Mixed reaction to news Lisa Wilkinson is leaving The Project

Media veterans, colleagues, fans, and viewers have reacted to the news that Lisa Wilkinson will be departing Channel 10’s The Project.

During Sunday’s show, the journalist and presenter told viewers she would be departing the panel after five years on the show. However she confirmed she would remain at the network.

“It’s time to reprioritise a few things in my life,” Wilkinson said.

“And after almost 15 years of the early alarm on breakfast TV, and now another five years here at The Project desk, I’m looking at how I want the coming years to play out, both professionally and personally.

“So, from tonight, I’m stepping back from hosting the show.”

Upon her announcement, Wilkinson’s 24-year-old daughter Billi FitzSimons also shared the video of the announcement on Twitter, adding: “Could not be more proud,” followed by a teary-eyed and yellow heart emoji.

Wilkinson’s husband and fellow journalist Peter FitzSimons also shared his support, retweeting a post shared by 10 News reporter Kate Doak.

It read: “While I’ve never met her in person, @Lisa_Wilkinson is someone at 10 whom I respect immensely. Her words about Peter Meakin are spot on too – he’s brilliant. I can’t wait to hear what your next production is, Lisa! Enjoy the break with @Peter_Fitz and margaritas!”

Talk show veteran and comedian Rove McManus also thanked Wilkinson for her work on the show. McManus is also the co-owner of Roving Enterprises, which produces The Project.

“A huge salute and debt of gratitude to the impeccable @Lisa_Wilkinson for her incredible leadership, dedication, empathy and journalistic prowess, as she steps down as part of

@theprojecttv team. We were lucky to have her,” he tweeted.

Wilkinson’s co-host Peter Helliar said Wilkinson would be “forever part of the family”.

“It has been a joy to witness first-hand @Lisa_Wilkinson empathy and dedication up close. More than that, I treasure the friendship we have. Lisa cares so much about the people and stories she covers,” he tweeted.

“I’ve seen it up close in unguarded moments. Say what you like about Lisa, she cares!”

The host of ABC Breakfast, Michael Rowland also farewelled the journalist.

“What a classy farewell! All the best, @Lisa_Wilkinson (and take care),” he tweeted.

However, media commentator and entertainment journalist Peter Ford appeared unimpressed with Wilkinson’s reasons for leaving the show.

“Only Lisa could manage to announce ‘her decision’ and make herself a victim at the same time. All the hard work she’s put in etc etc for four nights a week and 20 grand a week. That poor lady!” he tweeted on Sunday.

Previously, Ford also said he believed there would be more “’shock resignations’ in the next two weeks” and hinted that Wilkinson’s departure was part of the network’s “last-ditch attempt to rebrand the show”. Wilkinson’s exit follows Carrie Bickmore’s news that she would be leaving the show and chasing her “next chapter”.

During her announcement, Wilkinson said the “relentless, targeted toxicity” over the last six months had taken its toll.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above criticism, far from it. I’m human, and I don’t always get it right. None of us do,” she said.

“But by god, I’ve tried. I’ve given this job everything I have. And I hope you at home know that. I hope I brought you stories that matter and introduced you to people whose lives and experiences might otherwise never be told, and helped bring into focus issues that deserve our collective attention.”

Journalist and broadcaster, Tracey Spicer backed up Wilkinson’s words.

“Thinking of you,” Spicer tweeted. “Honestly, the sh*t that women in the public eye cop is completely over the top. Vicious and misogynistic.”

The response from viewers has also been mixed. Some supported Wilkinson stepping down from the show, while others said they were “devastated” by the loss.

“I am so devastated you are leaving The Project @Lisa_Wilkinson,” wrote one fan.

“You have been that journalist that is fearless, honest, relentless, and always exhibits genuine dignity and grace to whomever you interview. You will be missed.”

“#TheProjectTV was already unwatchable with Steve Price and Waleed and is now losing its best host in Lisa Wilkinson thanks to a toxic media campaign against her,” another tweet read.

Others were more critical.

“Lisa Wilkinson leaving The Project blames toxic media for her departure! This is the best news I’ve had all week! Lisa put herself in this mess, she is to blame! Bye,” one tweet read.

“Lisa Wilkinson leaving The Project, that is also on the nose along side Lisa, and she has the nerve to blame ‘media toxicity’ rather than her own bias and actions is just gold,” tweeted another viewer.

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