From a young age Paul Nolan thrived in the newspaper world. Since the young age of 18, he began his journey to climb the ladder.
Paul Nolan, 35, is one of three chief of staffs at the Herald Sun news department. His story is an inspiration for any journalist wanting to break in the industry.
In high school he did work experience at the Ballarat Courier and was offered to work on a casual basis as a reporter which led to a full time job.
He was chief of staff for about 10 years, mostly at Ballarat and Geelong. He spent four and a half years in Geelong and five and a half years as chief of staff at Ballarat.
Nolan speaks of his highlight as chief of staff at the Geelong Advertiser.
“The most fun I had as chief of staff was when Geelong won the AFL grand final in 2007. It was a massive story. The whole town had a unique feeling and buzz about it both at the game and the lead up. It was great to be a part of that. That was really really good fun,” he said.
Working in a paper like Geelong Advertiser allowed for “really bizarre creativity” which you can’t do in bigger papers.
“We turned our paper blue and white instead of black and white, because Geelong was playing Collingwood in a big game and we wanted to ban black and white, so we turned the paper blue. It was my idea at the time. It absolutely sold it socks off,” he said.
Because he has been the chief of staff for 10 years he’s been involved in all the breaking stories.
“I’ve been involved in every major story from September 11 to the royal visit, royal weddings, tsunamis and bushfires. They are all challenges,” he said.
“It certainly an adrenalin rush when those big, massive stories are breaking and you have to be across it all like Black Saturday, where you have to mobilise all your troops and make sure you cover every angle and that’s always a challenge.”
Paul has met his fair share of prominent people like “several prime ministers” but there was someone more important he was close by.
“I have not met the Queen but I’ve stood two feet away from her during a royal visit,” he said.
He hasn’t seen Julia Gillard or seen many movie stars as he hasn’t done a lot of entertainment writing.
In five years’ time he wants to continue to edit the paper.
“I will always be involved in news management in some level. I don’t think I’ll go back to writing a news page. I think I’ll be involved in editing and being chief of staff,” he said.
“One day I want to be an editor at a masthead somewhere.”
His vision for the Herald Sun is they must be a leader in news.
“We’ve got to be the number one news medium across various platforms every single day. We must be the best,” he said.
There’s a different type of job satisfaction from being a journalist to being a chief of staff, he said.
“When you write a story you get the satisfaction of seeing your name in the paper the next day. You know you’ve broken the story and done a good job. But when you are chief of staff you get the satisfaction seeing the product as a whole,” he said.
“You almost get a reward from every single page, not just the stories you write.”
Paul is encouraging in his advice for emerging journalists to make their mark.
“It requires enormous persistence because it’s a tough field to break into. You need to keep trying, not be discouraged when you are knocked back,” he said.
“Be prepared to travel to a small country paper or a suburban paper. Most people start at those small papers and work their way up. Don’t be discouraged to move and spend a year in the outback working at a weekly paper or a regional daily. I think they are great places to learn.”
Life outside work includes looking out for his four-year-old twins and a dream trip to the USA and Europe.