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Journalist Spotlight | Interview with Sean Slatter, Journalist for IF Magazine

03 July, 2024

Today, Medianet is joined by Sean Slatter. Sean shares some key differences in the roles of Journalists from over a decade ago, as well as a glimpse into the career highlights of his role at IF Magazine thus far. Screenshot 2024-07-04 092845

Hi Sean! Can you tell me a little bit about the start of your career? You’ve mentioned how “laying out pages” was one of your duties back in 2012 and I wanted to know what are some other big changes in the transition from print to digital?

Sure! My first role was as a Sports Journalist for the North West Star, a daily newspaper in Mount Isa. After a few months, I decided I wanted to be closer to my family in Sydney, so I took a position as a News/Sports reporter at The Cootamundra Herald, which was a Fairfax regional non-daily newspaper. For each edition, the Senior Journalist and I would have to write how many centimetres each story would take up on a chart, which would then guide the design of each page. We had a page designer who laid the ads and editorial based on hand-drawn templates. By the time of my next journalist position at the Macleay Argus in Kempsey, there was a shift towards standardised templates. However, the biggest change I noticed in those early years was the growing role of social media in newsrooms. You went from getting in trouble for looking at Facebook to getting in trouble for not looking at Facebook!

Throughout your career, you’ve also worked for various publications. What are the biggest differences between how these outlets plan and produce content?

In Cootamundra, it was just me and one other journalist and we didn’t have news meetings. It wasn’t until I was at the Macleay Argus in 2014, with a slightly bigger team, that I got to experience the vital role that daily news meetings play in regional journalism. The simple question of ‘What’s going on in your neck of the woods?’ can produce leads and follow-ups. The last newspaper job I had was at The Examiner in Launceston in 2018/2019, when there was a big focus on making sure stories were SEO friendly. This meant there would be two versions of a story, one for digital and one for print. The science of how and when content was shared on social media also became more prominent in morning meetings.

In one of your recent articles, you wrote about AI and its impact on creatives being part of the AWG’s agenda. Have you used AI in your own work and do you believe that the impact of AI on creative industries v the news industries differ?

I’ve used AI-based transcribing tools for interviews but it has not really featured in my job beyond that. I think we are reaching a watershed moment in the way AI is used across the creative and news industries with the deals that are being cut and various lawsuits that are ongoing. I think it has the potential to be used as a tool for efficiency in both industries but transparency is key, especially when regulation is not immediately forthcoming.

As a journalist for IF Magazine, have you always wanted to write about film/the film and entertainment industry? And what do you hope to see improve for arts journalists/journalism?

I covered entertainment when I was at The Examiner and really enjoyed it. IF is different because it is more industry-facing, so it has been a bit of a learning curve but a fun one. I’ve been exposed to a lot of film and television projects—and the passionate people behind them—that I don’t think I would have seen had it not been for this job. 

I think there is an ever-shrinking cohort of specialist arts journalists, so greater support and recognition of the work that is being done across the industry would be one improvement I would like to see.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career to date? And what else do you hope to achieve in the future?

I’m a massive Black Mirror fan so getting to interview Charlie Brooker last year was pretty memorable for me. It may be kind of boring but I just want to be in a position where I can keep developing my skills and learning new things. If that happens, then I’m happy.

Lastly, what makes a memorable pitch?

I think a personalised greeting and knowing the audience of the outlet you are pitching to. Also good images!

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