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5 minutes with Yolanda Redrup

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on
When she’s not breaking news at the AFR, you might find Yolanda Redrup in the pool, on a run, or chowing down on popcorn while smashing out words on a deadline. Here’s her 5 Minutes with Influencing Tech.
 
What do you do and where does your work appear?
I’m a technology and healthcare reporter for The Australian Financial Review. You’ll see my stories appearing in the daily paper, as well as the Tuesday tech section.
 
Anything else in your career you’ve been known for?
I moderate panels at events and you might also hear me pop up on podcasts every so often.
 
What did you really want to be when you were growing up?
When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut because I loved space, but I quickly realised that was unrealistic because I hated amusement park rides that went upside down… or really fast. I knew I wouldn’t get through the training. By the time I was in my early teens I’d settled on becoming a journalist because I loved writing, but didn’t think being a novelist would provide a steady income.
 
Which story or stories are you most proud of?
My coverage of Guvera and its failed float, a piece I did when I was still a trainee on C-suite executives going to rehab and more recently my feature on the local vaccine efforts underway to fight COVID-19 – it took me hours to properly understand how each of the different manufacturing techniques worked. You can read it here: https://www.afr.com/companies/healthcare-and-fitness/aussie-labs-abuzz-with-virus-cure-research-20200408-p54i5b
 
What's your secret superpower?
My ability to connect with people.
 
What are three top tips you can give PR pros for working with you effectively?
Always stop and think about if what you’re pitching is actually a news story. If it’s not, but you’re getting pressure from a client, find a way to make it stronger before pitching it. Too often I get pitches that make me stop and wonder if the person has ever actually read the AFR because it’s so far from something we’d run.
 
Exclusives matter.
 
Email and then text to follow up, avoid calling and please don’t leave a voicemail.
 
How do you like to start a PR relationship if you've never been in touch before?
Just send me an email introducing yourself and make sure to mention what clients you work with.
 
What's the most important lesson you've learned about journalism?
Your network is everything, so invest in keeping it strong.
 
How do you hunt for good stories?
Chatting to people in my network about what’s being discussed in the sector, what’s going on with their companies and who is raising at the time. Also, keeping across the big themes of the day (tech or political) and thinking about how I can push them forward.
 
What's been the biggest change in the industry over the past decade?
The rise of Google and the social media giants… but the biggest change of the next decade could be the mandatory code of conduct with these companies.
 
What do you think is the most important issue facing the tech industry today?
The development of AI. It’s critical to get the right international frameworks in place to ensure all AI is built in an ethical manner designed to better society, with humans at the centre. We do not want to entrench biases or have it used as a means of control. The recent Four Corners episode on AI in China was frightening.
 
The evolution of the consumer data right is also incredibly important and the development of mechanisms by which you can unbundle consent from the core service.
 
What's the biggest issue facing journalism?
The decline in advertising revenue triggered by the rise of the social media giants, which has led to newsrooms being stretched to breaking point and less time for pieces that require a lot of legwork.
 
Exclusives are everything. Discuss.
They are definitely important. I’m not going to cover a $6 million raise if it’s been sent to all the other papers. However, I’m more flexible when it comes to coordinating coverage between us and an overseas publication.
 
What do you wish you'd never have to explain to readers ever again?
Not sure currently, but a few years ago I’d have definitely said blockchain.
 
Name a recent story you wish you'd written.
The New York Times did an incredible data journalism piece about how the US lost the battle against COVID-19 and it was brilliant.
 
Who is the best journo in the industry and why?
It’s too hard to pick one person because there are a lot of people who are fantastic at covering different aspects of the industry. The sector is so broad that most of us end up developing expertise in certain niches.
 
Which industry publications, podcasts or other productions are on your unmissable list?
Publications: The New York Times, Wired, The Information, TechCrunch.
Podcasts: Recode Decode and Pivot, both by Kara Swisher. Locally give Open the Pod Bay Doors by Innovation Bay a listen.
 
How do you keep up with what your colleagues are writing?
I read as much as I can, but I’d be lying if I said I’d never missed a colleague’s story… It would be a full-time job to read every, single one.
 
Which app has changed your life more than any other?
I’m awarding it a tie between Netflix and BorrowBox. But for work it’s easily Otter.ai.
 
Favourite screen-free hobbies?
Running, reading, swimming and hiking (something I usually only get time for on holidays).
 
What's your best party trick?
I can do the floss… But so can a lot of people.
 
Not so much a trick, but a quirk that gets people talking – I can’t sign the number three with my fingers because I can’t hold them up straight. It’s physically impossible for me to do it. Reddit tells me I most likely have a missing muscle.
 
What’s your go-to song at karaoke?
Don’t Stop Believing by Journey.
 
Favourite sporting moment?
Susie O’Neill winning gold in the 200m butterfly at the1996 Atlanta Olympics. I was just a young kid, but it made me decide to be a swimmer at the time. The teenage me would be horrified that I’ve discovered a love of running as an adult.
 
Have you ever been said to resemble a famous person or character? If so, who?
I have a doppelganger somewhere because at least three times a year I meet someone who swears they saw me at a restaurant, the airport or in a shop a few days earlier. But #twinning by PopSugar says my closest celebrity match is Emma Watson.
 
What's your favourite game of all time?
Video game: Mario Kart
Card game: 500
Board game: Balderdash
Drinking game: Slap cup
 
Name five discs you'd want to be stuck with on a desert island?
Something to Tell You – Haim
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? – Billie Eilish
Dream Your Life Away – Vance Joy
Above and Beyond the acoustic album
Elton John’s Greatest Hits
 
What was your favourite TV show of the 2010s?
Grey’s Anatomy
 
What vices do you lean into when you're chasing a tight deadline?
Cobs popcorn
 
What's the most ridiculous buzzword in the industry?
I wouldn’t say it’s ridiculous, but disruption/disruptive is definitely over used.
 
The PR fairy calls saying you can have the interview of your dreams. Who's it gonna be?
Bill Gates or Barack Obama.

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