Courts, crime and communication

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AmberWilsonIt would be criminal if we didn’t share this fantastic interview with AAP crime and court reporter Amber Wilson; so we’re proud to share her responses in our first Communicator’s Corner for 2019. Discover why Amber believes communication is an art form!

What’s your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

I’m a journalist covering courts and crime in Melbourne’s CBD.

Tell us about a typical day working in the media?

We keep a hawk eye on the news and court lists to find out what cases might be happening on a given day. The early part of the morning is dedicated to planning and then from 9.30am, we’re generally in and out of the Supreme, County, Magistrates and Federal courts chasing stories. We file over lunch, then we’re at it again until the court system wraps up for the day. We could be chasing anything from a high-profile terrorist plot to the murder of a beloved mother to chasing gangland figures in front of the magistrates court. Throughout the day, we’re in contact with our bosses at the bureaus in Melbourne and Rhodes, while liaising with lawyers and associates to find out details of the cases we’re following. Then we’re back at our desks meticulously combing through court lists after COB.

When did you first know you wanted to be a journalist?

I think I knew I wanted to be a writer first – from a very early age – and then I found my direction while I was at uni. It hasn’t been a linear ride though – I’ve segued and branched out – mainly into corporate communications and at one stage even into yoga teaching, before really finding my calling.

What communication tools can’t you live without?

I’m old fashioned. I love using my notepad and pen in my daily work life. Like everyone, I rely on email and social media and quick access to information on my phone. But as far as my mental processing and day-to-day organisation, I can’t go past a real life notepad, a real life diary, and a pen with freely-flowing ink.

What are the biggest challenges you face? And what are the biggest opportunities?

The media is under a huge amount of pressure in the current climate. That makes a lot of us journalists fearful of the future, preparing for the next five years with an “exit strategy”.

But of course the world is evolving, and the way we access news and information will hopefully catch up with the changes in the way we’re living. I think there’s a change in the perception of journalists as a representative of their masthead to being the product itself, and the news organisation the client. That shift in thinking makes reporters their own “small business” and a unique product, which makes them valuable beyond whatever their current job description is.

Tell us about the news coverage that you’re proudest of?

I enjoyed covering the Rebel Wilson defamation case against Bauer Media. Covering the murder case of Melton mother Simone Quinlan was another big one for me – it was deeply sad and a shocking look into domestic violence and the everyday tragedy and violence that surrounds us.

What’s been the biggest change to the newsroom since you began your career?

When I started off as a news cadet, we filed stories in centimetres to a print edition that was the cornerstone of life in that little Tasmanian community. We’d file by 6pm and the locals would read the paper over their Vegemite and coffee at 7am the following morning. It’s just not like that anymore – news is immediate. As soon as an event breaks, we need to file digitally from the scene and update as the day progresses.

What book/blog/news source do you think every communicator should read?

Documentaries really inspire me – they’re such an in-depth look into issues, and the medium of long-form video is so powerful. A lot of my friends are crazy about podcasts, but for me there’s nothing like delving deeply for hours into a fascinating, intriguing documentary and the issues of social justice that they explore.

What tips do you wish you’d known before starting out in journalism?

The best advice I ever received when I was young, and still as an adult believe now: stick at it. Perseverance is powerful.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

…an art form.

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