Courtrooms are where justice can be served for victims of crime and their families. It's also where you’ll likely find reporters, typing or scribbling notes to craft a story before deadline. As a Senior Court Reporter at The Mercury newspaper in Hobart, Amber Wilson is well-acquainted with the court justice system, having covered some of Australia's most high-profile criminal court cases.
The multiple award-winning journalist has more than a decade's experience in the media and, in recent years, has specialised in covering the crime and courts round. In May, she was a joint winner of the Journalist of the Year at the Tasmanian Media Awards, alongside the ABC's Annah Fromberg. She also took home the award for Excellence in Legal Reporting and Best News Story for her expose on sexual abuse in Tasmania's Department of Education.
Amber shares her experience as a woman in the world of crime journalism for the final instalment of Telum's Women in Crime (Reporting) series. The series features the experiences of prominent female crime reporters across Australia.
Tell us about your career in crime reporting so far.
Currently, I'm working at The Mercury newspaper in my hometown of Hobart, where I returned about two years ago. Some of the key cases I've covered here include the murder appeal of Sue Neill-Fraser
, who was convicted of murdering her partner aboard their yacht on Australia Day in 2009. I've also been caught up in investigative journalism over historic child sexual abuse
in Tasmanian schools.
Prior to The Mercury, I spent three years covering Melbourne courts with the Australian Associated Press. There, I covered cases including the Bourke Street massacre
, the trial of Cardinal George Pell
, the Rebel Wilson
defamation saga, the murder of Eurydice Dixon
and several terrorism cases.
What made you choose this area of the media to specialise in?
Covering court feels like being at the coalface - it's where decisions are made and destinies are decided. But it's bigger than that for me. Crime cases uncover the pathology that runs through humanity and reveal the myriad of, usually sad and tragic, reasons an innocent child grows up to be a criminal, or even a perpetrator of seriously awful actions.
What are some highlights of being a Woman in Crime (Reporting)?
I think women have a good understanding of the emotional and psychological neglect that underpins a lot of crime.
What are some challenges of being a Woman in Crime (Reporting)?
Getting heckled at court or the office by defendants and their family members isn't much fun. While I think this happens to both male and female reporters, it often feels like there's an additional sinister element when the threats are directed towards women.
What is the most memorable story you’ve covered in this field?
There was a deeply troubling murder that occurred in the Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows
a few years ago, where a woman was brutally mutilated and murdered in front of her children.
The Bourke Street massacre, and the subsequent court appearances by offender James Gargasoulas, will also stay with me forever.
Any tips for PRs wanting to pitch you stories?
Be as specific as possible please!
Answers submitted by Amber Wilson, Senior Court Reporter at The Mercury.