Sarah Ferguson lands prime 7.30 gig on ABC

Sarah Ferguson has been appointed presenter of ABC nightly current affairs flagship 7.30.

One of Australia’s best known, most accomplished and highly awarded journalists, Ferguson will take over the role in July, joining chief political correspondent Laura Tingle and an outstanding team.

Host Leigh Sales announced in February she would step down at the end of June after almost 12 years as anchor and take up a new role with the ABC.

Ferguson began her journalism career in the UK and France. After moving to Australia she worked for SBS programs Dateline and Insight as a producer and reporter and spent four years on Nine Network’s Sunday program.

Ferguson joined the ABC in 2008 to work on Four Corners. She has won five Walkley Awards, including the 2011 Gold Walkley for “A Bloody Business”, an expose of Australia’s live cattle trade.

Among her other awards are five Logies for Most Outstanding Public Affairs Report, the Melbourne Press Club Gold Quill, two Australian Academy of Cinema & Television awards for documentary, the Asian Academy of Creative Arts award for documentary and the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award.

In 2014 Ferguson had a six-month stint as temporary 7.30 presenter. In 2015 she reported and presented ABC TV’s acclaimed documentary series on the Rudd-Gillard years, The Killing Season, and in the same year a landmark series on domestic violence, Hitting Home. In 2020 she presented Revelation, a ground-breaking documentary series on the criminal priests and brothers of the Catholic Church.

She has written two books, The Killing Season Uncut and a short book for Melbourne University press, On Mother.

Since early 2021 Ferguson has been based in Washington DC, reporting for the ABC’s news services, Four Corners and Foreign Correspondent.

Ferguson said: “I’m delighted to take on the presenter role at 7.30. Led by Leigh and Laura, the 7.30 team has created a powerhouse program.

“These are challenging times nationally and internationally, scrutiny of power is at a premium, but I have also witnessed in the US the destructive force of rancorous political division.

“On a brighter note, I expect to enjoy the role hugely, interviewing is one of the true thrills of journalism. Working in collaboration with the inimitable Laura Tingle is irresistible.

“On Leigh’s departure, I’d like to say that her diligence and skill have made an enormous contribution to Australian journalism. What you don’t see in her calm studio presence is the huge amount of work she does in preparation. It will be a pleasure to take over from such a pro,” she said.

David Anderson, ABC managing director said: “ABC audiences know and respect Sarah for her years of investigative journalism and insightful reporting and as a foreign correspondent. Her work has set an unparalleled standard, not only in Australian journalism but internationally, as evidenced by her recent reporting from Ukraine.

“Sarah is an exceptional appointment to take over 7.30 hosting duties from Leigh, alongside an outstanding team. 7.30 has been Australia’s premier daily current affairs program for decades and that will continue with Sarah at the helm.”

Justin Stevens, ABC director, news, added: “Sarah Ferguson is one of this country’s most formidable and experienced journalists. She is a forensic investigative journalist, a gifted storyteller and a truly fearsome interviewer.

“We’re incredibly fortunate with the depth of talent we have at the ABC. Leigh Sales has done a superb job anchoring 7.30 for the past 12 years and to have someone of the calibre of Sarah Ferguson to take up the baton, working alongside Laura Tingle and the rest of the talented 7.30 team, is terrific news for audiences.

“The nightly role 7.30 plays in holding to account those in power is a key part of the democratic process and Sarah, along with the rest of the team, will ensure we continue the program’s proud history of delivering agenda-setting public affairs journalism,” he said.

Sales said: “7.30 is an incredibly important program and I welcome handing the reins to a journalist of Sarah’s rigour and experience.

“I look forward to finishing up and joining the viewers of Australia to see where she takes it next.”

John Lyons, head, investigative and in-depth journalism concluded: “Sarah Ferguson will be a brilliant presenter of 7.30. Her tenacity, journalistic integrity and humanity make her perfectly suited to this crucial role.

“Sarah takes custodianship of a program which, night after night, holds to account powerful individuals and organisations. The program has a long tradition of journalistic rigour and determination – a tradition brilliantly demonstrated by Kerry O’Brien and, for the last 12 years, Leigh Sales.

“With so many fractures in the Australian community and so much disinformation and toxicity on social media, never has it been more important to have journalists of the calibre of Sarah Ferguson asking tough questions and providing answers,” said.

The ABC’s 7.30 airs Monday to Thursday every week and brings audiences key interviews with the top politicians, public figures and newsmakers from Australia and around the world, goes in-depth on the biggest stories of the day and investigates and breaks stories of national significance.

Launched in 1986, its proud record of public interest journalism extends across four decades.

In 2021 7.30’s national audience averaged 980,000 viewers a night with an audience share of around 13% in metro markets and 12.5% in regional areas.


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