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The Final Countdown

February 22, 2021

The Final Countdown

“When COVID hit, Women in Media really got going”

COVID-19 may have shut down many parts of the world, but certainly not the media industry.

While thousands of employees continue to work from home, many journalists around the world are in studios, newsrooms or out in the field working overtime to keep the public informed during these unprecedented times.

On the warm evening of December 9, many of those journalists gathered for just the second Women in Media (WiM) event for 2020, a Sundowner featuring veteran broadcaster, Gillian O’Shaughnessy.

Vicki Laurie welcomed everyone and spoke briefly about the adversity and challenges faced by many this year, while also highlighting the fact Women in Media was still able to achieve their goal of empowering women.

“When COVID hit, Women in Media really got going,” she said

Although WiM members were not able to have physical events for a majority of 2020, they were still able to connect with each other through a series of free webinars called “WiM Bytes.”

The mentoring program didn’t stop either, with 25 online mentors in WA alone offering one on one development opportunities for up-and-coming journalists.

The Sundowner allowed those mentors and mentees the chance to come together face to face, while also giving them the chance to hear from one broadcast legend: O’Shaughnessy.

From a dream of being in radio plays to working across radio, television and online news in the Perth newsroom, the audience listened intently as O’Shaughnessy reflected on her 24 years at the ABC as she prepares to hang up the headphones for good.

Although she has interviewed the likes of Jane Fonda and Ian McKellen, O’Shaughnessy said her favourite people to speak to were those unscripted talkback callers.

“Listeners who trust you with their stories… the sense of community and those incredible connections are what I will miss the most.”

O’Shaughnessy is now chasing a different career in the form of fiction writing, which unexpectedly stemmed as therapy for her trauma from abseiling.

“This is in line with my philosophy in life, you should always say yes to something you don’t know how to do.”

O’Shaughnessy left the audience with a final message: don’t lose sight of telling the stories that matter but while doing so, make sure you take care of yourself.

“The number of people who read an article is not the value of them,” she said.

“Stay curious, tell good stories… It’s wonderful to be creative but make sure you take care of yourself.”

Kate Massey is a graduate of ECU’s Graduate Diploma of broadcasting who has gone on to write for The West Australian and produce for 6PR. In 2021 Kate joins the team at 7NEWS Perth as a reporter and producer.

Cason Ho is a final year of a mass communications student at Curtin University, with a passion for photography and videography.