We interview Channel 7 TV News Reporter, Jessica Dietrich.
Tell us a little about your job:
There is not a day that is the same! It can start off at 6am chasing a police story from overnight, to sitting in court for four hours, to finishing at a movie premiere interviewing Cate Blanchett! It can get a bit dizzy. If you ask me what story I was covering this time last week, I'd have to stop and think about that for a minute. News is constant and crazy. My workplace if often stressful with a lot of deadlines. It keeps the heart racing and that's why I love it.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue journalism and what did you have to do to get here?:
I love people. I love telling their stories. I felt a strong pull towards media in my teens. Having grown up with a love of music, singing, drama and public speaking, I didn't mind the idea of presenting. When it came to choosing what I was going to do at Uni, I was either going to go to WAAPA and study Musical Theatre and aim for Broadway, or I was going to pursue journalism. I chose that.
I did my Communication degree (I actually did my majors in Public Relations and Advertising). I worked in PR and marketing during Uni and was almost about to go down that path, but I got accepted into a post graduate diploma at WAAPA for Broadcasting. It was a year intensive and during that time I did as much work experience as possible, at Channel 7 in Perth, 6PR and at Channel 7 in Sydney (which actually helped me get the job I have now!)
I moved straight to Sydney after my course and threw my hat in the ring and hoped for the best! I got casual work at Channel 7 to start. Then was offered a full time reporting job at 2GB. It wasn't easy! I regularly worked the overnight shift (get in at 8.30pm... leave at 6 the next morning). I can't say I miss those nights! But it was an important part of my training. I always kept a foot in the door at Channel 7, going in casually for a weekend producing shift on my day off (which meant sometimes I worked 18 or 19 days straight! 18 months later, I started a full time gig at Seven as a News Producer. Hugely rewarding! And that has opened doors for me to get on the road as a TV news reporter. But there's been a lot of sacrifice to get to this point. I work most weekends, all public holidays including Christmas and Easter. I’ve missed birthdays and weddings. There are a lot of very early mornings and very late nights. But I know it's gradually paying off.
What have been some of the biggest lessons you've learnt in your career so far?:
To be fair. And to be kind. Every day I'm forced into challenging situations and conversations. Many stories are very sad… car crashes, deaths. I find myself talking to people who are going through grief. My job is to persuade them to talk, but being a good human is knowing when to respect their privacy and give them space.
I’ve learnt to be bold. I have to ask the hard questions all the time. I like to remind myself this is an opportunity to be a voice (and an ear) for others.
To believe in myself. One thing I realised pretty early on is if you don't back yourself and show confidence, you don't get very far. It's hard to dull the doubting voice inside that says you don’t have the goods and you won’t make it. But you have to block it out. There’s been many a cold call or email to news directors, asking for a chance, spruiking my skills. Doors don’t just open. A lot of the time you have to knock and knock again.. and make yourself known.
Don’t worry about what others are doing. I’m running my own race. I want to achieve my personal best and keep pushing the barriers. I don’t measure my progress in terms of how others are performing.
You have interviewed some pretty interesting people! Favourites?:
Wow! I should really start writing these down so I remember. A lot of people have been pretty cool! Recently I interviewed a 109 year old man, who knits penguin jumpers for a hobbie! It was amazing to meet someone who was still so sharp and witty, despite his age. Jean Paul Gaultier was also quite amazing. He's a huge international fashion icon and was just oozing with passion for what he does. Passionate people always leave a mark on you.
Any embarrassing moments on tv?:
Not yet!! I haven't done too much live TV yet.. but watch this space! I have had a few blunders on radio though. One of those horror midnight shifts, the clocks wound back an hour (so I had 2x 4am bulletins). I confused myself as to what time it was and there was a bit of an on air brain explosion that's been played back to me numerous times and made an ABC show called 'Media Watch' (you NEVER want to be on media watch!) I was pretty upset about it at the time, but I can laugh about it now. You need at least one of those moments to keep it real!
What would be your dream role?:
Full time Entertainment Reporter/Presenter probably! But I'm really happy doing what I'm doing now (I'm only just getting started). It's been a journey getting here and I want to enjoy it.
Do you have any advice for anyone else looking to pursue a career in tv journalism?:
Work experience! Get a foot in the door and soak everything up like a sponge. Start reading the papers, listen to the radio every morning. Do your journalism degree. Ask questions. Learn short hand (I still need to brush up on this). Take whatever opportunity comes up when you finish uni (regional and radio are your best bet!) Always thank the people who give you your break. And make sure you're ready for the ride! It's hardly glamorous (at least not straight away...) It's tough work. You've got to have a real love (and tolerance) of people, Be as good a listener as you are a talker… and have a thick skin.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us and we look forward to seeing your face on our tv screens!