Podcast Episode Transcription: Season 2, Episode 1

Leah Lambart: Welcome to another episode of the CGA Career Podcast. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Jack Paynter who finished at Caulfield in 2011 and has worked as a journalist for many publications, but is currently working as a journalist for Cricket Australia. Welcome to the podcast, Jack.

Jack Paynter: Hi, Leah. Thanks for having me.

Leah Lambart: Jack, look, I always like to start at the beginning. Are you happy to talk us through your career journey since leaving Caulfield, and how you actually landed on journalism as a career in the first place?

Jack Paynter: Yeah, sure. So it probably, probably started at Caulfield, to be honest. I did a subject in year 12 called International Studies, with Gus Humphens. And, that’s sort of where I developed a passion for writing. So when I left school and looked at going to uni, I sort of thought of ways that I could, sort of do writing as a profession and sort of landed on journalism and combine that with marketing at Monash University. But it wasn’t probably until that year 3 of university when I had my first story published, in The Age that I thought, you know, I could do this. I could make this as a career.

So, I made a bit of a conscious effort then to start sort of doing a few internships. Did one at the Herald Sun, which is really good because, you know, they had a good internship program there, which is, you know, if you impress the right people, you could sort of, land a job as an editorial assistant, which was sort of, you know, answering phones, writing a few picture stories, a few briefs, which is what happened to me. And then from there, after I graduated uni, I managed to get a job at Leeds Newspapers, which was also a News Corp publication. So that was sort of how I got my foot in the door there. And then that was my first full-time job out of uni. And I’d sort of been with News Corp up until I joined Cricket Australia last year.

Leah Lambart: The media industry has been in decline, I guess, over the last 15 years and we hear that, you know, it’s really difficult for journalists to get jobs. It sounds like it wasn’t that difficult for you to start your career as a graduate, but how did it affect perhaps some of your other cohort or other university colleagues?

Jack Paynter: Yeah. Well, I wouldn’t say it’s been in decline. I guess newspapers certainly have, but with that sort of comes new media, like, you know, podcasts and online and, you know, a lot of other stuff. So I’ve always found that there’s always been opportunities out there if you’re willing to sort of learn new skills, try new things. There’s always going to be a job there. It might not be the one that you initially thought that you would go straight into, but if you work through it, you’re always willing to learn. Like there’s always opportunities out there, which is what I found. It hasn’t really affected me, or too many people I know, per se.

I guess, you find that there’s you go through a few different rounds of redundancies, just the way with how companies are restructuring. But because I was young and I wasn’t, sort of in that more senior group, it didn’t really affect me too much. But, yeah, I think, yeah, at the end of the day, the thing that I found is I was willing to like try new things and learn new skills. There was always going to be an opportunity for me whether that was, you know, with News Corp or somewhere else like Cricket Australia, which is an online publication.

You know, they’ve got no print arm of that. And there’s a lot of companies like that as well, like Guardian Australia, news.com.au, all have big online presences. So I think that’s sort of where the industry is going. It’s kind of stabilized at the moment, certainly with, you know, companies doing podcasts and there’s a few, you know, there’s a lot of TikTok reels kind of thing. There’s a lot of different ways people are consuming news these days. So, I think, yeah, there’s always going to be opportunities there. People are keen to follow their passion, I guess.

Leah Lambart: How do you think the internships helped you earlier on in your career? What did you get out of those?

Jack Paynter: Well, that’s when I decided I wanted to get into the industry and make journalism my profession. I made a conscious effort to get as much experience as possible. And they had a lot of contacts, so they would be able to source internships through their contacts. And then at the end of the day, it’s a foot in the door, isn’t it?

Now it’s a good chance to meet people from the industry and learn how they go about things, build up your experience, your portfolio, which is the key one in journalism. If you’ve got a good portfolio, then that’s always going to help you land a job. And that’s sort of what it did for me. It gave me a lot of experience. I was able to write, get my name, my byline in on articles, which leads to the next job and then the next opportunity. And then from there you can sort of keep working your way through until you find the right one for you.

Leah Lambart: Jack, you mentioned earlier that, you know, there are lots of jobs even though perhaps those traditional journalism jobs of working in print media have perhaps changed over the years. Can you give someone who is interested in studying journalism an idea of the different types of job titles, for example, that might exist for someone with that sort of course behind them?

Jack Paynter: Yeah. Well, all my jobs have been as a reporter. So that’s sort of, you know, reporting whether that’s online, newspapers. There’s, you know, editors, chief of staff, which is coordinating, you know, the journalists. So you’re sourcing the stories of the day, which direction the publication is gonna follow for that day.

There’s also, you know, in terms of different media, you can have a podcast editor or a features editor or, you know, senior writer. You know, there’s it’s kind of all these different titles, which at the end of the day, they’re sort of either management positions, writing positions, video positions. Yeah. It’s it’s kind of like any workplace. It’s just ahead of all that, specific titles attached to them, I guess.

Leah Lambart: What would you say have been some of your career highlights to date? Things that really stood out for you?

Jack Paynter: Probably the main one, and it it’s gonna sound terrible, but, because there’s lots of people affected. But, did a sort of couple of weeks reporting on the bushfires down in Tasmania when I was working in the newspaper down there, which was the summer, I think, January 2019 it was, which, you know, luckily no one died and, you know, there was only, sort of handful of homes lost, but, you know, a lot of people were displaced at the time.

And, you know, the reason why it was such a career highlight, I guess, is because you’re sort of on the on the fire grounds as a reporter sort of trying to get what’s happening back to people who are affected. And your adrenaline’s quite high the whole time because it’s it’s quite a, it’s a sort of, I guess, life-threatening situation. I never felt like my life was in danger, but you’re always sort of on edge as to, you know, what’s happening around you. It heightens your awareness. You get to meet the firefighters who are trying to, you know, protect people’s homes in their own towns because it’s their own community. So you build up a bit of relationship with them. I guess it’s just was spinning out on the, on the ground reporting, you know, 24 hours a day for 7, 8, 9 days in a row. By the end of it was quite tiring, but at the time it was quite a good experience and something that, you know, I’ve always felt, quite proud of the work I was able to do there.

So that’s probably one of the highlights. The other one was, there was a story I did, when I was with Leda and there was a burglary. Someone broke into, a family home, and there was a 17-year-old there at the time. No. Sorry. 17-year-old wasn’t there at the time. There was just a 10-year-old girl at the time, and she hid in a wardrobe and, called police, triple zero, and the police were just around the corner. Then I used to come in and and catch the guy while he was there. But I was able to, through the police, gain the trust of the family and speak to the little girl, and we got the, the audio recording of the triple zero call. So it was quite powerful, to be able to, you know, bring that to the wider world.

And, you know, later sort of published that. It was picked up by, you know, the morning TV shows like Sunrise and then the nightly news, network. So it’s it’s quite rewarding when you see your work sort of carried on like that. And, you know, it was a it was a good uplifting story. She wasn’t hurt. She was able to stay calm and get a good resolution for herself and her family. So those have been some career highlights.

And I think at the moment at Cricket Australia, I think, found a job that, you know, I’m really passionate about. So every day is kind of a highlight when you get to go and go and watch, you know, cricket. I’ve always been, passionate about cricket played. So when you can do something that you really enjoy as a child, it doesn’t feel like work too much. So, I think that’s I’ve found a nice, nice spot, nice job at the moment. So I’m really enjoying that.

Leah Lambart: Pros and cons of any job. What would you say are the perhaps more challenging parts of being a journalist?

Jack Paynter: Yeah, I guess at the I wouldn’t say so much. No. I wouldn’t do it in this job. But, you know, one of the challenging things is is, you know, doing a door knock, particularly when someone has died. So you’ve gotta go around to yeah. It’s just a part of the the news cycle where you try and speak to to the family and find out how they’re feeling, especially if it’s a, it was quite a public incident. So I guess there’s no, there’s no, I wouldn’t say there’s no formula of how to, how to do it. You’ve just, you just learn by, by doing it.

So, I think the first one I did drive into the street, I knew where the house was, but I sort of parked there and I was like waiting for, you know, 5, 10 minutes to build up the courage to go and knock on the door. But I guess at the end of the day, yeah, that’s part of, you know, one of the personality traits you have is resilience. You know, you’re gonna hear no more than you say, yes. So you gotta be able to prepare to take those setbacks, you know, learn from them and build up the courage, to go and try it again. Because you’re only going to get, get better at doing it and more, more, more comfortable at doing it. The more you do it. That that was the same with one of the other challenging parts of when I was working as an editorial assistant at the Herald Sun.

Is that they used to have, people might remember it, they have the vox pop questions at the top. So, like, they have 4 little photos of the at the on the top of the letters to the editor page. And they’re just 4 randoms off the street, and you have to get some some question that the daily topic you can use. You have to walk up to people and approach them on the street. And most of the time, they think you’re trying to sell them something or you’re from a charity or something. So it really teaches you how to approach people and and gain their trust in, like, how to doing at the time. But when I look back on it now, it taught me how to sort of approach people and build up their trust and and speak to them. So, I mean, I guess every everything you do is you learn from it, and you get better at it over time.

Leah Lambart: What other particular skills and attributes do you think are important for, you know, for a young person thinking about a career as a journalist?

Jack Paynter: I think you just got to be interested in other people’s stories and their experiences, because you do a lot of talking to people in the job, a lot of listening, being able to be an active listener. So listen to what they’re saying and then at the same time formulate the next question that you’re going to answer. So, it’s I’m still learning how to do that. You’re always learning how to how to get better at things. So I think that’s that’s probably the main thing is just be be interested in in what you’re doing.

Because you meet you meet a lot of different people from a lot of different walks of life. So, that’s that’s another good good aspect of the job is you know 2 days are the same. Like, you know, you might be at a, when I was reporting with News Corp mainly I was doing sort of crime and breaking news. One day you might be at a car crash and it might be a tragic incident. The next day you might be somewhere where there’s been a positive story and someone’s done something great. So, yeah, I think, you know, it’s it’s certainly one of those careers where you’re never gonna be bored, I don’t think.

Leah Lambart: So Jack, for all the cricket fans out there, you better tell us a little bit more about what you do at Cricket Australia as a journalist.

Jack Paynter: Yes. So my role is I’m a domestic cricket reporter. So I cover the Sheffield Shield and I should say on the men’s domestic cricket reporter because, there’s a lot of female competitions as well. So I cover the Sheffield Shield and the one day cricket and the Big Bash for the men’s competition. So that involves, you know, during the season, going to games and reporting on games, you know, speaking to players after the game, just sort of doing the doing the news of the day. And then, we’re in the offices at the moment. So it’s a lot of, you know, reporting on contracts and, who’s being cut from what list and who’s moving to another state and who’s, just sort of, awarded a contract at a certain state and then, you know, you get to do a lot of feature stories as well, so be able to tell the story behind a certain player.

So at the moment, last week I interviewed a player who made his debut for New South Wales last year and a couple of days before the game, he actually lost his dad to a heart attack. So he still played in the game, and it was, you know, it’s been a couple of months since since that happened. So he felt comfortable talking about it and it’s just about sharing his experience and his resilience, I guess, to be able to get through that, tragic life event, but also, you know, a happy situation where he’s made his debut for New South Wales. So, I guess that goes back to what I was saying before, you know, it’s, it’s quite a, interesting job and no 2 days are the same. You get to hear a lot of people’s, different stories and life experiences. So yeah. And then, as I was mentioning before, Australia is playing in Sri Lanka at the moment. So tonight I’m on shift an editing shift for our website which, starts at 6 pm and finishes at maybe 3 in the morning. So that’s another aspect of the job is there’s some weird hours that you do, but, you know, I enjoy watching watching the cricket and and reporting on it. So it’s not really, a chore, I’d say. It’s more of a, enjoyable, night at work, I guess.

Leah Lambart: And, how nice for you that you can combine work with something that’s also a passion.

Jack Paynter: I often say to my, my partner, you know, I used to watch this cricket for free. I used to do it, you know, just in my my own time watching it. So now you get paid paid to do it with, you know, as you say, you have to combine your passion with work and I think that’s what everyone strives for and I’m lucky enough to be able to do it.

Leah Lambart: So, so from what I’m hearing, there’s lots of flexibility required in terms of being able to work different shifts. What about deadlines? I always hear from journalists that they have deadlines to meet. Is that something that is tough to manage? Or if you’re a pretty organized person, is it pretty easy to meet those deadlines?

Jack Paynter: I guess it’s one of those skills that you sort of develop over your career. With with online now, there’s not so much, time pressure on deadlines unless it’s a breaking story and something’s just happened. Like when I during the pandemic and I was still sort of still in it, but, you know, when we were in lockdowns and those major news happening, to be able to turn that around in 10, 15 minutes. You had to sort of be able to do that. So that would be, you know, writing the lead of the story, which maybe might be 2 or 3, 4 sentences and then you keep adding to it. And that’s the beauty about online.

You can always you know, add to a story so you can get something up nice and quick. Try and try and be the first to get it out there. So that drives a lot of audience engagement. And then from there you just build the story and as you get more information coming in, build the story and it gets longer and longer. And it might take on a different form, a different angle, so you can get 2 cracks at it. So the first, first, element of the story is, you know, this has happened and then down the track it might be, you know, people’s reaction to it.

So, yeah, when when I was working sort of at the at the Herald Sun, there was a bit of pressure on deadlines, especially if they come to you late in the day and they say, oh, we’ve got to do this story. 1st edition goes at 8 pm, it might be 6 o’clock. So you’ve got 2 hours to turn something around. So yeah, it’s certainly a skill that you develop and you get better at the more that you do it. So, yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever missed one. But at the same time you can always push with online. You can always push them out a bit longer if you don’t have a story ready by a certain time.

Leah Lambart: It sounds like you’d work pretty independently as a journalist. Ever sort of as a team or feel like you’re working as part of a team or is it often more working as an independent?

Jack Paynter: It’s a bit of both. I’ve written a lot of stories where there’s been sort of 2 or 3 people working on it. So that’s often quite fun when you sort of able to team up and say, I’ll take this part and you take that part.

Yeah, there’s a lot of independent stuff as well, like sourcing your own stories and pitching your own stories. But I guess at the end of the day, the publication that you work for is not just you that’s publishing that news. It’s a whole team. So you know, to benefit to get the best story, if you have to work with someone else to do it, then, it’s often quite fun. And and you’re just happy to do that to make it the best, best version it can be for the for the publication.

Leah Lambart: So, Jack, you’ve been out of school now for just over 10 years. I’ve been in the industry for quite a while. What advice would you give to a younger person listening today who is thinking about a career in journalism?

Jack Paynter: I’d probably say, go for it. You know, it’s something that you’re passionate about and you’re passionate about writing and telling people’s stories and, you know, delivering information to others, go for it. Cause there’s always, there’s always gonna be opportunities out there.

If you’re willing to, you know, take it on and work hard. Yeah, that would probably be my advice. I guess. Yeah. It’s, it’s like I said before, it’s a, it’s a day when it’s a job where no 2 days are the same. So yeah, you can be doing lots of different things, meet lots of cool people, interesting people and, be able to tell their stories. So that’s why, that’s why I enjoy it. And yeah, if that’s something that you’re looking at pursuing, then I think it’s, yeah, it’s a great, great career.

Leah Lambart: Well thanks Jack. Thanks for coming on the podcast, sharing your story and for your advice. Wish you all the best for the rest of your year at Cricket Australia, and I will look forward to maybe hearing from you again down the track.

Jack Paynter: Absolutely. Yeah. Thanks, Leah. I enjoyed it. And, yeah, if anyone, is interested in journalism, I can always reach out and see what it’s like.

Leah Lambart: Awesome. Thanks Jack. Have a great day.