Sarah Ferguson (journalist)

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Sarah Ferguson
Born (1965-12-31) 31 December 1965 (age 56)
  • Journalist
  • reporter
  • TV presenter
  • producer
EmployerAustralian Broadcasting Corporation
Known forRevelation
Hitting Home
The Killing Season
Four Corners
SpouseTony Jones (1993–present)[1]
AwardsGold Walkley
Walkley Award
AACTA Documentary Award
Logie Award

Sarah Ferguson (born 31 December 1965) is an Australian[1] journalist, reporter and television presenter. She is the host of ABC TV's current affairs program 7.30.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Ferguson was born in Lagos, Nigeria, where her British-born parents lived before moving to Britain as the Biafran war broke out. Her Scottish father Iain, a trainee pilot turned businessman, worked for Dunlop.

Ferguson attended New Hall, a Catholic-run private girls school in Boreham, Essex. She later studied English literature at King's College, London. In her early teens, she began a correspondence with the poet Philip Larkin.[3] In a teenage essay she said when she grew up, she wanted to be "a commando and a librarian in the British House of Commons".[4]

Ferguson's career began in newspapers in the United Kingdom, writing arts reviews for The Independent. Later she moved to Paris and worked as a researcher and production assistant on arts programs for French and British broadcasters. In 1992, Australian journalist and the ABC's London correspondent, Tony Jones, hired Ferguson to help him on a story about French politics. Ferguson and Jones married a year later.[5]

In 2017, the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters was conferred on Ferguson by the University of Sydney for excellence in journalism.[6]


In 2000, Ferguson worked as a reporter for Dateline and Insight. In 2004 she joined the Sunday program on Channel Nine and in 2008 joined Four Corners, the ABC's flagship current affairs program. Her first story was an investigation into political fundraising. She was nominated for a record four Walkley Awards in 2007.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation[edit]

In 2011, Ferguson reported on the live cattle export trade in Australian cattle to Indonesia. The episode, "A Bloody Business", won the Gold Walkley Award and led to suspension of the trade.[7][8][9] Ferguson won the Logie for Most Outstanding Public Affairs Report in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. She also won the George Muster Award and the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards for her reporting on people smuggling and the toxic culture within the rugby league.

In 2014, Ferguson hosted 7.30 and her interviews with the Australian treasurer Joe Hockey were nominated for a Walkley for journalistic excellence. They would later be described as "aggressive" and "the tone of the questioning could have been interpreted by some viewers to be a potential breach of the ABC's impartiality guidelines".[10][11][12]

In 2014, Ferguson caused controversy at the Walkley Awards when she publicly railed against job cuts at the ABC.[13][14][15] Ferguson presented two major series for the ABC in 2015. She wrote and presented The Killing Season, a documentary series on the Rudd / Gillard years, analysing the events of the Labor governments of 2007 to 2013. Ferguson interviewed Australian Labor Party decision-makers and strategists who had engaged in internal conflict that brought down a government which had successfully countered the post-2008 global financial crisis. The series won the AACTA award for documentary in 2015.

In November 2015, Ferguson replaced Kerry O'Brien as host of Four Corners.

In 2017, as Ferguson was getting off a plane, she was told that her mother Marjorie had died suddenly in England. Later she became aware that hospital negligence had led to her mother's death. She wrote about the experience in her book On Mother.[16]

In May 2017, Ferguson presented "The Siege", a two-part special investigating the siege at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, Sydney. Ferguson interviewed the families of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson and the surviving hostages and examined how authorities had failed to comprehend the risk posed by hostage-taker Man Haron Monis.[17][18]

In June 2018, Ferguson presented and produced "Trump/Russia", a Four Corners three-part series on President Donald Trump and his connections to Russia. The series was filmed over several months in the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia.[19] In November 2018, Ferguson reported and presented "Bitter End" about conflict within the ABC which led to the resignations of its managing director Michelle Guthrie and chair Justin Milne within one week.[20]

On 5 July 2022, Ferguson replaced Leigh Sales as presenter of 7:30 on ABC.[21]


Ferguson has collaborated with producer Nial Fulton on two documentary series for ABC. In 2016 she presented Hitting Home on domestic violence in Australia. The series won Best Documentary at the 2016 AACTA Awards[22] and the Walkley Documentary Award.[23]

In 2018, Ferguson started working on Revelation, a three-part documentary series for the ABC about the Catholic Church sexual abuse cases in Australia.[24]

Revelation aired on ABC on 17 March, 31 March and 2 April 2020.[25] Ferguson interviewed convicted Catholic priest Father Vincent Ryan and Bernard McGrath, a former religious brother from the Order of St John of God. Her interview with Ryan was the first time anywhere in the world a still serving Catholic priest publicly discussed their sexual abuse of children.

In "Goliath", the third episode of Revelation, Ferguson interviewed two men, identified as Bernie and Peter Clarke, who accused Australian cardinal George Pell of sexually abusing them as boys when he was a priest in the Diocese of Ballarat and investigated their accusations. The alleged sexual abuse occurred when Pell spent time at the Catholic orphanage where the men resided in the 1970s.[26]

Following Pell's acquittal and subsequent release from Barwon Prison, the producers temporarily removed the third episode of the series to include these developments before restoring the episode to the ABC iView platform.[27] The ABC also released a statement which stood by the program's content, stating "The ABC has – and will continue to – report accurately and without fear or favour on stories that are in the public interest, including this one."[27] On 13 April 2020, police began an investigation of the sex abuse allegations discussed in Revelation.[28]

Following Revelation, Ferguson stepped down as presenter of Four Corners and accepted the role of China bureau chief for the ABC.[3] After a year of political turmoil in the region, with journalists forced to leave China, her visa did not eventuate.[29]

United States[edit]

In 2020, the ABC announced Ferguson would take up a short term role as a "special reporter" in Washington in early 2021.[30]

In August 2021, Ferguson's two-part report "Fox and the Big Lie" screened on Four Corners.[31][32] It investigated how the Rupert Murdoch-owned American cable network Fox News allegedly became a propaganda vehicle for Donald Trump and helped destabilise America. Ferguson interviewed major Fox identities, including Gretchen Carlson and former Fox political editor Chris Stirewalt. Prior to broadcast, Fox News sent a legal threat to the ABC, stating that the broadcaster had "violated" its own standards by "exhibiting bias".[33][34]

The Murdoch-owned newspaper The Australian published 45 articles in two days attacking the program, accusing the ABC of doing a "full frontal hit-job on Rupert Murdoch, NewsCorp and the US Fox News Channel".[35] Episode 1 was watched by 586,000 viewers.[36] News Corp denied there had been a coordinated campaign against the program.[33] The ABC said the News Corp response was expected and that "the striking uniformity of the attacks from News Corp journalists, commentators and outlets ... has only further served to highlight the importance of having a range of independent voices in the Australian media. News Corp not liking a story does not mean the story is biased or inaccurate".[37]

Ferguson responded to the threat of legal action by Fox News, stating that "We're not in fear of anything ... there are fewer more important stories to look at in America right now."[38]

In the second episode of Fox and the Big Lie, Ferguson's interview with former federal prosecutor and Trump lawyer Sidney Powell generated international headlines[39][40] as Powell struggled to answer questions about her claims Smartmatic and Dominion were involved in rigging the 2020 Presidential Election. Ferguson asked Powell what fact-checking she had done to find out what Smartmatic's actual involvement in the election was. Powell responded that she was confused as to why Ferguson was interviewing her. Ferguson explained it was because Powell had made a series of very strong allegations against Smartmatic and Dominion, containing 'many errors of fact.' Ferguson then said 'You said Smartmatic owns Dominion. How do you justify such a basic factual error?' Powell walked out of the interview, only to reluctantly come back and continue to stick to her baseless claims.[41][42]

After Powell said the election fraud had been planned for at least three years, Ferguson asked her: Do you ever hear yourself and think it sounds ridiculous? Powell replied: No. I know myself very well. I've been me a long time. [43][44]

In April 2022, the ABC announced Ferguson would return to Australia to succeed Leigh Sales as the host of ABC TV's current affairs program 7.30 from July 2022.[2]


  • 2008 – Buying Back The River
  • 2009 – Code of Silence[45]
  • 2011 – A Bloody Business[46]
  • 2012 – Another Bloody Business[47]
  • 2012 – Growing Up Poor[48]
  • 2013 – Trading Misery[49]
  • 2015 – Hitting Home
  • 2015 – The Killing Season
  • 2016 – The Leaders[50]
  • 2017 – The Siege[17]
  • 2018 – Trump/Russia[51]
  • 2018 – Bitter End[52]
  • 2019 – Revelation
  • 2021 - Fox and the Big Lie
  • 2022 - Despair And Defiance: The Battle For Ukraine[53]


Key Awards and Nominations
Award Title Year Category Recipient(s) Result
Queensland Premier's Literary Awards Code of Silence 2009 Harry Williams Award Sarah Ferguson Won
Walkley Awards Code of Silence 2009 Best Sports Journalism Sarah Ferguson, Kate Wild, Anne Connolly, Ivan O'Mahoney Won
TV Week Logie Awards Smuggler's Paradise 2011 Most Outstanding Public Affairs Report Sarah Ferguson, Michael Doyle Won
Walkley Awards A Bloody Business 2011 Gold Walkley Award Sarah Ferguson, Michael Doyle, Anne Worthington Won
Walkley Awards A Bloody Business 2011 Documentary Award Sarah Ferguson, Michael Doyle, Anne Worthington Won
Melbourne Press Club Smuggler’s Paradise Australia 2012 Gold Quill Award Sarah Ferguson Won
TV Week Logie Awards A Bloody Business 2012 Most Outstanding Public Affairs Report Sarah Ferguson, Michael Doyle Won
AACTA Awards The Killing Season 2015 AACTA Award for Best Documentary Sarah Ferguson, Deborah Masters Won
TV Week Logie Awards The Killing Season 2015 Most Outstanding Public Affairs Report Sarah Ferguson, Deborah Masters Won
Amnesty International Australia Media Awards Hitting Home 2016 Television Award Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton, Ivan O'Mahoney Won
AACTA Awards Hitting Home 2016 AACTA Award for Best Documentary Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton, Ivan O'Mahoney Won
Our Watch Awards Hitting Home 2016 Best Longform Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton, Ivan O'Mahoney Won
Screen Producers Australia Hitting Home 2016 Series Documentary Production Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton, Ivan O'Mahoney Nominated
TV Week Logie Awards Hitting Home 2016 Most Outstanding Public Affairs Report Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton, Ivan O'Mahoney Nominated
Walkley Awards Hitting Home 2016 Documentary Award Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton, Ivan O'Mahoney Won
Asian Academy Creative Awards Revelation 2020 Best Documentary Series Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton, Tony Jones Won
Walkley Awards Revelation 2020 Documentary Award Sarah Ferguson, Nial Fulton, Tony Jones Won


  • Ferguson, Sarah (2016), On Mother, Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Publishing, ISBN 978-0-522-87408-2
  • Ferguson, Sarah; Drum, Patricia, (authors.) (2016), The Killing Season Uncut, Melbourne University Publishing, ISBN 978-0-522-86995-8{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) Carlton, Victoria : Melbourne University Publishing


  1. ^ a b Maley, Jacqueline (5 July 2014). "Sarah Ferguson on 7.30 and what makes her tick". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b Knox, David (29 April 2022). "Sarah Ferguson to host 7:30". TV Tonight. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b Snow, Deborah (12 March 2020). "Lunch with Sarah Ferguson: Philip Larkin, child abuse and China". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  4. ^ University of Melbourne website
  5. ^ Sydney Morning Herald
  6. ^ University of Sydney website
  7. ^ A Bloody Business, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 30 May 2011, retrieved 3 September 2021
  8. ^ O'Sullivan, Siobhan. "The live export of animals will always be a bloody business". The Conversation. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Doco reveals Australian cattle tortured overseas". 30 May 2011. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  10. ^ Knott, Matthew (17 February 2015). "Sarah Ferguson interview with Joe Hockey 'breached ABC bias guidelines': review". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  11. ^ "ABC defends Sarah Ferguson's interview with Joe Hockey against bias accusation". The Guardian. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  12. ^ "O'Brien: we're asking the wrong questions about Ferguson's Hockey interview". Crikey. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Ferguson lashes ABC over job cuts in Walkleys speech". Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  14. ^ Knott, Matthew (5 December 2014). "ABC star Sarah Ferguson attacks broadcaster's management over digital investment". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  15. ^ "Walkley awards: Sarah Ferguson gives ABC management a blast". The Guardian. 5 December 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  16. ^ "No way to lose her: Sarah Ferguson on her mother". ABC Radio. 17 May 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  17. ^ a b The Siege - Part One, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 22 May 2017, retrieved 14 March 2020
  18. ^ "Sarah Ferguson: 'One of most compelling things I've ever heard'". NewsComAu. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  19. ^ Trump/Russia: Follow the Money, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 6 June 2018, retrieved 15 September 2020
  20. ^ Ferguson, Reported by Sarah (8 November 2018). "Bitter End". Four Corners. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  21. ^ "Sarah Ferguson to present 7.30".
  22. ^ "Past Awards". Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  23. ^ The Guardian
  24. ^ "Sarah Ferguson to investigate forces behind Catholic Church child abuse in new 3-part special". Australian Television News - TV Blackbox. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  25. ^ "Revelation | Episode 3". ABC Radio. 2 April 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  26. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: The ABC's Sarah Ferguson reveals what it's really like to interview convicted paedophiles". Now To Love. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  27. ^ a b Meade, Amanda (8 April 2020). "ABC to re-edit and restore George Pell episode of Revelation as News Corp goes on attack". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  28. ^ Torre, Giovanni (13 April 2020). "Australian police investigating new child abuse allegations against Cardinal George Pell". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  29. ^ Zanda Wilson (21 October 2020). "ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson posts to Washington amid uncertainty over Beijing move". Mumbrella. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  30. ^ Quinn, Karl (21 October 2020). "ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson to take up short-term Washington post". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  31. ^ Knox, David. "Four Corners: Aug 30 | TV Tonight". Retrieved 3 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  32. ^ Fox and the Big Lie - Part One, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 23 August 2021, retrieved 3 September 2021
  33. ^ a b "Murdoch empire strikes back at ABC Four Corners documentary on Fox News' championing of Trump". The Guardian. 25 August 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  34. ^ The Daily Beast
  35. ^ "The ABCs big lie and the madness of four corners". Retrieved 3 September 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  36. ^ Thomas, Trent (24 August 2021). "TV Ratings August 23, 2021: The Voice continues to push Seven to #1". Mediaweek. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  37. ^ "ABC Statement: "Fox and the Big Lie"". About the ABC. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  38. ^ "'We're not in fear of anything': Sarah Ferguson responds to Fox News' legal threats over Four Corners report". ABC Radio. 26 August 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  39. ^ Mastrangelo, Dominick (31 August 2021). "Australian reporter clashes with Sidney Powell over 2020 election claims". TheHill. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  40. ^ "Fox News guests like Star Wars 'freaks', says ex-analyst on network". The Independent. 1 September 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  41. ^ "Four Corners sat down with former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell. Here's what happened". 30 August 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  42. ^ "Sidney Powell mocked for 'alien body snatcher'-like answers in bizarre interview". The Independent. 31 August 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  43. ^ Baragona, Justin (31 August 2021). "Sidney Powell Storms Off Set When Grilled on Her Election Lies". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  44. ^ Binckes, Jeremy. "Australian reporter's question to Trump election lawyer Sidney Powell: 'Do you ever hear yourself and think that it sounds ridiculous?". MarketWatch. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  45. ^ Code of Silence - 2009, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 8 August 2011, retrieved 14 March 2020
  46. ^ A Bloody Business - 2011, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 8 August 2011, retrieved 14 March 2020
  47. ^ Another Bloody Business, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 5 November 2012, retrieved 14 March 2020
  48. ^ Growing Up Poor, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 24 September 2012, retrieved 14 March 2020
  49. ^ Trading Misery, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 18 November 2013, retrieved 14 March 2020
  50. ^ The Leaders, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 27 June 2016, retrieved 14 March 2020
  51. ^ "Four Corners: Trump/Russia". ABC iview. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  52. ^ Ferguson, Sarah; Drum, Patricia; Brigid; Andersen (12 November 2018). "Guthrie and Milne reveal explosive relationship breakdown at ABC". ABC News. Retrieved 14 March 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  53. ^ "Despair and Defiance: The Battle for Ukraine". ABC News. 21 March 2022. Retrieved 1 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by Four Corners

February 2016 – present
Succeeded by
Preceded by 7.30

Succeeded by