Kelly Baker, acting editor of the Wentworth Courier, Mosman Daily and North Shore Times, is a journalist, editor and speaker. She is a regular television commentator and has appeared on The Project, Channel Nine’s Today Show, Today Extra and A Current Affair, amongst others, and co-hosted the podcast Honey Mums. Kelly has a Masters in Professional Writing from UTS, and is currently writing a book about single mothers and female friendship. She tweets @kellybakermedia.
From newspapers and magazines to podcasts and TV, what has been your favourite industry to work in?
There are aspects of each that I love. But, even though I have worked in magazines for a longer time than any other area of media, I started out in newspapers and always find myself returning to them. Print is in my soul and newspapers especially. I like the rough and tumble pace and I enjoy newspaper people. There’s something raw and honest and direct about newspapers that I’m genuinely attached to. Having said that I do love all forms of media.
As the arts and lifestyle editor of NewsLocal’s Prestige titles, describe how your typical day looks.
It’s a cliche but there’s no typical day – especially now with COVID-19 in full force. Our titles have gone into temporary suspension and we’re currently focusing our work online. That changes everything of course as a digital read is quite different to a print read and the same goes for design and so on. Also we’re all working from home and communicating via video calls mainly so that’s different too and I am far more involved in the social media strategy of the three titles than I am when in the office. I’m actually loving that. It satisfies my magazine cravings in a strange way as it can cross over somewhat. Also, I am currently working as acting editor so that’s a change too.
How do you go about finding ideas and information for stories?
I get up early each day and scour all of the titles that relate to the areas we cover first and foremost. But I tend to read very widely at all times also. That’s always inspiring ideas or thoughts or concepts that I think will work for our readership. On top of that I work with a team of incredibly talented people who are always on the hunt for a good story so that changes everything. And, our readers come to us too which I love. There are so many ordinary folk doing extraordinary things and as a trio of community publications we love to hear about local stories, events and happenings. Then of course there’s the hard-working people working in communications and PR who contact us with ideas 24-7.
How has the nation’s coronavirus pandemic affected your day-to-day job?
Oops. I think I answered that by accident above! But to elaborate I am doing most of my interviewing via the phone these days. Our photographers are still out working but they’re ultra cautious at all times – gloves, masks and of course 1.5m or more away.
Our hours seem to have changed too. It seems like we’re working every day – at least a little … I guess that’s what happens when you work from home.
Walk us through your process on how you sort through your press releases, from what’s usable and what’s not.
Hmm… there’s news sense first and foremost. I know instantly if an idea or concept will work for us, be it as it is or with some tweaking. I am not a big fan of press releases that contain a raft of quotes from a professional person who has been hired by a company to be their spokesperson. Often the information isn’t really there – it’s just a bunch of different ways to use that particular product. Having said that – I look at them. Sometimes there’s something in there that will work within another story. I do wish they’d just come as Word documents and not PDFs with embedded images and links and the rest… I have to take all of those out. Also, a good hook is a good hook. It doesn’t need to look like a school project to get anyone’s attention.