This Much I Know: RTÉ's Washington Correspondent, Brian O’Donovan

There is nothing like the buzz of doing a live news report.
This Much I Know: RTÉ's Washington Correspondent, Brian O’Donovan

My passion is going live.

There is nothing like the buzz of doing a live news report.

A few nerves are a good thing as they give you that extra adrenaline rush to perform better.

My biggest skill is being cool under pressure. That, and having the gift of the gab. Being cool under pressure simply comes with experience. And the gift of the gab, well…

Growing up in Farran, I was a very outgoing child. Always a talker. I watched television morning, noon and night and loved the idea of working in the media.

I went up to Dublin to study Communications at DCU and began my broadcasting career with Red FM back in Cork in 2002. Three years later I made the move to TV3 and five years ago to RTE.

I’ve been extremely lucky. I can’t say I’ve had any major challenges so far. Moving to Washington in 2018, as the RTÉ correspondent, was a big thing for me and my family of course, but in a positive way.

I met my wife Joanna at Irish College in Ballyferriter in 1998. She’s from Crosshaven and works as a primary school teacher. We have two daughters, Erin, six and Lucy, 10.

To keep mentally sane, I’m still very much a talker. I deal with any stress through rationalisation and by discussing what’s on my mind with Joanna.

And normally, I go running a lot. During these days of social isolation that’s not so easy, but on the plus side I’m getting to hang out with the girls and Joanna — we have a small backyard — and it helps to know everyone is in the same situation.

If I could be reborn as someone else I’d be a fly on the wall in Donald Trump’s Oval Office.

I enjoy the hectic pace of news journalism and the fact that it is deadline based. The threat of a deadline excites me rather than stresses me.

I’m getting better at having a work/life balance although I do see the role I currently occupy as meaning I’m on call 24/7. But the time difference [between the US and Ireland] really helps. My phone is always on for breaking news. Donald Trump could send a world changing tweet at any moment.

My biggest fault is a tendency to over-analyse things.

I certainly do believe in an afterlife. I had a Catholic up-bringing and go to mass over here.

For my job, obviously, I have to be objective about everything, including the Trump administration and to remember that half the country did vote for him. I’m often asked for my personal views and, even then, always try to see both sides. The Twitter reaction lets me know if I’m getting the balance right. If so, I get an equal amount of comments telling me I’m highlighting the positives too much and that I’m being too anti-Trump.

The personality trait I look for in others is simple: I like easy-going people. People I can strike up a conversation with.

I’m a lark, not an owl. Maybe it’s because my first job was on a morning breakfast show. Now, having the children gives structure to my life, quite apart from work.

The best advice I’ve ever received, and the phrase that saves me in times of trouble, is not to sweat the small stuff.

The personality trait that irritates me most is a general disrespect for others, you know, people who seem to look down on other people.

So far life has taught me not to get too bogged down with the work side of things because people will soon forget that you were on the Six One News back in the year whatever — it is family and friends that count. I do try to take a step back and remember that.

  • RTÉ’s Washington Correspondent Brian O’Donovan hosts States of Mind, a weekly podcast following the US Presidential election with RTÉ journalist Jackie Fox. Listen to it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

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