Caitlin Wadley is a 13-year-old aspiring news reporter who recently got a taste of her dream job on national television. The exciting and unique experience has enhanced her passion for news reporting, and she is really happy that she found the courage within herself to give it a go.
How Caitlin won a chance to be on national TV
In Year 7 at St Stephen’s Catholic College, Mareeba, Caitlin won a competition run by The Today Show Channel 9 to find a junior reporter. To enter the competition, Caitlin submitted a video of herself reporting on an issue of importance to her. She chose the challenges facing small businesses in today’s world of internet shopping and big chain stores.
A film crew came to Atherton to film her full story and this was what she had to say about her TV news debut:
What she had to say about the experience
What draws you to be a TV news reporter?
“To be a journalist of any sort you have to immerse yourself in a topic and become passionate about it even if the topic isn’t something you know much about or have any strong feelings about, and that is something that really intrigues me. Also, public speaking is something I enjoy and getting to do it on a daily basis would be a dream come true.”
Who inspired/encouraged you to enter the competition?
“Lisa Wilkinson, one of the previous anchors of the Today Show inspired me to enter. I noticed that she is confident but also a powerful influence for women and girls. Also, when I entered, I chose a topic that is important to me and my family and thought it could be a unique way to get the word out about shopping locally and supporting small businesses.”
What sort of experience/preparation helped you get involved?
“I haven’t had a great deal of experience, but I was school Captain in year 7 and did a bit of public speaking. Last year I entered the UN Youth Speaks competition which I came runner up for. There was an impromptu question time which was a great experience and something I would say helped me gain more confidence when talking on the fly. I also dance and have done a lot of Eisteddfods where I am on stage alone or in a team – that is certainly something that helps to build your confidence. Performing for an audience and adjudicator can be terrifying but it has taught me how to calm my nerves.”
What do you think was it that made your entry a winner?
“I think the thing that made my entry a winner was the fact that I could personally relate to the topic and I was passionate about it.”
How did you feel about the experience of being a reporter on TV?
“I was very excited to be going on national television and doing something I love! However, I was also really nervous that I would stuff up on national television.”
What was it like being in front of the camera? How did you stay calm and composed?
“There was a big camera and a light stand and noise boom, which was a little intimidating but then Lauren, the producer, helped me feel comfortable and reassured me that I was doing a good job. When I interviewed the Mayor, I was a little nervous, but I felt really privileged to be able to have that opportunity.”
What was the highlight of the experience for you?
“The highlight was when we filmed a section using a drone. I was about 50m away from the crew and had to speak into the microphone while the drone flew up to me, above me, and then over the town of Atherton. It was exciting to see how the use of technology is changing the way reporters do their job. I also enjoyed going to the studios in Cairns to record the voice overs for the segment. It was amazing to see how they put together all the many parts of the story to create a seamless story for the viewers.”
What did your friends and family think?
“My parents were really excited for me but then nervous about appearing on national TV. My friends thought it was really cool.”
What did you gain most from the experience that is likely to help you on your career journey?
“I learnt so much that day – but especially how much is required of the reporter. You have to be able to think on your feet, be able to see the big picture of the story, and in the initial stages of putting it together, you need to be able to think about how it will come together at the end. I also got to spend the day at the Today Show studio in Sydney where I saw the entire process of the show. I met all the crew and learnt the different aspects of putting the show together.”
What do you say to other young people who might be faced with opportunities to pursue something as big as this?
“I would say that if you come across an opportunity to do something you really love or are passionate about, you should not hesitate to jump in. Don’t let others tell you that you can’t do it. You may get told a lot at school to just give it a go or just try (I know I do), but that can be hard when you are self-conscious or afraid. Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone if you really want something. Do not be afraid that you will embarrass yourself or fail. You never know what you can achieve if you just give it a go and put yourself out there.”
Caitlin’s national TV reporting debut
Here is the announcement of Caitlin’s win on Twitter (fast forward to about 51 seconds).
Here is a link to Caitlin’s on-screen national debut with Channel 9’s TODAY Show, reporting on the importance of buying local.