Interview with Rae Johnston, Editor of Gizmodo Australia
Rae Johnston is the Editor of Gizmodo Australia, the producer of Static Podcast, and a television host for NITV’s The Point, and SBS’s The Feed and Small Business Secrets. Rae will be launching Rewired later this year, a new kids’ show about Indigenous science on NITV. You can also catch her on ABC Radio chatting about technology, science and pop culture. Her Twitter handle is @raejohnston.
You’ve worked in tech journalism for several years. What interested you about the industry, and what are some of the rewards of working in it?
I’m passionate about exploring the ways technology can benefit our lives. I started off being one of the few people in mainstream media defending technology against some pretty brutal misinformation. Nowadays, almost a decade later, I get to really delve into the broader reaches of tech – sharing stories of people using technology to change the world.
A 2013 Sydney Morning Herald article spoke about you needing to defend your gaming credentials for wearing a Bioshock Infinite t-shirt. What are some unique challenges you face as a woman in the tech industry?
In the beginning, I felt a real pressure to prove myself, it really felt like everyone was looking for a reason to delegitimise me in some way. I felt quite alone back then. Now, I’m driven to use my platform to raise the voices of other people historically underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields – and I’m using my life experiences to assist other women in STEM through the Working Lunch mentorship program.
For a press release to grab your attention, what should it contain?
Some great images, an embeddable video, the opportunity to speak to someone with passion for their product – which is the most important part. What problem is it solving? Why should people know about it? These are the things that will really hook me in. That, and it hitting my inbox instead of my Twitter direct messages, private Facebook profile or *shudder* LinkedIn messages.
You are very active on social media. How does social media complement your work?
I have a real love/hate relationship with social media. But I use them for what they are – tools. Instagram is a visual journal for me, and a place where I’ll share my long-term projects like #raevstheselfie, #12dietsin12months or #couchpotatotowonderwoman. My Facebook page is where I share all of my professional work – articles, TV appearances, radio spots, photo shoots – it helps me keep track, and acts somewhat like a CV. Twitter is a necessary evil. It’ a great place to find leads on stories, chat to professional contacts, share my work – but it really can be a drain. And don’t even get me started on LinkedIn!
What is your most memorable moment as a journalist and why?
Sitting around the fire with the Anangu elders and the Mutitjulu community members at Uluru when Google launched Street View at the site. We discussed the delicate balance between technology preserving and destroying culture, and the importance of people having the means to tell their own stories. It reminded me why I do what I do, and I’ve carried that moment with me every day since.