Nine's Fiona Dear, from work experience kid to news director

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 7 June 2024
Fiona Dear.

Fiona Dear never imagined that when she started her career with work experience at WIN Wollongong that she would one day be director of news and current affairs for Nine.

"I very much remember my journalism university lecturer telling me on day one, that maybe a third of us would get jobs in the industry," she told AdNews.

"I did it the old fashioned way of going through regional television, which I think is a terrific experience. If you had told that 21 or 22 year old that she would end up sitting in this chair, I would have laughed at you."

As such, Dear said that she wants that current crop of work experience kids coming into newsrooms to dream big.

"If we don't give work experience kids that vision and that experience, then we're denying them all sorts of opportunities. One of the things that I love doing is trying to inspire young journalists and my role is now to give back," she said.

Dear said her first priority in the role is supporting the news and current affairs team.

"It's no surprise we've been going through a difficult time. I want to provide support to anyone who needs it, I want to unite the team, I want to strengthen the team and I want to build trust," she told AdNews.

"I've been around at Nine for almost 20 years so I know a lot of people in the news and current affairs team, but it is a huge team and there are many I don't know. I don't come into this expecting that they are just going to trust me, but I want them to get to know me and to build relationships with all the teams."

Looking at the market currently, Dear said that it is tough in terms of both metro and regional TV performance at the moment.

The latest SMI figures have ad spend on TV down 10.4% and back in May, reports emerged of Nine planning redundancies in its broadcast business.

"It's tough financial times and I think every Australian knows that. Media is not immune to the pressures that many industries are facing," she said.

One of those challenges that Dear has to confront is an aging audience of those tuning into linear TV, especially where the news is concerned.

Her solution? Respecting younger viewers.

"They may not be the viewers who are switching on the television at 6pm at night; we have to respect that lifestyle patterns have changed," she said.

"The challenge for Nine and for all media companies is to provide them with the same experience on whatever platform they are going to. It's not about us trying to drag them to linear television, it's about us respecting them and providing the content on whatever platform they're on."

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