The accidental journalist: 5 minutes with Channel 7's Jodi Lee
She Does This spends 5 minutes with Channel 7 reporter Jodi Lee on how she accidentally got into journalism, covering the Bourke Street Massacre and her hopes for the future...
When did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in journalism?
I stumbled on journalism by accident. I studied advertising at university and as I prepared to graduate my peers were applying to ad school and getting excited about joining an agency. I began to panic. I was interning at an agency but wasn’t enjoying it and already knew the industry wasn’t for me. One day I was asked to assist on a TV commercial shoot. I loved the energy of being on set and the creativity of the production and instantly knew that’s where I wanted to be. The next week I cold-called Sunrise at Channel Seven and asked for an internship. They offered me a five day placement, and I never left!
Television is an extremely competitive industry and landing a job as a news reporter is a dream so many journalists don't get to realise. Can you describe how you got your break?
I didn’t initially want to be a reporter so my path was quite organic. There was no, one “big break”. My first job was as an intern at Sunrise and The Morning Show. Slowly, I trained as a segment producer. From there I developed a real obsession with news and went to work in regional TV, first at Prime7 then WIN News in Canberra.
After a few years out bush I took a punt and moved back to Sydney. I worked nights as a producer and reported on weekends before landing a full time job. I never had a leg up or a connection in the industry, but I found mentors incredibly valuable. Along the way I developed great relationships with experienced journalists who were kind enough to critique my work, offer advice and guide me.
What advice would you give aspiring news reporters who are trying to get into the media?
The best advice is to back yourself and never give up. The news cycle is fast-paced and unrelenting. This means bosses are often short on time and patience. It’s important to have a thick skin and to be persistent. Do the hard work for them. Instead of waiting for a big break, show management you can already do the job. Learn to be flexible and resourceful. Things rarely happen the way you expect, but that doesn’t mean
they can’t still be achieved.
You’ve covered some huge news stories, and one that stands out is the Bourke St attack in 2017. What was it like it work on a story that rocked the nation?
Covering the Bourke St tragedy was harrowing. I’d only ever known the city as a hub of activity, but that day it was eerily quiet. The number of victims just kept climbing, and as the days went on we learnt more about who they were and the loved ones they left behind. It never becomes easy to report on innocent people losing their lives or to witness the aftermath of a mass casualty. But Bourke St also instilled in
me a great deal of hope and taught me about the incredible kindness within the community. I met dozens of people who became heroes that day. Police officers, taxi drivers, tourists and office workers who ran to help when everyone else ran for cover. They cradled strangers in their dying moments so, at the very least, they weren’t alone. Those stories will never leave me.
You’ve still got such a long career ahead of you, where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
As journalists we witness people at their best and at their worst. It’s an honour to have people from all facets of the community open up to us and share their stories. I’ve never lost sight of what a privilege this is. In 10 years time I hope I’m still afforded this opportunity to connect with people and give them a voice and a platform. In doing so, it would be incredible if my work could affect positive change -
particularly in the areas of tolerance and gender equality. That would be a decade well spent!