As a news and weather reporter, Justine Conway is accustomed to making new discoveries. Since having two children, her discoveries grow bigger and her days become increasingly meaningful.
“They have taught me how to love like I have never loved before, I know it sounds so cheesy but…”
Justine Conway is a friendly face most Melbournians are familiar with. Justine has been part of the Channel Nine News team since 2009. She has a four-year-old, Oscar, and a 10 month old baby, Camille.
“I have a very good four-year-old. He is very helpful and compassionate. He makes my job a bit easier.”
Like most parents, Justine is in the full throes of juggling her work, her children, her relationships, her life, and all that brings with it.
“You can’t just go to work and switch off your “mum mode”. I had never felt so torn before, so I did question for the first few months of Oscar’s life, if going back to work was something I wanted. Then I sort of dived back in and it was like ripping off a band aid and once I was back I was happy to be back.”
Justine is a natural in front of the camera, she is warm and articulates herself well. She said that she used to love to read to other children when she was in primary school. She had an eagerness to share.
“I used to like being the first person to tell people any bit of information. I think I always had this love of sharing news and just being the first to share it and try to engage with people.”
“I loved English at school, and news so journalism became my passion.”
It was not a direct path to journalism. Justine loved drama and dance. This led her to complete an arts degree at Uni before realising that journalism really appealed to her in the long run.
Over the years, and now having had time in and out of news reporting while having kids, Justine has had time to take stock and reflect on the journalism profession.
“The industry has really changed in the last decade. In the early days when I started, we would be flown around in choppers to the stories breaking out of town. These days there’s a lot less money so everyone’s tightening their belt.”
“We’re churning out more news than ever before. There’s more programs on the telly throughout the day and we’re providing content for social media and online platforms too.”
Justine has been part of the change and experiences firsthand the increased demand for news. People now have an appetite for around the clock coverage.
The rise in citizen journalism has also changed the media landscape. The problem being that the facts can be compromised. Justine explains:
“With the rise of social media, and the demand for fast information everyone and anyone is taking on the role of news reporter. There’s positives and negatives to that. I think it can be a bit dangerous because facts can become blurred.”
Justine is enjoying getting back into the swing of things after her recent stint of maternity leave. Her baby Camille knows her Mum isn’t too far away.
“When my little girl sees any weather on TV I think she expects me to pop up, she just looks at the TV and then looks at me.”
Justine has now adapted to a new way of presenting news outside of her usual reporting, using twitter and Instagram to share weather updates and insights. Her kids are very interested in what the day ahead holds.
“Oscar is always asking me what the weather’s going to be. I love that kids are so fascinated by nature. They notice the simple things we take for granted. They’re excited to learn about the effects the weather has on our environment.”
Justine feels fortunate to have her parents and her husband’s parents there to look after her children when she’s at work.
“I couldn’t live without them [parents] and I feel like Oscar and Camille learn so much from their grandparents. It’s not just convenient. It’s a beautiful bond.”
“I grew up with my grandfather looking after me while my parents worked and we had such a special relationship so I love watching my kids have that relationship with their grandparents.”
Justine says she has a really wonderful team at Channel Nine.
“Peter Hitchener is, as everyone always says, the loveliest man you’ll ever meet.”
“We’re also lucky to have a fantastic news director. He’s a family man first, so he understands the demands of having a young family and doing this job.”
Justine really thrives in her role, she loves her job and looks forward to getting back to news reporting at least one day a week. The unpredictability of news reporting is a bit tricky right now, as the nature of it means that Justine does not know where she will be, or what time she will finish. She may have to do a live cross for the 6 o’clock news.
“What I love about news is, every day you get to meet someone different, you get to learn something different, you might be travelling somewhere that you have never been before and you never know what’s instore when you get into that news room in the morning. You don’t know what your day will hold and that’s kind of exciting- but also challenging when you’ve got the kids to get home to. I will eventually get back to that reporting and I am looking forward to it.”
Justine said motherhood has taught her patience and the ability to multitask at a higher level than ever before- and all that love. It is bigger than anything she could hold. She knows that when she heads into work, she cannot leave her identity as a mother behind. It is part of who she is.
For all the hard parts, the torn feelings and the challenging moments, there’s nothing that compares to the love Justine has for her children. She takes that with her to work, it enables her to express compassion and empathy in her reporting, and Camille and Oscar know, they can count on their Mum, no matter the weather, she will be there for them.
Article by Sinead Halliday