Books & Literature

Book Review: Storytellers, by Leigh Sales

NON-FICTION: Highly respected ABC anchor, bestselling author and hit podcaster Leigh Sales interviews the cream of Australian journalists about their craft – how (and why) they bring us the stories that inform our lives.

Endlessly fascinating and informative.

Feature image credit: Simon & Schuster

Leigh Sales is a household name in Australia. An award-winning journalist, she also co-hosts a popular podcast, and is the current host of beloved program Australian Story. Storytellers is her second book, with her first, Any Ordinary Day, being published in 2019.

In this lively and engaging book Sales interviews some of Australia’s top journalists to find out how they do what they do, and why they do it. She takes a broad view of the term “journalist,” placing them into categories: news reporting; rounds and foreign correspondence; investigative reporting; features and books; interviewing; live broadcasting; telling a story with pictures; commentary and analysis; anchoring; and editors and executive producers. Each of these roles takes part in the storytelling which is at the heart of good journalism. Interviewees include Tracy Grimshaw, Samantha Maiden, Laurie Oakes, Benjamin Law, Melissa Doyle, and of course her co-host on the podcast Chat 10 Looks 3, Annabel Crabb.

Each of the subjects has something wise and fascinating to say about journalism, storytelling, and the role of the media in a functioning society. Sales poses different questions to each interviewee, allowing the conversation to flow as naturally as possible. In each interview we learn a little about the person’s career, about their attitude to journalism, and about some of the most moving or frightening moments in their work. But rather than try to create mini-biographies, Sales has concentrated mostly on the craft of storytelling. There are lessons between these pages for writers (certainly) but also for anyone who tells stories: marketers, business owners, trainers, teachers, coaches, and publicists.

Storytellers is an endlessly interesting read, with the short-form interviews giving it pace, yet keeping enough depth to make it satisfying. There are moments of horror, moments of pathos, and moments of hilarity. There are also many salutary moments. For example Waleed Aly:

“… there’s just something new and wrong about the way we conduct public debate … It’s a stance we take towards one another … and it is contempt. We hold ourselves out to be morally superior to those with whom we disagree …”

Storytellers will appeal to lovers of current events, writers, entrepreneurs, aspiring journalists, and teachers of media, along with the general reader.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

The views expressed in this review belong to the author and not Glam Adelaide, its affiliates, or employees.

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster
Released: August 2023
RRP: $39.99

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