Wilson discusses sports, media and life, with the
Editor and Director of Media Man Australia, Greg Tingle
your sports and media background?
trained as a journalist at The Courier Mail in Brisbane
after studying Bachelor of Arts with journalism major
at Qld Uni (didn't finish degree because won the cadetship).
After four years of general reporting, including some
sport, went to Channel Ten Brisbane as Sports Reporter
and became Sporter Presenter there as well. Stayed
five years before covering the Seoul Olympics in 1988
and moving to Sydney's Channel Ten where became Senior
Sports Reporter (mainly rugby league). Left there
in 1992 to have first baby. Tom and then did a series
of part-time jobs at Nine and Seven before joining
ABC TV part-time as Sports Presenter and Producer.
Had second baby, Will returned to the ABC before being
approached to become Media Manager of the Super League.
Did that for four years...became General Manager Olympics
for News Limited and did a pilot for The Fat at the
same time. The Fat was commissioned. Olympics finished
and now Project Manager Rugby World Cup at News Limited.
Also have weekly column in Sunday Telegraph which
and why did you break into journalism?
never wanted to become anything but a journalist -
my father is a journalist and my grandfather was a
newsagent, so I guess we always had newspapers in
our lives. I don't remember a time when newspapers
weren't there. No option but journalism for me, so
applied for cadetship at Courier Mail and was one
of seven applicants who got the job (out of around
are your prime aims and objectives?
think to be happy and to raise happy children have
to be my primary objectives. I think that motivates
everything I do. There is no point earning buckets
of money and having a high profile if you don't have
a capacity for happiness and loving. I am very spiritual
in that I believe you get back what you put into your
life and your relationships. I guess that's why I
get up in the morning - to try to be successful in
all of that. I work just as hard at my private life
as I do in my public life.
has the sports reporting and publishing business changed
over years, and how do you see the relationship between
online and offline media?
reporting has changed like all reporting has - it
is no longer seen as something you have to chase but
something which should find you. To clarify that,
I mean that journalists now are not taught that leaving
the office and talking to contacts are really important.
They are handed press releases or just get on the
phone. I am an old-fashioned news gatherer. I like
being out and about. I believe contacts are everything
and nurturing them is very important. I also believe
in attending live sport. What is the point of covering
a match from the TV? You get so much more from being
out and about.
relationship between on-line and off-lie is one that
I don't thing the media in general has really nailed
yet. We all talk about it, but don't quite know how
it will fit in to our futures or the futures of newspapers
and television. My view is that we will always want
a newspaper to tell us the news if we are mobile,
time poor people (which most of us are) and that we
will always want to watch television for that as well.
On-line gives us so much information without really
interpreting it - I want someone to edit my information
for me, even though that can lead to media bias at
times. Generally, newspapers and TV news perform a
really important service - they explain in a succinct
and insightful way what is important and why. Online
doesn't do that yet because of the bulk of info they
can churn out.
How has the media helped you, and hindered you?
media is my life so I guess it's like everything -
it is a help and a hindrance. Personally, the media
has always saved me when I have thought there were
times when I was down and out. I have always thought
"return to your skill set and you will be fine",
and that has worked for me. From a more general perspective,
I guess the media is the centre point of my existence
- it is my life, it is where I glean my info from
and it is the focal point of modern culture. Of course
it can be a hindrance - it is intrusive and influential
in a way that is not always right.
What are some of the challenges
you have taken on as Australia's hottest sporting
gossip columnist, and how did the Sunday Telegraph
gig come about?
main challenge of a column like this is balancing
the need for information with invading people's privacy.
I made a pact that I would not lose any friends from
writing this column. That just isn't worth it. However,
I am determined to ensure the column is primarily
entertaining and a great read. I am not interested
in it being a literary masterpiece - I want people
to say I read it and I loved it. So far, I think I
have achieved that end. The hardest part is the ground
you have to cover every week - it isn't enough just
to contact the old diehards and hope they can give
me enough to fill over 20 items. It doesn't happen
like that and it shouldn't. I reckon I make over 150
calls to get the column up, and it is a hungry beast.
came about because the guy who did it before, Phil
Rothfield, became the Assistant Editor of The Sunday
Tele. I used to help him out with the column, so the
Sunday Editor, Jeni Cooper, thought it would be a
nice fit. Certainly having a ready-made profile on
The Fat didn't hurt!
did the sport on "The FAT" come about?
Fat came about because a couple of very clever people
- Damian Davis, the Producer and Tony Squires, the
host, wanted to do a sports panel show. Thank God
they thought of me as the girl. Damian and I had worked
together at the ABC on the early 90's. He just wanted
me to be myself - a great brief - and the rest is
do you think Melbourne generally gets more live crowds
is a sports-mad place. It is also culturally very
different from Sydney. Going to the footy or live
sport is a big outing in Melbourne. In Sydney, sport
has to compete with the harbour, outdoor activities
like the beach, the massive distance you have to travel
to get anywhere in horrendous traffic and a general
feeling that staying at home is less of a dogfight
than going to the footy. If you are born and bred
in Melbourne, you used to go the footy and STAND UP
for four hours! Now at least you get a seat - luxury...
the most interesting story you have ever reported
there are so many and you tend to remember the more
recent ones. I think being part of Super League (from
the other side), was the most interesting time of
my career. I thought I was taking on a sports media
role. I was actually taking on a highly political
job which was a
Classic example of sport and politics mixing. Everyday
was interesting. Everything that came up was a challenge.
I have to say I have never learnt so much in one job
as I learnt there from really bright and interesting
people. I think it made me a better journalist and
a better person.
What responsibilities do you
think professional athletes have to the community
and as role models?
have huge responsibilities, like it or not. They are
the classic Australian role models and they really
have to behave accordingly. I am really hard on this
and don't give much leeway because I have two sons
who believe sports men and women are the stars of
the world. They are sad and bewildered when they are
badly behaved. They are highly paid as well, most
of the time. The Wayne Carey affair really proved
to me how important good behaviour is at that level.
When it is on prime time TV, and you are telling your
sons what he did, it gives you a big jolt.
you think there is too much pressure on Australian
athletes in regard to what they do of the field?
We are a sporting nation and rely heavily on our sporting
performances for national pride. Like it or not, and
debate it all you like, that is a fact. We expect
our sportsmen to do their best - and I believe they
mostly do. The pressure can be enormous but that comes
with the territory. That is not to say winning is
everything - I mean is there a better example of a
great athlete than Raelene Boyle who never won a gold
medal. This woman is a national treasure and she was
a perennial silver medallist. It is the way she conducted
herself which we love so much. Adam Gilchrist walking
was another example. I thought that was fantastic
and fair-minded and everything that is great about
Aussie sport (though my Fat colleagues disagree!).
How do you think the credibility
of sport has suffered in the past few years and what
do you think the solution is?
hasn't. Sport is still up there as our number one
past time, badly behaved athletes or not.
other journalists do you respect the most?
love my father (naturally), Bruce Wilson, who is European
correspondent for News Limited. He is a great newspaperman
who can write absolutely anything from rugby to war.
He writes beautifully as well. I also love Jennifer
Byrne because she is a clear thinking TV journo with
a newspaper background. Her writing style is lovely.
And I think I would have to say Col Allan, the current
Editor of the New York Post, who used to be Editor-In-Chief
here. He can be a bastard, but my god he has a great
sense of a good story.
gives you the edge?
think any journo will tell you that hard work gives
you the edge. Being your own hardest marker helps
as well. I am very tough on myself and always trying
hard to be better than I was yesterday. I am a great
you ever received a death threat? (don't answer if
heaps. Goes with the territory. Sometimes they are
really sinister, though. Super League was the worst
for that - threats were constant.
the wisest piece of advise you have ever been given?
are a couple...My beautiful grandfather taught me
to always be the best that I can be - you are the
benchmark and you compete against yourself to become
a better person. My mother taught me the importance
of love and never losing sight of what really matters
which is how you give and receive love...and my 11-year-old
taught me to never, ever give up.
What words of advice would you
give an athlete looking to secure sponsorship?
a boy! Girls have real trouble getting sponsors.
the best and worst example of sportsmanship you have
seen or covered?
for walking was best. The worst? Shane Warne trying
to fib his way out of trouble was one of the worst.
Sam Newman and Eddie McGuire....good
guys, clowns or both?
a clown. Eddie a clown but a clever and likeable one.
are the best and worst characteristics of:
player. Rest is bad and you know what they are!
2. Shane Warne?...great
bowler. Rest is bad and ditto Carey.
3. Anthony Mundine?...great
athlete, likeable in spite of himself but sadly misled
and badly managed.
you think the media has been fair to Dawn Fraser over
of the years? Why or why not?
I think so. Probably more than fair. Dawn is an enigmatic
person who has rarely stayed out of the news for long,
but that was her fault, not the media's. She is a
difficult person to know and to really take a liking
to because she can be so difficult. The media has
never denied her the status she deserves as one of
our living national heroes.
would you like to make public knowledge about Scott
whole story if we haven't already heard it.
What are the greatest success
stories and areas for improvement in the Australian
great success. Room for improvement is understanding
that, even thought the swimming model worked brilliantly,
the ASC continues to deny sport the funding it deserves.
is Australia's best news piece of sporting talent,
hard....maybe Jana Pittman. She just might become
an Olympic champion. Or maybe Liesl Jones - she has
got the mongrel in her and I like that.
do you manage the balance between sports reporting
and having a social life, or do you find there is
a certain cross-over?
entire social life is spent watching sport with the
kids, with The Fat crew or watching sport at the pub.
I am such an exciting socialite!
How much fan mail and "hate"
mail do you get, and do you get to read it all?
of fan mail and share of hate mail but not too bad.
Like either because shows people watching/reading.
What is the biggest complement you have ever received?
the context of work, I think that a majority of men
love me because I am a woman who knows about sport.
I work really hard at knowing it. And women are not
threatened by me. Rather, they are impressed that
I take the time to know my business. Personally, the
best compliment is from my kids who tell me all the
time they love their mum!
role do you see traditional media playing in covering
in sport, and what are they doing right and wrong?
media cover sport brilliantly - on pay and free to
air TV and in newspapers. I mean I couldn't improve
that much really because everyone is always rising
to new challenges and conquering them. The technology
in both newspapers and TV is amazing now.
is the most controversial figure in Australian sport,
Warne...for very well-documented reasons.
How do you draw the line between
what is sport and what is a pastime? Eg darts, golf,
definition of sport is when there are no engines involved.
When you involve machines, you take away the power
of the sportsman to compete on equal footing.
you think women should be barred from any sport?
surfing be included as a sport in the modern Olympic
Games, and why?
Too many flunky sports are in the Olympics now. I
don't even think triathlon should be there because
so few people compete in it. I mean, we are a great
surfing nation, but only about four or five other
nations are as well. I think the Games should look
at cutting sports, not adding them.
is the most prestigious sports journalism award in
Australian sports star of the year.
sports do you enjoying playing or covering the most,
and what bores you to tears?
watching any footy, cricket, racing, tennis, swimming.
Like playing boxing, running, swimming. Hate watching
most golf, motor sport and netball (sorry, loved playing
it and just can't watch it too much).
is your star sign, and are you true to the characteristics?
just...one day away from Sagittarius. Yes, I am determined,
solid, outgoing and a homebody. The Sag side loves
parties and socialising, so tick all of those boxes
What's your view on gambling
in sport? Got any hot tips?
gambling in sport and any official who says they don't
is a mug. Of course people are bet on pro sport. I
reckon Lonhro will win the Doncaster (so do about
a million Aussies!).
What is the funniest sporting
moment you have ever had and / or covered?
is something in the moment that passes quickly. The
Fat is full of funny moments relating to sport and
naturally I can't think of one right now.
are the greatest sports moments of all time?
the America's Cup is NOT one of my great moments.
Damian Oliver winning the Melbourne Cup, Australia
winning Bledisloe last year, Queensland winning any
Origin match, Steve Waugh's century in Sydney, Cathy
Freeman winning gold, Raelene beating cancer.
What other information would
you like our readers to be aware of?
are your future goals?
be happy and to raise two good kids.
more of Rebecca, tune into The Fat on ABC TV http://www.abc.net.au/thefat