Three Minute Squiz With… Stephanie Peatling

How’s this for credentials: Stephanie Peatling was one of our original Squizers. She was on the list for our first ever email send. And it’s not like she needs more news in her life – she’s Deputy Federal Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in the Canberra Press Gallery. But like anyone with a great big job, she’s a lot more than her Squiz/employment status… Please welcome Stephanie to this week’s Three Minute Squiz. 

How and where do you Squiz?
Very early in the morning – I bet I’m one of the first people to open it. I read it while I’m getting my coffee in between the gym and work. I start work at 7am so I’m up with the birds. I also like to do a scan of how many of our stories have been referenced – it’s the competitive reporter in me!

Canberra’s home for you, and has been for a long time. What’s the best thing about our capital?
It’s not too big and not too small; it has four proper seasons; it’s close to the beach and the snow; and it has an amazing food scene. I was never going to restrict myself to one thing.

Does the tone of the town change when there’s a change of government?
I think so – although that’s changing as the city grows in size and the public service is less dominant as an employer. There was obviously a flattening when job cuts were made to the public service a few years ago.

We have to ask. This election – has it been different to others you’ve wrangled?
Yes. While it’s mercifully not eight weeks long like last time, the ever-increasing speed at which politics/news moves means we’re covering this campaign in a different way to years gone by. It also sticks out because the government has had so few big policies to talk about out while the opposition is going for a big target strategy.

What are you going to be doing on election night?
Working – of course! It’s the Christmas of the political year. I know that sounds sad but I do get very excited. The news! The deadlines! The adrenalin!

What’s the most memorable event from your time in the big house?
Watching then US president Barack Obama address Parliament in 2011. Someone with such charisma and eloquence is very rare. The moments of national unity also stay with me – the passage of the same-sex marriage legislation and the national apologies to the victims of the stolen generation, and to the survivors of forced adoptions and institutional child sexual abuse. These moments bring us together as a society.

Along with balancing a full-on job, you’re a mum. What’s your top tip to parents trying to balance it all?
I’m extremely fortunate to be married to a man who is genuinely committed to us splitting our work and parenting responsibilities 50/50. More practically speaking – why make one meal when it takes about the same time to make three? I feel slightly anxious if there’s not at least 1 kg of spaghetti bolognese in our freezer at all times.

We share a love for all things Laura Ashley. Are you a fashion or homewares fan?
Both! I still have the Laura Ashley dress I wore to my year 10 formal and a particularly prized Laura Ashley mug that I got when I was in high school. The handle is broken but I can’t bear to throw it out.

Name four people – living or dead – you’d kill to sit down to dinner with.
Princess Diana (it remains my ambition to write the definitive biography – you are welcome to look through my NINE SCRAPBOOKS); Michelle Obama (I once had a dream where she offered me a job and all we did was go to the White House gym and discuss policy – it was amazing); David Attenborough (all members of our household adore him – he replied to our children’s Christmas card last year and it is a treasured possession); and the playwright Nakkiah Lui (that final episode of Get Krack!n was the funniest, most thought-provoking thing I’ve ever seen on Australian TV).

Your favourite book/writer?
If I can only have one I would say Stella Gibbons. She was an English reporter in the 1920s and 1930s who also wrote a string of novels that are kind of Jane Austen-ish social observation stories and satires. The most famous is Cold Comfort Farm* which I love so much we named our daughter after the lead character.

The best piece of advice your mother gave you?
It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience. Deadlines do not reward it.

What’s your worst and best habit?
I have a terrible potty mouth – the result of working in newsrooms my entire adult life – but I’ve got a good sense of humour and I can multi-task like nobody’s business.

What would you say is currently the most overlooked news story Australians should know about but don’t?
The push for constitutional recognition of Indigenous people. The groundswell of support for same-sex marriage was such a wonderful thing to witness and it’s so sad that the same widespread goodwill for making this change doesn’t seem to exist.

*If you buy this book using this link, The Squiz will get a little commission.

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