It’s been a big year for Sky News journo Ashleigh Gillon. In March she won the Wallace Brown Award, which honours excellence in reporting by young press gallery journalists. Then in July Gillon nabbed the ASTRA Award (the pay TV awards) for most outstanding performance by a broadcast journalist, thanks to her work covering the downfall of Kevin Rudd.
Each day Gillon sits down to interview politicians, key players and opinion makers as host of Sky News’ Lunchtime Agenda. But who does she think offers the best coverage in Australia?
Gillon’s the latest expert in Crikey‘s quality journalism project, which quizes Australia’s most interesting journalistic minds to find out what good journalism means to them and where they go to get it. Laura Tingle, Leigh Sales, Chris Mitchell, Alan Kohler, Wendy Bacon, Mark Colvin, George Negus, George Megalogenis, Marni Cordell and Tom Switzer have all stepped up to the plate — if there’s an expert you’d love to hear from, please let us know.
But now it’s over to Sky News journalist Ashleigh Gillon …
CRIKEY: What is your definition of quality journalism?
AG: It’s something we all aspire to but struggle to define. This one is tricky to answer, especially when you contemplate the cost cutting going on across mediums. Social media also adds a new and ever-changing dynamic; everyone seems to call themselves a “journalist” these days.
I guess in whatever medium you are working in, the basics always ring true — quality journalism is all about being accurate, fair and ethical. The latter being particularly front of mind as we reflect on recent events in the UK.
Ashleigh Gillon’s personal top 10 quality journalism sources in Australia
In no particular order…
- Sky News: If news breaks I trust our newsroom to have it.
- AM and PM Agenda. If it has happened that day in politics, David Speers and Kieran Gilbert will be across it. They always carry out insightful interviews with leading politicians and opinion formers. Their rolling coverage of breaking political news is the best in the country.
- The Australian: The paper is a must-read for me in the morning, then I monitor online stories through the day. I particularly enjoy opinion pieces by Paul Kelly, Dennis Shanahan and Peter Van Onselen.
- Fairfax papers collectively: Can’t go past analysis by Peter Hartcher and Michelle Grattan. I have a lot of respect for Phil Coorey; his work is consistently excellent. Laura Tingle always nails it in the Financial Review ; her columns are a must read.
- 7.30: Great political interviews with Chris Uhlmann; I rarely miss it. Plus I have a girl-crush on Leigh Sales! She’s very impressive.
- Sky News Business Channel: There’s so much crossover between politics and business so tuning in keeps me across developments in the business world. Carson Scott and Brooke Corte also make it interesting for non-finance types!
- AM and Breakfast (Fran Kelly): Excellent mix of local, national and international yarns. I’m a huge fan of Fran Kelly; her interviews always get to the core of the issue and she’ll usually come up with a new angle to top it off.
- Laurie Oakes on Nine News: If Laurie turns up to a National Press Club address (or just a simple news conference) you know he’s got a great story brewing. He writes an excellent script.
- The West Australian & Perth Now/Sunday Times: I like to keep across what’s happening in my home town and Andrew Probyn, Shane Wright, Nick Butterly and Andrew Tillet from The West‘s Canberra bureau regularly break yarns.
- Four Corners: Sarah Ferguson is consistently brilliant in her ability to break stories and provide a forensic examination of a wide range of issues.
CRIKEY: What media do you consume on a daily basis?
- Twitter: I admit I monitor Twitter more than I contribute. I generally scan it on an hourly basis; it draws my attention to things I’ve missed and gives me a good sense of the yarns people are actually interested in. It’s the modern day water-cooler and its immediacy is invaluable in a breaking news situation. Must-follows for me include John Bergin, Latika Bourke, Mark Colvin, Samantha Maiden and Mia Freedman.
- Breakfast Politics and Capital Circle: I hang out for these to pop into my inbox every morning. For my job I need to know where the pollies are and what they’re up to and I can rely on James Massola (Capital Circle) to do the leg work. Breakfast Politics gives a great wrap of what’s around locally and I also appreciate being directed to some of the best of the international news stories floating around.
What particular stories — either Australian or international — do you think are classic examples of quality journalism?
AG: The most recent example that springs to mind is Alex Crawford’s efforts in Libya for BSky. Her live crosses from the back of a rebel truck as they advanced on Tripoli was live broadcast journalism at its best.
David Speers was outstanding leading Sky’s coverage of Kevin Rudd’s knifing. His sources are top-notch and during those manic first few hours he was constantly breaking developments. I’ve been working alongside him for years and I am still in awe of his ability to make perfect sense of an unfolding news event while staying so calm and collected on air.
Also, although we’re taught in Journalism 101 not to become the story, I am always drawn to (and impressed by) gutsy stories where the journalists do end up being involved in the process, for example: