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10 questions with Andrea Ho

What is your current role?

Director of Education, Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

How did you get involved in journalism?

Against the advice of my family who have science backgrounds, I studied journalism at university in the 90s when cadetships had almost disappeared, but was briefly seduced by music radio.

It was hard to make the jump into entry-level journalism in Melbourne because then – as now – you get your foot in the door with casual shifts, but I couldn’t afford to drop my full-time work.

So I moved to regional NSW and in time landed a second job as a casual Saturday presenter, which led to a producer role at ABC New England.

I think this is called, “coming in at the ground floor”.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

The emergency broadcasting work.

As an on-air presenter, producer, editorial manager.

I’ve worked dozens of fires, floods, storms, and even a cyclone, droughts too, over five states and territories.

The direct impact your work has on the lives of your audience is truly humbling.

Also the Beaconsfield Mine collapse work will stay with me forever.

After EP-ing 10 days of broadcasts for ABC Radio Tasmania, I wept in the Hobart studios as I panelled the national OB from the mine mouth on the morning the trapped miners were freed.

What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered?

Getting the news media industry to understand ‘lived experience’ as a type of subject matter expertise, and that diversity of subject matter expertise is essential to good quality, relevant public interest journalism.

Completing a Churchill Fellowship on increasing diversity in media helped drive interest in the message.

Who has influenced and mentored you?

Every boss who ever took a punt on me.

I’ve been surrounded by amazing women and men throughout my career.

Managing journalists and content is its own skills subset, and I thank the women managers who were my role models and mentors over many years.

What is something no-one knows about you?

Mmm… Nice try, but in these times we should all protect our personal information and keep a few things to ourselves!

How do you wind down of an evening?

Since the pandemic, and a fundraising challenge earlier this year to walk some of the Larapinta Trail, I’ve returned to distance walking.

I moved to Sydney to join JNI and it’s been a great way to learn about my new neighbourhood.

My art practice is on hold since clay studios have been shut.

What are you reading at the moment?

Linda Jaivin’s latest book, The Shortest History of China is a rollicking read.

Next in line is Gabrielle Chan’s Why You Should Give a F*ck About Farming.

And to feed my imagination I’m re-reading Frank Herbert’s Dune, a sprawling series I return to every couple of years — I can’t wait for the new film.

What does the immediate future hold?

The Global Investigative Journalism Conference — it’s a practical conference every working journalist should attend, to pick up new ideas and techniques, and network with the global community of journalists.

JNI is co-hosting the virtual conference on 1–5 November 2021 so you can join no matter how locked down you are.

But you must come to Sydney for the 2022 conference, it’ll be the first time GIJC is run in our part of the world, and everyone who’s anyone will be here.

Describe a perfect day in your role?

A perfect day anywhere has a mix that includes: a challenge; a win; a conversation; a laugh; adding value for a colleague; and learning something new.

No matter what my role is, if my day has these things, it’s perfect.


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