Interview with Lane Sainty, Editor of BuzzFeed News Australia
Lane Sainty is the editor of BuzzFeed News in Australia. She has worked at BuzzFeed for five years and was one of the organisation’s first news hires in Australia. Prior to becoming editor in August 2019, Lane was a reporter covering various rounds including LGBTQ rights, politics and courts. She tweets at @lanesainty.
You began your career working in a student newspaper – how did that prepare you for your current role?
It was where I learned and practised the basics: writing, pitching, adhering to deadlines. Later, when I became an editor of the paper, it was more about strategy, innovation and ethics — plus a crash course in dealing with controversy and criticism! Grappling with these things early on, in the relatively small ecosystem of a university, was invaluable. More than that, though, working on the student newspaper solidified my conviction that journalism was what I wanted to do with my life. Now in an unpredictable industry, I am grateful for that clarity.
What aspects of journalism motivate you the most?
I have a particular love for journalism that gives you a real sense of the fabric of someone’s life, that takes you inside their reality — whether it’s tragic, funny, absurd, or even mundane. I think being able to evoke emotion in people and get them to see the world from a different perspective is an extraordinary power. And if that brief period of transportation can lead to real-world action, then that is the dream, I think for most reporters and editors.
If there has been one BIG lesson in getting to the stage you’re at now, what would that be?
You’ve got to roll with the punches and take nothing for granted.
What have you learned about your readers at Buzzfeed since you became editor?
One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the (unoriginal) idea that we are truly in the age of the grift and the scam. In the social media hellhole we all unhappily coexist in, there are more opportunities than ever before for people to lie or spread false information. And their motivations can range from profit to narcissism to political influence to trolling. Our readers are both wise to this and fascinated by it.
Walk us through your process on how you sort through your press releases, from what’s usable and what’s not.
My team is focused on original beat reporting and does not rely heavily on press releases. I would encourage people to send us story tips on women’s rights, immigration, tech, online culture and young people. We tend to avoid pitches that are thinly-veiled ads for brands/businesses or that are pre-written “listicles” (also, you can just say list!).