The Sunday Times News Editor Anthony DeCeglie
Today we meet The Sunday Times News Editor Anthony DeCeglie. He shares with us his thoughts on a changing media industry, his most interesting interviews and his biggest PR gripe.
Q. Journalism has changed drastically in recent years. How would you describe the profession today?
I think the most important change in modern journalism is that the readers are more informed than ever before. There is so much information out there they can access themselves, which means they expect more from media organisations and can hold us to account more.
Before, readers were forced to get all their facts from a few news sources.
Now, they expect us to take information they already have and add to it or explain it further.
It’s no longer enough to just report the basics, readers expect us to dig further. For my mind, that’s a good thing.
Journalists too have never had more access to information – from data, to documents, to potential witnesses – which should mean our stories have more depth. So to answer the question… I think the profession has never been more dynamic, or alive.
Q. Who's the most interesting person you've interviewed over the course of your career?
Two interviews stand out – both because they were with people who gone through the most tragic of circumstances but had refused to give up.
I did an interview in 2010 with the parents of Grace Moorby – a baby girl who was killed when she was hit in her front yard by a drunk driver. I was speaking to the parents for our Easter edition two years after they lost Grace and they were sharing with the newspaper the fact that they had just welcomed a new baby into the world. It was such a positive end to a horrific story.
More recently I spoke with a woman called Rachael Sprigg-McKinnie. Her fiancé was a WA soldier who was killed in the Afghanistan war. She spoke to me on the eve of what would have been her wedding. She said she was still hurting from his loss – but that she knew she was lucky that she got to spend the time she did with him. Her outlook on life was amazing, and really heart-warming.
Q. Less journalists means less news generation. Are we experiencing the end of local news?
I think if anything it’s the opposite. Social media like Twitter and Facebook mean news is more local than ever before. From someone putting up a pic of a great meal they’ve eaten at a local restaurant to someone tweeting about road closures or a cleverly hidden speed camera.
The difference is where people are going for their local news, and the role mainstream media plays in that environment. Personally, I don’t think we should be afraid of ‘citizen journalists’ covering hyper-local news.
Q. In today's media landscape, do you find PR's more or less important that 5 years ago?
I think they’re more important because the news cycle has become faster paced and the demand for instant information from our readers has become insatiable. So, it’s great to have someone who has facts/figures/photographs at the tip of their fingers. So much of news is image focused too. A great PR person – who has organised agreeable talent to be in right location at the right time – can be the difference between a front page image or a page 34 picture.
Q. What do we do that annoys you?
My only gripe would be what seems to be a growing reluctance from PR organisation to put their people up for live interviews.
So much of what we do these days as journalists is expected to occur over email. It might be safer for the person being interviewed, but the end result is always duller comments and a less interesting read for the public.
Q. You're busier than ever. How can we help (and maximise the chance of getting media coverage for our clients)?
I think the key is being open and honest. If there isn’t a particularly strong angle to the story, then don’t pretend there is. And don’t harass the news desk for coverage if you know it doesn’t merit it. Another tip would be to pinpoint who you’re selling the story to. If you make a decision to go with a media outlet than don’t try to double-dip by getting coverage elsewhere on the sly.
For example, The Sunday Times only runs exclusive stories – there is no point pitching us a story about an announcement that is going to be made on a weekday and reported by rival TV stations, radio stations and newspapers before our Sunday newspaper comes out. Also, be prepared. For example, if you’re pitching a story for Sunday then make the phone call on Tuesday. Don’t leave it until Friday to let us know what’s going on.
Q. If you weren't a journalist, what would you be doing?
I actually studied film at university and fell into journalism in my final year. I’d like to think if I wasn’t a journalist than I would be mixing both loves and making documentaries.
I’m also interested in political affairs, so could see myself entering that field at some stage later in my career.