Hatch reporter Tom Livingstone profiles the industry professionals teaching at Macleay College for our ongoing series – #FlashbackFridays
Macleay College is paving the way for future journalists with innovative, practical and, most importantly, fun teaching methods. The staff are exceptional, giving students the best education and sculpting them into elite professional communicators.
What shapes these amazing people and what journey have they been on to get to where they are today?
This week #FlashbackFridays brings you the story of Leah Creighton, Sydney campus’s go-to lecturer for all things interning. When she isn’t at Macleay, Leah also runs a freelance writing and editing business, Writin’ Creighton. This shorthand savant also teaches News Research and was a pioneer in taking The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph into the digital age, launching their first proper websites. With a career spanning more than 15 years and experience as a beat reporter, freelance travel writer and coder to name a few, is it any wonder Macleay College snatched up this amazing woman?
(Above: Leah travel writing in Mozambique. Image: Supplied)
1) What job did you first start out with in the industry?
Technically, my first job in journalism was with my high school paper, Lower Life. Then a stint as Arts Editor for the University of NSW paper Tharunka.
But in “real” journalism I started as a “copy kid” on The Australian newspaper after getting an internship there during uni. I distinctly remember being bitten by the buzz of the newsroom. It was like finding your tribe after years of searching. And I still feel that to this day.
2) What did you love about those early days?
I loved the energy, urgency and collaboration of the newsroom; the shared excitement over a “cracking yarn”; never being bored and never knowing where you would be that day or night. And the pub. There’s no pub like a journo’s pub.
3) What did you hate about them?
Mid-dawns – the 11pm to 8/9am overnight Friday shift cadets at News Corp had to do. It was brutal. In the days before police scanners were digital, we had a “radio room” where we eavesdropped on all the scanners in the city. It meant you had unfettered access to crime scene details, and it also meant you sometimes beat the police to crime scenes. We saw a few things we shouldn’t have in those green days. The images are still vivid in my mind.
4) What is a career highlight you have (or are there a few)?
It’s not the celebrity interviews you remember; it’s the privilege of telling real people’s stories. Highlights include:
– Witnessing bravery up-close: 9/11 and Bali bombing survivors and refugees I met had unbelievable courage and testimonies, as did victims of abuse in the military who were brave enough to talk to me.
– Witnessing arseholery up-close: Meeting a pre-PM Tony Abbott every week for four months and him newly introducing himself to me EVERY SINGLE time.
– The Telegraphs were campaigning papers at their height, and we frequently got laws changed.
– An environmentalist: I’m proud of my investigations into the illegal marine trade, culminating in getting federal law changed to protect endangered marine species, such as seahorses.
– Travel writing, in particular Southern Africa and Malaysia were some of the best experiences of my life.
– Not technically a “highlight” but certainly a “stand-out” was interviewing convicted serial killer Ivan Milat’s brother alone, in semi-bushland, while he was concreting over an abandoned cricket pitch. I don’t reckon Bungee jumping has anything on the adrenaline I felt as he angrily twitched his way through the questions, shovel in hand.
5) What do you enjoy about teaching at Macleay?
I love the boutique size of the campus, meaning you get to know every student personally. And I am in awe of my colleagues’ skills and achievements.
6) Something quirky, most people don’t know about you.
In another life I was a sportswoman who represented NSW in gymnastics. I was nearly quite serious… but then there was the nasty disagreement between the vault and my ribs. Twice. Journalism seemed a good back-up plan!
7) What would you be doing if you weren’t a journalism superstar?
I’d be a penniless novelist and street artist. But Tim Winton, Lister and Banksy would be constantly over at mine.
8) A quote or belief that personally motivates you each day.
My favourite newsroom quote on crappy journalism: “You can’t polish a turd.”