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Q&A with Harriet Tatham

Harriet Tatham from the ABC spent her first four years working in small towns before landing in Sydney in 2018. She attended the 2019 national conference under the Connector program.

Tell us about where you work?

I work at ABC Radio Sydney as a feature reporter. This means I file multiplatform stories often across all platforms – digital, radio, social, YouTube and television. There are 50 people in my team, but only three of us who don’t work producing or presenting radio, which makes us stand out. It’s within the ABC’s Ultimo office, so I work with about 2000 other employees.

It’s quite a change from my last four years of working in remote Queensland communities with the ABC.

Harriet Tatham’s workplace now and then. Photos: Supplied

What is your typical day?

It begins with me listening to the breakfast program and working out whether there’s capacity for a story to be expanded and turned into a digital story with video and pictures. Otherwise, I’m video editing, interviewing, transcribing, writing, or promoting my content on social. We have an editorial meeting at 11am each day.

How often do you connect with other women in media and how important is that to you?

Very important. I talk to a number of female colleagues in Sydney and around the country. Most of them work for the ABC too, so understand the role and the context. I feed off female energy.

Why did you apply for the Connector Program?

I applied for the Connector Program so I could make it to the conference and connect with other women. I hadn’t been before and hadn’t had any contact with Women in Media, so was curious to find out more. It’s difficult to express in words how grateful I am for being able to attend.

How would you describe the national conference?

Two days of connecting and sharing stories with other women in the media at the conference. It’s entertaining but also highly valuable in terms of picking up new skills and meeting people from other news organisations. I think it’s great for networking too! I bet some people will get jobs out of the weekend.

Women in Media Queensland convenor Cathie Schnitzerling with Patricia Karvelas. Photo: Monique Grisanti | Uneek Creative

What are your mind-blowing moments from the national conference?

Caroline Graham! What a powerhouse. Her sessions were phenomenal. I did both the data journalism and podcasting and enjoyed them thoroughly. She’s honestly making me consider some postgraduate study.

Patricia Karvelas. Need I say more? Her panel with Cathie Schnitzerling will stay with me. I found the conversation about her voice really valuable. I’ve often had trouble with my voice, so hearing that she did too was encouraging.

The talk about splitting your super when you have a baby! I didn’t even know that was an option. Very clever.

What did you learn that you wish you’d known earlier in your career?

To come to this conference! And to go with the nerves. I loved Peta Stapleton’s advice about utilising and using the stress and fear for good.

What did you learn that will help you at work in the future?

How to use the data scrapers, and the huge amount of natural sound you need for a podcast. Caroline Graham recorded 30 hours of interviews and 20 hours of natural sound for Lost in Larrimah.

Was there a stand out idea or piece of advice from the conference you think everyone should know?

I wrote down a few:

  1. It might be a good job, but it might not be a good job for you.

  2. There’s never a good time for a side project.

  3. Give voice to the secret things you want to do on the side.

  4. Believe in the vocation of journalism.

  5. When data works well, people can see themselves in it.

  6. Always seek legal advice.

  7. If you don’t want to do a story being thrust on you, always have a good story in your back pocket.

  8. If you’re a freelancer, you need six months of ‘eff-off money’ to make it work.

Would you recommend the national conference to a friend?

Definitely. I’ve been raving about it to everyone and will 100 per cent be back next year.


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