Telum Talks To: Clair Weaver, Investigations Editor at LiSTNR

Telum Talks To: Clair Weaver, Investigations Editor at LiSTNR

What does a day in the life of an Investigations Editor look like?
I get across early news from a range of sources, but typically radio, podcast, online, and TV. I get the kids ready for school and head into the office. There may be a pitch meeting for one of the podcasts, in which we talk through ideas for the week ahead or a catch-up with other teams in Sydney and interstate. I then workshop episode titles for the daily podcasts. Some days, I record a deep dive on an issue with one of our daily news podcasts.

I often check in with my team, who are working on various long-form projects, and offer help with ideas and tracking people down. During the day, I pop out to pick up coffee, lunch or to meet people. I research and work on scripts for podcasts, set up interviews, talk to contacts and brainstorm with colleagues from other teams, attend meetings, trawl through data or put in freedom of information requests. I usually leave the office between 5pm and 6pm and listen to podcasts on the train home.
How broad is your remit? What are the main beats you cover?
It’s broad: our team contributes to the new daily local news podcast This Arvo in Sydney, which explores issues affecting Sydneysiders and covers news headlines (hot tip: we’ll soon be launching more This Arvo podcasts in other metropolitan areas), and the daily news podcast The Briefing, which has a national and international focus with extended headlines and a daily deep dive topic. We’re multi-platform, so we create news beyond audio, with This Arvo doing particularly well on TikTok.

We also have several long-form documentary podcasts in development. We cover a range of beats from politics, crime and health to social justice, national security, and environment. Issues our team has tackled for the daily podcasts include: the impact of AI in road camera enforcement, discrimination against same-sex couples in adoption, an exposé of a rental rort that led to a law change in South Australia, politicians’ gifts and freebies, the dirty truth about pokies, and uncovering first evidence of PFAS “forever chemicals” in popular Australian cosmetics.
What is the most memorable story you have covered to date?
This is a hard question! Can I cheat and give you my top five?
  • Because of the amount of attention it got, interviewing wellness fraudster Belle Gibson, who claimed to have been curing herself of brain cancer with whole foods.
  • For public interest, proving serious PFAS contamination of beef cattle and a farming family from the Richmond RAAF Base.
  • Exposing Pete Evans and getting his DIY bone broth baby formula cookbook banned.
  • Because it made people laugh, a freedom of information story that revealed a Transport Minister lied about the name Ferry McFerryface winning a public vote as the chosen name for a new vessel (he had to change it).
  • And for enjoyment, covering Wimbledon as a tennis-loving newspaper reporter in 2004 - can’t beat that for access to centre court!
What advice would you give young professionals starting in investigative journalism?
Go down rabbit holes. Get obsessed with your story. Double-check and triple-check. Think outside the box. Stand your ground but keep an open mind. Pay attention to detail. Talk to lots of people and be a good listener. Keep asking yourself why your story matters to your audience.

What are your top tips for communications professionals wanting to work with LiSTNR?
Find the right person for your pitch. Refine your pitch to suit the podcast and / or platform. Initiate relationships and find out the best time and way to communicate. 

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