Having a real impact on people’s lives is a highlight: the highs of being a political reporter
“Politics is not complicated and politics certainly is not serious – it has serious impacts on life, but it’s just theatre more often than not.”
Amy Remeikis, a political reporter and live blogger for The Guardian since 2017, says covering politics – at local, state or federal – can be deeply rewarding.
How did you get into politics?
I probably took the long way around, and that was deliberate. I did television and radio straight out of university. I was terrible at television and I couldn’t really find my place [until] I started working for the local paper.
Then I decided I wanted to be a political reporter, but I needed to make my mistakes with a quieter audience. So, I was a police and courts reporter for years before going into state politics and then federal.
Do you prefer state or federal politics?
I love both. I love state for the day-to-day job and news reporting, because it’s a lot more intimate. It matters a more to people’s lives because it impacts them personally a lot more. State politics is schools, roads, hospitals, it’s things that everyday people deal with. But federal is interesting because you get to see a lot more of how the sausage is made.
What have been your biggest challenges?
Being a journalist in general is difficult because you’re prying into people’s lives, and that’s not something that comes naturally to me. More recently, it’s probably been a challenge for me to cover some of the issues that have popped up in the Federal Parliament around sexual assault … as I’m a sexual assault survivor.
It can be quite difficult to separate your own personal feelings and your past traumas from what you’re covering. When it’s something that impacted you personally, you feel a responsibility to make sure these stories are heard. This can lead to some wonderful changes, but it also takes quite a physical, emotional and mental impact on you.
What are your career highlights?
You get to do some really rewarding work, and I guess that’s what keeps us all in this game because it’s not the money or the hours or the lifestyle. Even when I was a regional reporter, just following through on investigations, means that road surfaces that were causing accidents have been changed. Being able to have a real impact on people’s lives is a highlight.
Amy Remeikis appearing on ABC program, The Drum.
Do you have any tips on how to survive the stresses of the job?
Mute early, mute often on social media and disconnect when you can. Switching off is really important, sitting in the sun is important, which sounds stupid but you will not believe the amount of time you spent indoors in this job.
What tips would you give to young reporters trying to break into the industry?
It’s the same as it’s always been, which is: read and watch as much as you can while you’re at university, and write and produce as much as you can. Get in contact with newsrooms that you’re interested in for work experience and see what their programs are.