Q1. What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job, hands down, is the diversity of people I get to meet and have meaningful conversations with. As a journalist, I would talk with movers and shakers, household names, and ‘everyday’ people with extraordinary stories that stay with you for life.
Much to my delight, meeting extraordinary people continued when I moved into the talks and ideas space. The philosophers, thinkers and writers I spoke with and cast in public debates and conversations stretched and expanded my own understanding of our world.
And of course, there’s also all the people I’ve had the great fortune of working alongside. Media is a stimulatingly diverse field to be in, a broad church full of interesting characters with all sorts of skills and attributes – whether it be storytelling, technical craft, PR, advertising, communications, legal expertise, news and current affairs… We can learn something from anyone and when I imagine what life would be like if I chose a different path, I imagine it would be nowhere near as interesting.
Q2. What skills have been the most useful in your work?
This is more of an approach that leads to new skills at work: roll up your sleeves and get it done. It seems to be something that has rubbed off on me from the fast-working journalists I’ve been surrounded by; the realities of having to be resourceful in the not-for-profit sector and being raised in a single parent household (love you Mum). Sometimes delegating something you haven’t done before or waiting for training or support is less efficient than giving the task at hand a go yourself. It’s the surest way to learn new skills.
Q3. Who or what in the media inspires you?
I’m inspired by people in media who are polite. Sounds twee but I’m absolutely serious. There are lots of stressful jobs across the media landscape. Lots of deadlines and responsibilities that lead to missed meals, missed sleep and missed moments in life. Lots of high profiles, lots of public criticism – especially for women – and, let’s be honest, lots of egos. It’s a recipe for tetchiness. Yet somehow, there are all these good-natured people in media that don’t let these stresses shape the way they engage with others. I find that remarkable and inspirational. A few polite or encouraging words and friendly interactions go a long way in making someone’s day.
Q4. What’s the most useful advice you’ve had?
It’s tempting to leave these two simple yet powerful words at that, but I’ll elaborate. They came from a friend when they saw I was allowing weeds of self-doubt to grow. It’s good advice for everyday and professional life. It’s not encouragement to be overconfident or ungrateful, or a suggestion to advocate for yourself above working in service to your organisation and its purpose. It’s a reminder to stand by your achievements, ideas, and goals when others might not even know what they are. Everyone has their own narratives about how the world works and should be, and sometimes, full of good intent, they want to shape you with those ideals. And the best time to back yourself is when you feel you are being limited by others.
Q5. What are you looking forward to?
I’m truly excited for 2024 and the year ahead for the incredible Women in Media community. I’ve been connecting with many amazing members the past few weeks and have been treated to countless messages of sincere support. You have been telling me loud and clear how much love, respect and need there is for the Women in Media community.
I’m looking forward to helping Women in Media continue to build on its successful research which has been revealing the need for active commitment to gender equality in more pathways to promotion; better access to, and support from, leadership; opportunities for upskilling, and salary transparency and audits to address media’s higher-than-average pay gap.
In a promising step, mandatory gender equality reporting for Australian organisations with 500 or more employees has been introduced for this year. We welcome this but know there is still work to be done.
And it’s not just about our career satisfaction or the pay gap. The 2023 Women in Media Gender Scorecard found just 43% of bylines were by women, with only 18% of sport stories written by women. The 2024 Olympic Summer Games in Paris presents an excellent opportunity to shift this.
Women in Media have big plans for 2024 in taking the organisation into its next phase. I’m looking forward to addressing gender equality together in 2024 and seeing what we achieve. Together, we are powerful.
Kym Middleton is an award-winning journalist and producer with a career spanning editorial leadership, live programming, screen production, and digital strategy and storytelling. Her background includes notable contributions to institutions such as the Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism, ABC, SBS, The Ethics Centre, and Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.