Book Review: Learning a journalist’s secrets in Leigh Sales’ Storytellers

Seasoned journalist and well-respected ABC anchor Leigh Sales is usually found discussing politics and the latest breaking news; but in her latest book Storytellers she instead turns the discussion inwards, digging deep into the craft of journalism. Interviewing over thirty people from television news programs, websites and print newspapers, in this book she shares tips, tricks and wisdom from some of Australia’s most iconic journalists, offering a peek inside the newsroom.

And it’s not just traditional ‘journalists’ covered here. The book is broken up into ten categories, each based on a different area – from foreign correspondence and investigative reporting to the video editing and producing behind the scenes. With each section talking to three or four experts (including a number of names you may recognise), it gives a broad overview of journalism, the different types of journalists and how the fields overlap or feed into each other, including TV, print, online and radio.

While this broad overview does offer a range of different perspectives and approaches to journalism it is not without its flaws, however. Each interview is short – pithy, but in a way that often leaves you wanting to hear more. The over thirty interviews found in the book could easily feel repetitive, but in each Sales finds a new angle – she’s certainly heeded her own advice on taking interviews in a direction you don’t expect! This helps to keep the book feeling fresh with every new face, but all the same, the shortness of the sections with no extra commentary can at times feel a little thin, and makes for a bit of an abrupt ending.

Those interested in the field of journalism – studying it, in the early stages of a career or considering taking a dive into the subject – will find plenty of useful pieces of advice contained within these pages. It’s hardly as authoritative as a textbook, but each interviewee speaks with honestly about their personal experiences, their struggles and successes, their thoughts and recommendations. The wide range of expertise and life stories aids again here as well. For those who are not interested in becoming a journalist, the book provides a glance behind the curtain and into the minds and processes of renowned names and faces.

The names of those involved in this book speak for themselves – this is a book of interviews from journalists, anchors and reporters at the top of their craft, full of valuable insights and unexpected anecdotes. It may not be quite an all-encompassing lesson, but for those interested in learning to become a better storyteller (through journalism or otherwise), it is well worth taking a look.


Leigh Sales’ Storytellers is available now from Simon & Schuster. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.