The indomitable Lisa Wilkinson delivered a powerful keynote address at yesterday’s Changing The Ratio conference that had plenty of nods to the past (most notably a few subtle digs at her former employers at Nine) and a rallying call for the future.
Wilkinson, of course, became front page news after she sensationally quit the Today show and jumped ship to the rival Ten Network last October, a move that was arguably more notable for shining a light on gender pay discrepancies in the media business.
The 58-year-old Wilkinson telling Changing the Ratio attendees of her move to Ten: “I wanted change, I wanted to keep growing, to keep learning, to keep challenging myself, even at my age.
“And whilst the circumstances of my leaving did generate a headline or two, I was so pleased that it also generated such a huge conversation about issues that truly matter in the workplace in this country… issues that are almost exclusively placed in old school thinking… and I’m never at my best around old school thinking,” she said.
With almost 40 years of media under her belt, dating back to when she rose from office “girl Friday” to the Dolly editor’s chair at the tender age of 21, Wilkinson regaled how social media had helped her form her own personal brand and amass an impressive half-a-million followers along the way.
And it was those followers that she used to great effect when the news of her move to Ten broke.
“Where once I would have waited for the mighty Nine Network to announce my resignation through their huge and powerful reach, I now realised I had my own instantly available social media network to reach out to that night,” Wilkinson said.
“I took ownership of what had happened and half-a-million of my followers on social media were the very first to find out that I was leaving. Something that clearly annoyed the bejeezers out of Channel Nine.”
Wilkinson spoke of the need for authenticity and not just for those in the media and journalism game.
Too much of what we read online has become a “cesspit of toxic, unmoderated, factually incorrect, libellous bile” Wilkinson declared and that, she added, was the opportunity for “real journalism, trusted journalism, factual, insightful, researched journalism.”
It was the media brands that are willing to change and embrace the new that would survive, while Wilkinson singled out her beloved magazine business’ “lack of foresight” and “dumb management” for the parlous state it now finds itself in.
And, she warned, things can change very quickly. “Just ask Mark Zuckerberg,” she said. “Just a year ago, could we have imagined the trouble that Facebook would now be in?
“But having controlled millions around the world can breed arrogance in its CEO and Zuckerberg thought he knew it all. He thought he could go outside the rules, or at least bend them a lot.
“But he has broken that trust and once more it will be very hard for him to win it back.
“That said, I truly believe it has never been a more exciting time to be in business or, in my case, in media.
“And anybody who doesn’t celebrate all that is going to be left behind,” she concluded.