This week, we welcome Channel Nine newsreader Vanessa O’Hanlon into the #CommsCorner. After being part of the launch of ABC News Breakfast, Vanessa is now part of the team bringing a new regional news service to NSW for Channel Nine.
What’s you elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?
Adaptable and motivated, I started in the media because of my passion for music and worked my way from reporting in a helicopter to news-reading. Adventurous and private. But socially outgoing with friends and family.
Tell us about a typical day working in the media.
It varies depending on events and publicity commitments but typically it’s about staying across what’s happening. Mornings are usually spent reading papers and online stories. Afternoons pre-reading, editing stories, recording (local stories) and putting together the live bulletin that airs at 6pm.
When did you first know you wanted to be a journalist?
It came to me in a round about way. At school I always had an interest in politics and current affairs and was on the SRC and School Council but I also fell in love with music. I enjoyed interviewing bands and artists. Working in a newsroom on ABC News Breakfast I knew I wanted to be more involved in the news side of presenting, I love the fast pace and how news evolves.
Which journalist from around the world do you most admire?
Growing up I loved Jana Wendt – who didn’t. She was sassy and classy.
I have been very fortunate to work with some great talent. To watch Virginia Trioli in action certainly inspired me but I am even more blessed to call her a friend.
What communication tools can’t you live without?
The internet – what a game changer.
Last year I would have said sites such as Bureau of Meterology, Accuweather and BBC weather.
Social media sites such as Twitter – although you need to weed out fake news. If there is a journalist you trust, having them on the scene of an event is the best source of keeping up to date.
What are the biggest challenges you face? And what are the biggest opportunities?
I guess it’s the same for everyone – it’s becoming complacent. The world of technology is changing at such a rapid pace and it’s hard to keep up with what is relevant.
Right now I would have to say my biggest opportunity is working with Channel 9. I started up NSW Regional News back in February so it has been a case of head down and work hard.
Tell us about the news coverage you are most proudest of?
This is a double edged sword – I am proud of being part of Australia’s first rolling free to air news channel (I was there for the start of News 24). It was a game changer to how we now see and receive news, but at the same time I wonder what it is doing to us psychologically especially with the growing rate of terrorism and the shift we have seen in politics. Are we giving some people and groups too much coverage? Or are we becoming more knowledgeable and better informed.
But right now, my proudest moment is broadcasting local stories back into regional areas. There are a lot of towns that feel isolated and are struggling economically and need to feel a stronger connection to the rest of the country.
What’s been the biggest change to the newsroom since you began your career?
Where do we begin? News has evolved in so many ways. You used to have a daily paper and a nightly news service. Journalists had the luxury of working on a story and setting the news agenda. It was recorded and edited, now the focus is on ‘here and now’ usually in the form of live crosses.
Technology has changed that, like most industries the key to surviving is multi-skilling. A journalist needs to write, edit and know how to gather stories and perform across all platforms from online, radio to television.
If you had to cut, create or change something from your reporting toolkit, what would it be?
My career path has been a little different than others but if I had my time again I would have liked to have honed my skills around reporting and packaging because if time permitted I would love to make documentaries.
What book/blog/news source do you think every communicator should read?
There are so many options to choose from but it must be a source that is trustworthy and portrays a standard of accuracy and impartiality. My go to is Twitter to begin with, you’ll find an eclectic range of articles.
What tips do you wish you known before starting out in journalism?
To not stress about the little things. Take on everything you are offered – don’t let fear stand in the way. However you are feeling – everyone else feels the same, we are all human.
Finish this sentence: Communication is …. The key to expressing yourself to someone else.