Behind The Late Night News Desk With Hermione Kitson

The lovely Hermione Kitson might have caught your attention for her news reporting prowess on Ten’s Late Night News, a career peak after getting her start with a cadetship at a little country radio station in Lismore. Girl’s worked her butt off to be in the enviable position of having a job she loves, really loves (“Sometimes when I’m talking about it I think: okay I need to calm down“). We caught up with Ms Kitson to talk about her career-defining experience covering the Victorian bush fires, the collaborative process behind the scenes of her gig and her advice for anyone hoping to join the industry. If you are or know of a similarly impressive single women, nominate them or enter yourself in the 2013 Pedestrian.TV Bachelorette of the year brought to you by the really, really ridiculously looking MINI Ray.
PEDESTRIAN: It will be the first birthday of Ten’s Late Night News tonight. What are perhaps your favourite moments from the program to date?  
think some of the breaking news moments where a story is constantly
moving while we’re on air makes for a really exciting 25 minutes.
The Olympics, the election and the Queensland floods are some to name. I feel really lucky that every night we’re on the air we
genuinely have a good time because Hamish and Brad have become some of
my closest friends. To have a good time as
well as getting the job done every night… we’re
lucky to be able to work that way.
Totally. And it’s such a dynamic format.  
I guess
that’s what makes it exciting. Every single day is different and that’s
what we all thrive on. Because it is so dynamic we can do news
differently and we can present it in a different way. We try to
play with how we use our graphics and what we can do visually in how we approach the different issues we cover for the day so it won’t just be whatever the news agenda at 5 o’clock
is running – we try to do something different. If there’s a piece of [world news]
that’s happening in our time slot we try and go down different avenues
than the mainstream sometimes.
You studied Media and Communications at university, a degree that doesn’t necessarily guarantee one particular typeof job at the end of it. How did you imagine your career might turn out when you embarked on your degree? 
Well, you’re kind of impressionable when you finish school and I wanted to get into something to do with writing and journalism, specifically TV. I did Media and Communications at Sydney University and that course kind of gives you an overview of the industry within lots of different subjects – so advertising and journalism and what not.

When I did the news subjects I knew that that was the path I wanted to go down, but it’s not a linear pathway by any means. You have lots of different deviations on the way, so when I finished I daresay I knew what I wanted to do but it’s so hard to get there. I started in radio. I did a radio cadetship in Lismore at a little country radio station and started by pulling in regular news up there. It’s such good experience when you go to regional areas because you’re having to generate news and your own contacts and tell stories really quickly- it’s not just handed to you as in big metro stations.

That’s where I started, so I guess at that point I thought “okay, well we’ll just see how things go” so after that I got a job in radio in Sydney, then I went to WIN TV in Wollongong and then to Ten in Melbourne, and I was there for almost four years before coming to Ten Late in Sydney last year.

How would describe that transition from radio into TV, was that daunting? Could you offer any advice on getting into TV?  
It is daunting to begin with, you’re just telling a story in a completely different way. With radio it’s up to you to describe whats happening, and it’s also very immediate, like, you’re on the phone reporting as it’s all happening. With TV you’re doing that as well but you’re relying so much on the pictures to tell a story. It’s also a lot more collaborative, whereas I would say radio is a lot more autonomous; it’s just yourself kind of churning a story out quite quickly, just you and your recording device and your car and that’s it. But with TV it’s a lot more of a combined effort – you’ve got your cameramen there who you work with for different ideas and angles, lots of other people behind the scenes, and producers so it’s a lot of work that goes into a television news package and it’s just getting that story out in a completely different way.

I found radio to be a really good grounding, and really good training and experience in being concise. Getting something condensed down to thirty seconds for a news report every hour is good training for TV for sure.

In terms of graduates, I guess they’re quite often disgruntled by job prospects off the back of a media or journalism degree. What are your thoughts on this? 
I think it really is a difficult environment and as you said earlier. It’s ever-shifting and you have to be multi-skilled, in terms of not just saying “Okay, I’m just doing radio” or “I’m just doing TV” or “I’m just doing online.” We’re across multi-platforms so when I write up for late news, I’m thinking about how I can best put it out on Twitter and elsewhere.

My advice to graduates would be to think about being skilled across lots of different areas and being open to trying new things and going down different avenues because in the end it will lead you to where you want to get to, there might just be little deviations on the way [laughs].

The industry is becoming bigger and bigger in a sense but smaller and smaller in another way, I suppose because of the light-attention nature of it. People are consuming news in so many different ways now. There aren’t traditional consuming habits like there used to be, with sitting down and watching the  6 o’clock news every night. People are constantly on their phones and on their iPads and consuming so differently, so I think that they have to be malleable to fit in with all the differently technologies and understand that people are digesting their news differently.   

Can you tell us about career highlights to date? Any particular stand out achievements? 
Being out on the road in Melbourne reporting and covering the bush fires was a defining moment for me. I’d only been [at Ten] for a little while and being close to something so huge, such devastating destruction, really kind of matured me as an on the road reporter. And of course the program I’m working on now, The Late Night News.

I feel really fortunate to work on that every single day; we all share a genuine love of news and to get the story across, being a conduit to news. I feel really lucky that the cohorts I work with are people that I genuinely learn from so much every day. They’re mentors, friends and colleagues; it’s a really good team that we have. It’s a small team but a really productive team, we really work so closely together. 

Totally. I mean this is your thing, it’s only your first birthday so you’ve all been total owners of it from the beginning so it’s definitely really bloody exciting.
Yeah! I’m in charge of doing all the live news bits for the program so I’ll source the news and write all the stories and cut all the vision so it’s very hands on, which is good. I wouldn’t just want to be presenting and not being a part of everything we write so it’s really rewarding. At the end of the night you feel like you’ve really put in 110%.
You know why that’s the best? I don’t know about you but I sort of feel like people scarcely really love their jobs that much, which kind of sucks.
[laughs] I know. Sometimes when I’m talking about it I think “OK I need to calm down, not everyone’s as excited about their work as I am.” I have to pare it back and think, “it’s not necessarily interesting for everyone else, just me.”
Away from work, what would you say your top three leisure / down-time activities are?
I love to go for long runs.
Reading. I love to dance. 
What kind of dancing? Like, classes or in the club? 
I like to go down and do a class, like whatever class it may be. Like funk, or hip hop or a jazz class. Or literally just dancing around in my lounge room. That’s probably what I most enjoy because I used to dance at school but I haven’t for years. I like choreography but I like freestyle best. 
How about a couple of your favourite books?  
I just reread Gatsby before the film came out. I love Helen Garner, I just read The Spare Room which was quite affecting. I love Tim Winton as well.
We’ll take this opportunity to again to spruik the 2013 Pedestrian.TV Bachelorette of the year brought to you by the really, really ridiculously looking MINI Ray where you can self-nominate or dob in your masterfully crafty gurlfriends. Go on then.