Ever wondered what it takes to succeed as a journalist and what the journey to pursue this career path involves? We sat down with National News Director Deborah Clay to find out more about her career in journalism, how the media industry in Australia has evolved over the past 5 years, her advice for women who are already in the industry or are currently completing their degrees and what it is like to be a regular guest on Channel 7's Sunrise.
Tell us about how your career in journalism came about and your journey to becoming a National News Director?
I started out writing stories for a local newspaper in Sydney’s north-west before landing a radio news role on the AM band. My mum sat by the radio in the dark while waiting for my first early morning bulletin to air; willing something to come out of the speakers. I’ll always be grateful to veteran journalist Peter Shanahan for giving me my break in radio journalism; since then I’ve read thousands of bulletins. The trajectory to becoming a News Director centred around a passion for chasing the news, sharing interesting stories and reading. I was appointed as a Sydney News Director close to 8 years ago, then Sydney and Brisbane News Director at Australian Radio Network 3 years ago and National News Director in March 2017, so the progression has been authentic and gradual.
How have you seen the media industry in Australia evolve and change over the past 5 years?
As we increasingly look at phones for information, turns out Aussie radio is a robust and compelling platform against a backdrop of change. Our listeners don’t hold back, if a particular news story resonates with them they’re calling and emailing us and if they don’t like something they let us know. Our strategy is delivering stories which engage and excite the specific target audience for our stations – KIIS 106.5, KIIS 101.1, 97.3, Mix 102.3, 96M and WSFM, Gold FM, 4KQ, Cruise 1323, as well as youth station The Edge 96.1.
Day in the life or your experience with working on television?
I am a regular guest on Channel 7’s Sunrise so appearing on the Sunrise Newsfeed (the segment is hosted by Kochie) takes a few hours of a Monday before I head to my radio job at ARN (in North Ryde). I show up at Channel 7 in Sydney’s Martin Place nice and early, head down the marble stairs to make-up (where the talented hair and make-up artists give me an expert spruce up) and research the topics for discussion. The segment is live, spontaneous and conversational and I enjoy contributing and listening.
"The segment is live, spontaneous and conversational and I enjoy contributing and listening".
What advice do you have for women who are already in the industry or are currently completing their degrees or considering a career in journalism?
Honesty about your career goals will accelerate progression in the media industry. I think it can sometimes be a mistake accepting a job you don’t enjoy, in the hope it will lead to your dream role in another area and requiring different skills. Try and gain experience in the specific area of interest (don’t worry about what time your alarm clock will go off for the role) and then work hard and wait until the dream gig crops up and throw your hat in the ring. I’ve noticed women can sometimes be reluctant to voice their goals as, early in their career - they’re simply grateful to be part of the media industry.
How would you describe your fashion style?
My fashion sense has two gears – heels, dresses and make-up at work during the week. I like structured dresses which give a nod to a sense of fun and colour. First thing of a Saturday morning you’ll find me standing on a soccer field watching one of my two sons play: I’m the one rocking shorts, a singlet and zero make-up. I like the feeling of letting my skin breathe and relaxing. Let’s call it a knockabout style!
"Honesty about your career goals will accelerate progression in the media industry".
Goals and plans for 2019?
Keep laughing loudly.
Thank you so much Deborah for sharing your valuable advice for those who are considering a career in the media. Follow Deborah on Instagram for all the latest updates and tune in to Sunrise every Monday for the news segment.