For the first time in almost a decade, Seven Tasmania News presenter Rachel Williams is preparing to not work on weekends.
The Launceston local will read her final news bulletin tonight after almost 10 years of keeping Tasmanians informed as their most popular weekend news presenter.
“I think I had my son Rupert on a Tuesday and I was back at work on a Saturday because that’s how much I loved my job,” Williams said, when asked what she’d miss most about the job.
“We’re very lucky to have a regional news broadcast live from Launceston, that’s pretty special and pretty unique as far as other centres around Australia are concerned.
“We work with some great people, there are some amazing young journalists, producers, camera operators and behind the scenes technical support people who just give 100 per cent for the product.”
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Williams said she would always appreciate the many opportunities the news presenter position gave her to support community groups, campaigns and causes.
“I’ve felt really honoured to have been asked to do a lot of things to benefit our community, whether it’s been having to dress up and look stupid or hosting gala balls,” she said.
“I walked the Overland Track and produced a documentary with community funding to highlight people with disability and what they can do.”
Williams’ passion for the local community and connecting with audiences became clear after her first experience working in a newsroom as a teenager.
“At first I thought I’d like to be a lawyer but then I did work experience at The Examiner when I was in grade 10 and I just loved it,” she said.
“I loved how fast paced it was, how you were being trusted with some of people’s most intimate details.
“I still remember there was one computer in the corner of the room that had the internet and we all had to line up and go and research a story.”
After she graduated from St Patricks College, Williams was offered a cadetship at The Examiner.
After she’d made her mark at the newspaper she was offered the chance to present sport for Southern Cross News. She later returned to The Examiner before leaving again to take up the weekend news presenter role six months after her first son was born.
“I’ve taken my chances when they’ve come my way and made the most of them,” Williams said.
While most viewers were complimentary, like many women in the media Williams said she was judged based on her appearance.
“I did receive a couple of comments in a row on Twitter from one lady who was very disparaging about a couple of outfits I wore and referred to one top as a black garbage bag,” she said.
“You just don’t respond, but I felt like replying saying ‘well it’s actually navy blue but anyway’.”
“I’m not going into politics, with a capital N-O-T,” she said.
“People have been speculating that I’m pregnant and I’m definitely not, anyway I’ve had two children behind the news desk anyway so that wouldn’t be an impediment to keeping on working.
“The best one was that I was definitely moving to Victoria to become a public relations manager for the Collingwood Football Club, which if they rang and offered me that job tomorrow I’d happily take it, but that’s also not happening.
“I’m not going to work with anyone else or for anyone else, I’m not swapping to radio, I’m just going to focus more on me and what I need to do at home.”
Williams said family and her freelance writing business would be the main priorities post news reading.
“Spending time during the COVID-19 lockdown with my kids really crystallised the fact that they’re growing so quickly and I just don’t want to miss out on it,” she said.
“My husband works Monday to Friday and the kids are at school so I don’t really get to spend that quality time with them because we’re always racing around after school to different sports and cultural pursuits they do.
“They’ve been counting down since I made the decision, they’ve been crossing off on the calendar waiting for the weekend that mum doesn’t have to go to work.”