Veteran TV journalist Liz Hayes has opened up about her illustrious career in television and the ups and downs of her personal life through the years.
Speaking to 60 Minutes colleague, Tara Brown, last night she reflected on her decades-long career in TV journalism and how it all began.
“Growing up we didn’t even have a television, so I wasn’t about to have this dream at all.”
Being a woman in the media in the 80s, Liz Hayes had to fight for equal pay.
— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) November 12, 2023
Now 67, Hayes grew up on a dairy farm near Taree on the New South Wales mid north coast. Her first job was as a cadet reporter on her local paper where she was immediately drawn into the world of storytelling.
“Straight away I thought, this is amazing to be able to tell people’s stories,” she said.
It wasn’t long before Hayes said goodbye to news reporting and entered the world of television in 1986 when she took on the role as co-host of Channel Nine’s Today show.
A lot happened during her 10 year tenure with the show including her advocating for equal pay as her male colleagues.
About taking a stand for equal gender rights she commented, “I’m not comfortable being that person, but I’ve become that person,
“You have to speak in a very straight manner. I couldn’t be polite about it. And that was very confronting for those hearing it.”
While her career continued to reach new heights, Hayes’ personal life came under intense scrutiny with the breakdown of three marriages.
She recalls a particular hurtful gossip column where an old friend asked if there was something wrong with her following her failed marriages.
“Of all the comments I got, that crushed me, yeah. And I think that was because I thought, ‘That’s what everyone must be thinking. I’m a failure.’ So, it was awful,” Hayes said.
Following ten years under the media’s gaze and years of harassment by a stalker, Hayes left the Today show for 60 Minutes where she would enjoy a less visible reporter role.
About her experience being stalked she said, “What stalkers do is rob you of your sense of safety. That’s how it is, and that robs me of life that I hate having been taken.”
Former head of 9News Peter Meakin hired Hayes and said it was her “unique likeability that made her ideal for the show”.
“She was warm, she was credible, and people liked her. And, you know, part of the gig on 60 Minutes is that the reporters have got to be liked,
Meakin added, “I like to think that I’ve worked with many talented people on a number of networks but she’s up there,”
“She’s one of the best.”
A professional to the nth degree, Hayes has been able to surmount the many obstacles in her personal life to continue reaching new heights in her career as her passion for television endures.
In addition to reporting for 60 Minutes, she also now hosts her own show, Under Investigation.
‘I didn’t think I’d still be working as I am, but I am because I love it and I have the energy for it,” Hayes said.