Q&A: Lisa Wilkinson, Today presenter, Huffington Post editor-at-large

Lisa Wilkinson.Where did you grow up and what was your first job?

I was born in Wollongong, where my grandparents lived and worked, and I spent just about every one of my school holidays there, but I grew up in Campbelltown in Sydney’s west. My first job was in year 9, working Thursday nights and Saturday mornings at Wrench’s Shoe Store in Campbelltown. But my first full-time job after leaving school and then spending a year at business college was at Dolly magazine, where I was the receptionist who was ‘‘prepared to do anything’’. I was .. and I did!

Being bullied at school led you to throw away your dream of becoming a professional ballerina. What prompted you to speak out?

Time has given me confidence. Experience has given me a voice.

Did the bullying affect your career choice?

No, but I made a decision on the day I sat my very last exam in year 12 as I walked out the school gates, that I would never again let another person determine who I was, or what I was capable of.

At 21 you were the youngest editor of Dolly, a touchstone for so many female teens. How did you feel when it merged with Cleo, another magazine you edited, as a cost-cutting measure?

I absolutely loved working on both of those magazines. My relationship with the readers was so incredibly strong … but they are very different markets, and I can only imagine that it is a difficult juggling act for the editor.

You’ve been in television for close to 20 years. Whatkeeps you there?

Hard work, a good moisturiser, and a strong feeling of immense gratitude that stops me from ever taking the privilege of the job for granted.

Were you surprised that your scathing review of Fifty Shades of Grey as “domestic violence dressed up as erotica” made worldwide headlines?

One of the good things about social media is, if you hit a nerve, you get a response. And clearly I wasn’t the only one who was appalled by the subliminal (and not-so-subliminal) messages in that movie.

Much is made of the ratings war between Today and Sunrise. Do you feel pressure to perform?

We feel pressure to put out the best, most informative, most entertaining show we can each morning. Everything else is out of our control.

You are the new n editor-at-large of The Huffington Post. What is your focus in that role?

To help shine a light on what is a brilliant news site that is a world-wide phenomenon. Over 200million people visit the site each month .. and now we have a strong n focus. I’m writing for them as well, which is great to get back to my love of publishing and the written word.

What issues concern you the most in the news and political landscape in ?

The appalling level of domestic violence in this country. There is something broken in the system right now, and I’m doing everything I can to lobby those in power to fix it.

Do you think business can play a bigger role in some way to address these sorts of problems?

Corporate dollars would be of enormous help.

You have three children with your husband, former Wallaby and writer Peter FitzSimons. How do youcope with such a gruelling schedule?

By realising I’m human, I’m not perfect, but I am blessed. And I’m great at cutting corners when things don’t really matter. (What ironing?)

What’s your advice to those considering a journalism career?

Work hard, listen, stay enthusiastic, be interested, read lots, look for challenges, ask questions, and always be grateful for whatever comes your way.

Lisa Wilkinson is the keynote speaker at the Newcastle Business Club monthly luncheon on November 10. See newcastlebusinessclub杭州龙凤论坛m.au

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