As you walk into Megan Lloyd’s glass-walled office, you know you are in the presence of someone who has made it.
A room with a view, one wall is covered with the front page of past Sunday Mails while every desk surface is hidden under three inches of paper.
Megan Lloyd herself, the Sunday Mail Editor for almost three years, is another almost permanent fixture in the room – when she’s not in a meeting of course.
“A newspaper editor has to be a marketer, an advertising representative, a circulation manager, have to understand print side of the business. In a way I’m a retailer too,” she said.
And while Lloyd said she misses her work as a reporter, she said her appointment to editor for the largest selling paper in South Australia was an honour.
“It’s an enormous privilege,” she said and explained readers placed a huge amount of trust in all those who work in the media.
“We are a guest in people’s homes.”
South Australia’s Sunday Mail enjoyed a loyal readership of 593,000 but Lloyd said there was still a distinction between telling their readers how to think and what to think about.
“Newspapers can campaign and they can set agendas… As long as they are clear with their readers.”
Lloyd, who studied a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism at the South Australian College of Advanced Education, now known as UniSA, said journalism was based on trust, with the cardinal sin in journalism being getting something wrong.
“The first time you spell someone’s names wrong and it gets in the paper wrong you’ll never do it again because it’s the worst feeling in the world,” she said.
But novice journalists had to remember they would always make mistakes, she added.
“By all means be enthusiastic and push yourself forward but you need to be mindful of the fact that at times you are going to make mistakes.
“Learn from them, don’t let them get you down.”
During her first cadetship, three years with South Australia’s community paper The Messenger, Lloyd said she embraced the opportunity to learn.
“My first editor said to me that I was a lemon and that he had hired a dud.
“I respect the candid comment, critical observation because instead of giving up… I set myself a task of working harder longer hours. I turned myself around.”
She said no matter your formal qualifications, nothing is beneath you when you are an aspiring journalist.
“You will have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Be prepared for that and relish the fact.
“You have to be a really inquisitive person… And fixated with the word why.”
She said all new journalists had to be sponges and constantly practise the craft of writing.
“This is not a 38 hour job,” she said firmly. “You have to live and breathe it.”
This includes reading newspapers, listening to radio news, analysing front page stories and mastering the basics of writing.
“Grammar and punctuation are like the playbook on which you build your game around,” Lloyd said.
She compared the process of writing to learning a musical instrument, the key to both being practise.
“People think they can say they can write but in fact they can’t… I always say to [them] – you do have to practise!”
She said this would stay true, even in the next ten years as journalism becomes more digital.
“Two years ago we didn’t even have ipads – who knows what sorts of platforms we will be reporting journalism on in 10 years.
“But I’d still like to be a journalist.”
Despite the popularity of blogs, she said websites that collect other people’s information and do not produce their own content would never replace genuine news outlets.
“For all the bad things journalists can do… it’s still better off to have us doing what we do and holding the powerful to account.”