From blogging in her lounge room in 2007 to now running Australia’s largest digital women’s media company, Mia Freedman is one of Australia’s most influential journalists.
But despite being the co-founder and creative director of the Mamamia Women’s Network, home to the world’s largest women’s podcast network, she is still a “hands-on” content creator, which is what she says she does best.
Starting her career in print (Freedman was the youngest ever editor of Cosmopolitan at age 24), Freedman transitioned to television, digital media, podcasting and social media.
She visited Macleay College this week and told journalism students digital media was not just the future, but the present, of journalism: “It’s where the jobs are.”
“The definition of what it is to be a journalist or a writer has changed,” said Freedman. “There’s never been a better time to get your work out there – there is no longer a linear path to make it into journalism.”
But although digital media makes it easier for young journalists to publish their work, it has also led to the rise of “alternative facts” and fake news, such as fraudster Belle Gibson and the anti-vaccination movement.
“Anti-vaxxers were very much early adopters of fake news… when it comes to things like facts, the water has been muddied,” Freedman told students.
Incorporating different types of media – including video, audio grabs, podcasts and social media – has boosted Mamamia‘s readership. Freedman told students it was a real skill to work out what readers wanted, whether that was photographs, tweets or video.
She advised students on how to fulfil the audience’s demands: “You never stand in your shoes looking out at your audience; you stand in their shoes looking back and you and think, ‘What do they [the audience] want from what I’m producing?’. I have a real ability to put myself in the shoes of other women.”
Reader analytics and social media feedback also help Freedman and her staff determine what their audience wants.
There’s a big demand from Mamamia‘s users for video and podcast. Mamamia‘s podcast network is the largest women’s podcast network in the world with 14 shows, 24 female hosts, and 2 million podcast downloads each month.
“I love podcasting now more than anything else I do,” said Freedman.
In the past week, Freedman has interviewed businesswoman Roxy Jacenko and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on her podcast show, No Filter.
“I was nervous about that Malcolm [Turnbull] interview because I felt the weight of expectation,” said Freedman.
“I knew I couldn’t be Leigh Sales. I don’t have that wealth of information … that was going to be a lose/lose situation.
“I just wanted to talk to him as a person.”
And it is those judgement calls that see Mia Freedman and Mamamia going from strength to strength.
Their purpose is to “make the world a better place for women and girls” and Freedman is doing this one article, video or podcast at a time. – Jessica Staveley
Photo by Jasmine Motti, video filmed by Rebecka Davidsson and produced by Phil Logan.