Thank you for the privilege

We believe hard news and beautiful writing have a place

AS I sit to write this column, I'm reflecting on this month 20 years ago.

It was in July, 1994, that I started as a green cadet journalist with the Bendigo Advertiser - straight from high school, with raging fire in my belly and a dream to write.

It's fair to say those first few years weren't quite what I had in mind, with the first 12 months of my journalism dream focusing solely on horse racing and greyhounds - neither of which I knew anything about.

But from 4pm until midnight, five days a week, my job was to compile the results from every local, state and national race meet of interest to our readers.

Boring? You bet. But did I learn? Absolutely. Slowly, I began to understand the computer system designed specifically for newspapers - and in my down time, the more experienced sub editors would teach me page design. Soon, I was creating pages, and then progressed to subbing copy and putting headlines on stories. Those skills then took me on to day roles, designing and subbing pages that could be done during the day, and then ultimately into reporting rounds.

There were certainly days during those first few years I wondered if I would ever realise my dream - but without those years, perhaps I may not have. I learnt so much from older, wiser journos who really knew their stuff. It was such a gift to me that they invested the time to pass on their skills.

As a result, I've spent 20 years doing a job I love - a job where no day is the same as another, no story is the same.

Last year I wrote: journalists believe in truth. We believe in fairness, accountability and asking questions that need to be asked.

We believe in accurate reporting, bringing the news to our readers to keep them informed.

We acknowledge that most of us are striving to uphold our ethics and remain true to our craft. We believe in telling the good and the bad.

We believe hard news and beautiful writing have a place.

We know our role as story-tellers comes with a great deal of trust and privilege.

It is a gift to tell someone’s story, to be trusted with the pieces of someone’s life and given the task to share that with others.

We are not counsellors, but are often exposed to stories that are truly hard to hear. We are not immune to pain.

Nor are we scared to laugh, be silly and enjoy the journey of others who are willing to share.

We are human and often exposed to trauma just to keep our audience informed.

But we know and respect the fact it is an honour to write history. An individual’s history, that of an organisation or importantly, the city’s.

It is a privilege each and every day to write not only for our newspaper readers, but our online global audience.

Twenty years ago this month I wanted to be a journalist because I believed all of that to be true. All these years on, that has not changed.

To every person who has trusted me with their story, thank you. Journalists can only do what we do because of you. We are privileged to be the story tellers.

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