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From cheese-covered fingers to interviewing icons: Samantha Jonscher's journey of embracing “Yes”

Samantha Jonscher, 2023 Women in Media National Conference
Samantha Jonscher, 2023 Women in Media National Conference
Samantha Jonscher, recipient of the Caroline Jones Women in Media Young Journalist’s Award for 2022 interviewed Leigh Sales AM at the WiM national conference. Jonscher started her career with the ABC five years ago in regional South Australia, before becoming a senior news reporter in Alice Springs, and is now in Melbourne with The Project. In her own words, she embraces the importance of saying “yes” and reflects on WiM’s support and its impact.

Words by Samantha Jonscher

On a June day in Canberra, over a treacherously well-appointed toastie, the very warm, very shrewd and very accomplished Emma Macdonald OAM (multi-award-winning journalist, maternal health advocate and Women in Media ACT Convenor) shared the story of her career.

It crescendoed with some sage advice: Always say “yes” to any opportunity that comes your way.

Samantha Jonscher, Jenna Clarke, Emma Macdonald
Samantha Jonscher, Jenna Clarke, Emma Macdonald

Emma - possibly the most graceful person I’ve ever met - was eating her brimming toastie with a poise that should be studied by modern science.

I’d spent the last few days in Canberra, sitting in at various Parliament House bureaus and touring the city with Emma.

As cheese grease streamed down my fingers and threatened to stain my pants, I took note. I obviously had a lot to learn.

A few weeks later, Emma called me up and reminded me of this advice, before inviting me to interview Australia’s pre-eminent interviewer on stage at the upcoming Women in Media conference.

Left with no other option, I had to say “yes”.

Leigh Sales' new book Storytellers collates the collective wisdom of many of the best journalists in Australia and for any reporter, at any level of experience, it can be taken as a kind of textbook.

She reckons journalists are essentially tradies. What we do is incredibly practical and as a craft, it requires experience above all else.

Leigh Sales AM, Samantha Jonscher
Leigh Sales AM, Samantha Jonscher

Journalism is best learned from those who have come before us and by getting our hands dirty.

Leigh, like Emma, and like many other women I've met this year, takes mentorship very seriously. Something I am very grateful for.

Safe to say, I still haven’t worked out how to meticulously eat a toastie, but I do feel as if I’ve had an incredibly lucky leg up in my career, thanks to the Caroline Jones Women in Media Young Journalist's Award.

I never had the honour of meeting Caroline, but she sent me several very generous notes over the years, about my work. I am confident she would feel the award and WiM were in good hands.

A year ago, I was working in a remote corner of the country, loving my job but hungry to gain new skills. Months on, I’ve met some of Australia’s best journalists, had a glimpse of how they do what they do and been forced to put some of those new skills into practice. It's been a proper apprenticeship.

*Applications are open for the Caroline Jones Women in Media Young Journalist’s Award, now in its seventh year. Caroline was Women in Media’s inaugural patron, and we honour her proud legacy with this award which bears her name and recognises tenacity and passion for the craft of journalism from young women working across rural and regional Australia. Applications close on September 15.


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