fresh out of university and treasured my time as a regional reporter because you’re literally thrown in the deep end and simply have to learn fast. You’re also taught pretty quickly that every story (and every fact) matters because you would literally hear it from residents on the street as you went about your business. From there I worked in Mandurah, and then to News Corp for The Sunday Times in Perth. I was a reporter for a few years, which included being selected by the company for a secondment in New York. I became Chief of Staff and then Deputy Editor of The Sunday Times and PerthNow before heading to Sydney to become Deputy Editor of The Daily Telegraph. After three years in Sydney, I was offered the job of Editor in Chief of West Australian Newspapers.
What does a typical day in your role look like?
In two words, organised chaos. The 24/7 news cycle and being the Editor in Chief of the daily newspaper, the Sunday newspaper, our two metropolitan websites, our 19 regional newspapers and our 12 suburban newspapers … means I am almost always “on”. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Typically, I wake up about 5am (I have two beautiful young kids) and I go to bed about midnight. I’m constantly checking my phone and talking to my Chief of Staff, Reporters and Assistant Editors. The mainstays of my day are my 10am news meeting, my 2pm news meeting, my first newspaper deadline (7pm) and the main newspaper deadline (9pm). But the key to being a good editor is to try to stay as ‘loose’ as possible as the day and night unfolds because you literally never know when a massive story is going to happen.
What is one of the biggest news stories The West Australian has covered this year that has captivated readers?
I will never forget the 4am phone call from then Police Commissioner Chris Dawson telling me that “I had better get to work because they’ve found Cleo”. It’s going to be very hard to top the police rescue of Cleo Smith after 19 days of being kidnapped in terms of sheer joy as an editor. But, I am also extremely proud of the work the reporters do on important social affairs issues like racism and sexism almost every day. I would start listing out my favourite stories since taking on The West Editor role but I can sincerely say there would be too many and I wouldn’t be able to stop.
Who or what inspires you most?
I think journalism is about being brave. Asking questions that others wouldn’t. Daring to knock on a door that everyone else is too timid to try. Standing up for what’s right. Daryna Zadvirna’s self-shot documentary on returning to the Ukraine during the war was one of the bravest and most inspiring things I have ever seen by a journalist I have worked with. The many countless investigations by Annabel Hennessy. Caitlyn Rintoul’s Walkley Award-winning expose on sexual assaults in the mining industry. Again, I’m really lucky and proud to say there’s inspiring journalism every day by all of our reporters.
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
You can’t edit yesterday’s newspaper. And to remember to have fun. Journalism is seriously the most fun job in the world — so much so that I often feel guilty when I tell people what I get to do for a living. In the cut-and-thrust of the 24/7 media cycle it can be easy to forget that. We actually get paid to do what we love.