I know things can be taken away
Deborah Knight opens up to Stellar about the intense scrutiny shes been under since taking her role on the Today show and why shell always stand up to the trolls.
If Deborah Knight wanted to refute suggestions that shes the hardest working woman in television, then she perhaps shouldnt have chosen a Friday in which to do it.
When she sits down to chat with Stellar at 2pm, shes in the middle of a split shift, having already worked for seven hours on the Today show, including an extra hour on air for a breaking news story in Melbourne. After our interview, shes back in the make-up chair ahead of another four hours of researching and reading the afternoon and evening news bulletins. When she clocks off around 7.30pm, shed like to go and watch her husband play in his band, but theres the small matter of organising a babysitter for the kids.
All journos are hardworking, she says, instantly dismissing the notion that shes any more industrious than her colleagues. Everyone whos worked with me in newsrooms over the years would know that I throw everything I possibly can at every job I do.
After being overlooked, rst at Network 10, where she lost her newsreading role to Sandra Sully, and then on Today where both Sylvia Jeffreys and Georgie Gardner were promoted
ahead of her, this year has seen Knight nally land the plum role many believe she has long deserved. Snaring the seat vacated by Karl Stefanovic was always going to generate interest, particularly when Nine Network executives made the unprecedented decision to have two women helm its agship breakfast show.
But if ve mornings of gruelling breakfast television wasnt enough, Knight has also held on to her role reading news bulletins on Friday and Saturday evenings, prompting speculation shes keeping her options open if the new Today line-up doesnt work out.
I reject that its a safety net, she says emphatically. I really love doing both and I think they complement each other. The age of having journalists just presenting one bulletin is gone. Everyone is versatile. Im working six days a week, but its not as if Im here all day [on] those six days.
If Knights seven-year tenure at Nine had her positioned more as a support act, her promotion to the headlining gig has brought with it not just greater status but more intense scrutiny. Inexplicably, breakfast television hosts are second only to reality-show contestants when it comes to appraisals of both their personality and pairings. In other industries the promotion, on merit, of
two women to the top roles might be seen as innovative and progressive, but for audiences still in their pyjamas theres a suspicion of change.
Knight says she watches the ratings because its the daily gauge of the show, but she doesnt take the comments to heart. A lot of it [the commentary] was just hateful and you have to ignore it. The rst day we were on air, we hadnt even completed the rst show and articles were appearing online writing us off and saying This is a dud. It was silly and unfair. I realised I couldnt control any of this, but what I could control was doing the best job I can.
Shes taken a similar approach to conjecture that she and Gardner dont get on and are locked in a battle for the top spot. Were not schoolgirls in a schoolyard, she points out with barely concealed exasperation. Were professional people and it shouldnt matter that were two women. It disappoints me that has to be the focus.
While much of the narrative has positioned the pair both blonde, both in their 40s as locked in a catght, they each say nothing could be further from the truth. Georgie and I have enormous respect for each other, says Knight. Were very different people, but I think
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