It’s about the team

Lisa Wilkin­son be­lieves she suc­ceeds by ig­nor­ing the crit­ics, writes Siob­han Duck

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

SHE’S never been one to shy from a chal­lenge, but there were plenty of crit­ics who ques­tioned the wis­dom of Lisa Wilkin­son’s move from Week­end Sun­rise to the drama-plagued To­day show.

To­day had long strug­gled in the rat­ings and was con­stantly lam­pooned, but Wilkin­son sensed the show — un­der the lead­er­ship of new ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Tom Malone — was emerg­ing from its rough patch.

Wilkin­son’s pre­de­ces­sors, most no­tably Jes­sica Rowe and co-host Karl Ste­fanovic, had faced in­tense pub­lic scru­tiny for their on-air per­for­mances in 2006-07.

She knew, in ac­cept­ing the job, that she could face harsh crit­i­cism.

That hasn’t hap­pened to Wilkin­son, nor any of her To­day col­leagues, since she’s been with the show.

‘‘Too much fo­cus on par­tic­u­lar peo­ple rather than the news we de­liver is not healthy. I took it as a good sign when we stopped get­ting col­umn inches,’’ Wilkin­son says.

‘‘It’s a fan­tas­tic chance to stop be­ing about in­di­vid­u­als and be about about the team.’’

Last year, when she was of­fered the job, she sat down and watched To­day to get a feel for the con­tent and the team. De­spite all the crit­i­cism she liked what she saw.

Wilkin­son says she learned early in her ca­reer, when she was given her first edit­ing job at Dolly mag­a­zine at only 21 and ad­mit­tedly less qual­i­fied than most of her peers, to ig­nore crit­ics and fo­cus on do­ing her best.

‘‘I learned when I was edit­ing Dolly that the only way to sur­vive is to put my head down and just do my job,’’ she says.

‘‘When I took the To­day job I thought, ‘What’s the worst that can hap­pen? I’ll still have a hus­band who loves me and three kids who I re­ally love’. I have been blessed in so many ways al­ready.’’

Wilkin­son’s gam­ble on To­day has paid off for Nine and the wo­man her­self.

To­day’s rat­ings are on the climb, par­tic­u­larly in Melbourne where it reg­u­larly top­ples Sun­rise.

So suc­cess­ful is the show in Melbourne that there have been rum­blings it should make a per­ma­nent move here from Syd­ney.

Though she has three school-aged chil­dren, Wilkin­son is open to the idea of a move if it ben­e­fits the show.

Wilkin­son says To­day’s im­prov­ing rat­ings are a re­sult of the fact that they have ‘‘stopped look­ing over their shoul­der to see what the op­po­si­tion may or may not be do­ing’’.

‘‘Our pro­ducer Tom Malone has had a very clear vi­sion (for the show) since he came along 22 months ago when a lot of the prob­lems were there. Look at Sun­rise — it (rise) hap­pened over a few years and it hap­pened qui­etly.

‘‘We are fo­cused on re­ally get­ting the con­tent right. We don’t spe­cialise in fluff.

‘‘We know our au­di­ence wants more news and cur­rent af­fairs,’’ she says.

Wilkin­son seems equally an­noyed by the con­tin­ued in­sin­u­a­tion from the Seven camp that To­day’s new-found suc­cess has been a di­rect re­sult of copy­ing Sun­rise’s for­mula.

She says the re­cent changes to To­day’s for­mat, such as start­ing at 5.30am in­stead of 6am and hav­ing Wilkin­son and Ste­fanovic do more solo in­ter­views, are a marked point of dif­fer­ence to Sun­rise.

‘‘I am tired of this crit­i­cism that the To­day show is copy­ing Sun­rise. It (Sun­rise) does not have the fran­chise for break­fast television.’’

She says peo­ple for­get that To­day is the pi­o­neer break­fast show, and that Sun­rise had used it as in­spi­ra­tion when it started.

Hap­pier days:

it’s all good for Lisa Wilkin­son and (be­low) To­day

co-host Karl Ste­fanovic.

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