21 May 2024

Meet the Region Illawarra team: Journalist Keeli Royle

| Kellie O'Brien
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woman and her baby

Region Illawarra journalist Keeli Royle on maternity leave with son Henry. Photo: Bellizzi Studios.

For journalist Keeli Royle, joining the Region Illawarra team opened her eyes further to what the area has to offer, despite being born and raised here.

Now, it’s the birth of her first child, Henry, six weeks ago that she’s confident will provide her with yet another new lens through which to view the region and its stories.

Keeli’s passion for journalism was unexpected and it took multiple university degrees and internships for her to find her path.

“There were a number of journalism classes I had to do as part of my degree, but I hated it and decided journalism wasn’t for me,” she said.

However, it was a two-week internship at Nine’s Sydney broadcasting office that “changed everything”.

“It was very different being on the road, following reporters and seeing what happens in real life,” she said.

Keeli decided to choose broadcast journalism as her final subject to complete her degree while continuing with Nine doing an autocue job and later writing.

When a part-time weather assistant position came up at WIN News Illawarra, she jumped at the chance and, within two months, had become a full-time reporter.

“I had in my mind I would have to go to Orange or Wagga or out west to get my start because that seemed to be the standard, but to actually get a journalism job at WIN, where I grew up, was great,” she said.

She helped keep the community informed as the health reporter during the pandemic before moving to the big smoke as a producer for Channel 7’s Sunrise.

READ ALSO Meet the Region Illawarra team: Journalist Dione David

“It’s all live and the show goes for quite a long time, so you have to learn to adapt while on the run and be in a control room, which was a whole new ball game for me,” she said.

“But what I got to cover was really broad and vast, from international news and massive breaking news events to those little stories like the young boy who set up a corner shop to start his own business.

“I guess it was up my alley too because even though I fell in love with broadcast television, I was never super keen on being in front of the camera.

“I was always of the mindset that it wasn’t really about me, it was about everyone else in the story.”

Many major events and midnight alarms later, Keeli was feeling the itch to return to Wollongong, just as Region Media expanded to the Illawarra.

“Working for Region has been different, going back to digital print, but it’s been good to be afforded those long one-on-one conversations, as opposed to TV when you’re often on a tight timeframe to get those grabs to get the interview,” she said.

“People have a tendency to open up a lot more later in the conversation when they realise you’re not so intimidating and that’s when the real gold can come out and they say something you didn’t go in there at all expecting.”

And for Keeli, those have been many.

“There was one last year that was about these girls advocating for equal opportunity in rugby league,” she said.

“It was really great to see those younger people speaking out and to be able to tell their story and have their voices heard.”

READ ALSO Meet the Region Illawarra team: Subeditor Andrew Sutton

Keeli said others included human interest stories such as a woman who created a cancer support group for multicultural women through to thought-provoking pieces like Zoe’s astroturf story.

“Part of being born and bred in Wollongong is that you hear a story and you go, ‘Oh, I know their cousin or I’ve been to that place’,” she said.

“There’s always those little connections and I think that’s what our audience actually gets out of it too.

“Even though it’s been a massive change coming to work for Region, it’s opened my eyes a bit more to the region as well.”

She said while Wollongong had always been part of her life, even having her first job at the Maccas near the WIN Entertainment Centre at age 14, it wasn’t until talking with people and hearing their stories that she truly appreciated how diverse and exciting the region was – something she’d taken for granted.

“It’s been really great to be part of those stories again and to share them,” she said.

“I am looking forward to getting back to it.

“I’m still very much excited for all the stories we still have to tell and having my son be a part of that now and seeing how he will influence my perspective on things.”

Keeli admitted while she loved exploring Illawarra’s beaches and was keen for a return to hockey, she didn’t have a great amount of downtime on her hands these days with newborn Henry.

“It’s very much adjusting to a whole new life, so I’m spending my downtime now listening to The Wiggles’ new rave soundtrack,” she said, laughing.

“It’s been a massive adjustment but a really exciting one.”

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