Tuesday, 24 November 2015

So the ABC's presenter Kerry O'Brien

is "moving on to other things" is he? 
For Upoverites I must explain, Kerry O'Brien has been a fixture at the ABC (the Downunder equivalent of the BBC) for many years. He presented Lateline and went on to be the editor of the 7:30 Report and has been hosting Four Corners since 2011. He's seventy. 
I doubt he is ready to "retire". He wields too much influence for that - six Walkley Awards tend to give people influence. His other major media contribution has been political commentary and interviewing at election time. He used to be Press Secretary to a former Prime Minister - the late Gough Whitlam.
O'Brien, like a number of other ABC journalists - think of people like Maxine McKew and Leigh Sales - makes no secret of his left wing sympathies. One of his parting acts has been to help ensure the downfall of the previous Prime Minister.
He is generally viewed as an outstandingly good journalist. Perhaps he is. I have never met him but I have little difficulty in imagining the sort of reception I would get. I doubt he would bother to say more than "hello" - if that.
There are journalists who use other people to further their own careers, who see themselves as the teller of the story and see their own actions as being important. They use "facts" to try and influence people. They don't mind ignoring, twisting, abusing and otherwise mangling facts in order to make something sound sensational. "Selling" and "acting" a story is important to them. They are out to mix with the main players.
There are other journalists who see the story as important and the way they tell it as important too. They will try to use the facts in ways which will help people understand the implications as well as the reality of what is going on. They see every person they meet as a potential story.
The former journalists usually go far. The latter don't get far - although some of them may end up writing scholarly books.
I think I prefer the latter sort of journalist. I learn more from them. I won't regret the departure of Kerry O'Brien. I am just wondering who will replace him. I suspect it will be more of the same.

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