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Interviewing the Interviewer: Fran Kelly

March 29, 2019

When you speak to ABC journalist, Fran Kelly, the one word that keeps coming up is trust. It’s at the bedrock of who she is, and how she approaches her role as long-time presenter of the ABC’s flagship news program, “Breakfast”.

Every day, Kelly’s professional starting point is her audience, and what they want and need to know from the news. She is on the job of news-gathering for them and is driven most by their need to know, rather than what an interview subject is prepared to tell…. she is in many ways the eyes and ears of thinking Australia.

Talking to her, having listened to her for so long, did not disappoint. Forbidding as it was to interview the master interviewer, I was struck by how seriously she took the questions I put for Unpaused’s audience, with its distinctive perspective. Clearly, she appreciates that more than most.

Fran spoke most powerfully about her experience of news overwhelm,  when the threat of coronavirus suddenly became real. If she was overwhelmed, then it’s not unreasonable that rest of us feel overwhelmed too. But tuning out is not an option. Instead, she sets limits on how often she goes back the news coming in, turning only to trusted voices, limiting her exposure to the hype on twitter and other social media.

Getting the facts from impeccable sources and mastering them, was the best way of overcoming fear and responding responsibly as we all must.

In this episode, Fran moves to some of the positive impacts Covid – 19 is having. She particularly champions the scientists advising us, recasting them, again and at last, as indispensable and esteemed sources of the hard intelligence we need. It begs the question – how did we allow their disparagement to happen in the first place?

It’s more than a week since that interview went live, but it is completely unfaded. You can listen to the full episode here.

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