By MIA FREEDMAN
When I first started Mamamia, five years ago, I imagined a really cool dinner party full of interesting women discussing everything from politics to parenting, peplums and pelvic floors.
And here we are. Half a million Australian women visit Mamamia each month and to maintain the diverse, intelligent, respectful vibe, we always ask readers and commenters to imagine we’re all at a dinner party.
When I think about the women sitting at our dinner table, I’m always filled with pride at how interesting, irreverent and inspiring they are. However, recently I realised that you might not know your fellow guests. Around 1-5% of our readers choose to comment but most prefer to simply sit, read and take it all in. So you wouldn’t necessarily know who else is at the table.
Well that’s about to change. Over the next few weeks we’re going to be running a series of posts that introduce you to some of the better known women who read Mamamia – your fellow guests at the dinner table.
To kick off, a special treat. A journalist, a presenter, an author, a formidable interviewer and currently the host of the iconic current affairs program ABC’s 7:30. You can follow her on Twitter here (and we recommend you do).
MM: Twenty years ago it was unheard of to have a woman reporter or journalist or host on television who was over the age of 40. What do you think has changed?
LS: I think the fact that more and more women kept coming through the ranks and executives realised the clout of the female viewing audience. But there are still many double standards in terms of pay and expectations around appearance.
MM: They say “you cannot be what you cannot see.” Who do you admire? Who did you look to when growing up?
LS: Growing up, I looked up to people in my immediate circle – my parents, my grandmother, my teachers, my friends. I was particularly close to my music teacher, Leanne, who gave me such a wonderful gift – the ability to play an instrument and to consider it a great joy, not a chore. Today, I look up to the same people.
MM: How do you prepare for a major interview of a public figure like the Leader of the Opposition or the Prime Minister?
LS: I firstly decide what issues I think are topical. Then, in conjunction with my excellent producer Justin Stevens, I start gathering research material and studying it. Once I’ve done that, I craft a list of questions. Justin & I then workshop how we think the guest might respond to certain questions and then we map where I will go depending on their responses. But once I walk into the studio, I have to be ready to set all that aside and go where the interviewee takes me. You have to listen to their answers and think on your feet, not go from a list of prepared questions.
MM: What’s the key to a killer interview?
LS: Listening. Good preparation. Realising it’s never about you, it’s always about the guest.
MM: Which interview had your adrenaline pumping fastest at the end?