Telum Talks To: Stephanie Convery, Inequality Reporter at Guardian Australia
Interview

Telum Talks To: Stephanie Convery, Inequality Reporter at Guardian Australia

What does your role as an Inequality Reporter entail? What does a typical day look like?
There’s no typical day on this beat. One day I’ll be writing a story about the decades-long campaign to make public transport in Victoria fully accessible, and on another, I’ll be deep into research for a longread on the business of superyachts. After that, I might be talking to a Noongar / Yamatji woman about her interactions with the public housing system. The thing that unites the disparate issues and narratives on the inequality beat is the lens through which we look at the story.

How do you and your team decide which issues to cover?
We look at the pressing issues of the moment and ask: who is the most vulnerable person in this situation? Are they being treated fairly? And do the systems we have set up to support them (if we have them) work?

When I first started this role, my colleague in the inequality team, Luke Henriques-Gomes, and I agreed that we would orient our coverage towards elevating the voices of the people who were most vulnerable: people on low incomes or income support, those who are homeless or in insecure housing, and people with disabilities. We’d try to ensure the stories we focused on were representative of broader issues too, not least so that this person we were asking to tell their story would be contributing to highlighting inequities that others were experiencing as well.

What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
It takes a lot of courage to share a story with a complete stranger, let alone talk to them about the worst things that have ever happened to you, and then trust that stranger to tell your story to the public respectfully and well. The most rewarding thing for me is when the person who has told me their story gets in touch after the story has been published and says that I’ve represented them fairly and done their story justice. 

What are the most memorable stories you have covered to date? 
Getting to know and write about the residents of the Port Melbourne public housing estate, Barak Beacon, back in August last year, was a real privilege. Learning about the different ways that proptech start-up Snug used (and wanted to use) renters’ data was eye-opening.

The story closest to my heart, however, is not strictly an inequality story, though it has inequality aspects to it: I will never forget spending two days with the late AFLW player Jacinda Barclay’s family in Perth to write a feature about her life and legacy, and break the news about her donation to and the findings of the Australian Sports Brain Bank

How do you like to work with PRs?
Often, PRs will bring an issue or a spokesperson with particular expertise to my attention for the first time, or remind me of someone who might be available to help with a story, and that can be really valuable. I also appreciate just being able to call someone who can tell me, on background, how a law or program or a system works. It really depends on the story, though for more complex stories it may require a lot of back and forth by phone and email. 

I don’t like getting cold pitches by phone unless I already have a really strong relationship with someone and work with them regularly. I use email to triage my workload, so please email first!

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Stephanie Convery

Inequality Reporter

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Guardian Australia

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