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Journalism leaders must help newcomers get their foot in the door

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I’ve always believed the strength of our democracy is principally founded on the quality of our journalism and the pursuit of truth. Great journalism gives a voice to the voiceless and is the watchdog of society. It’s been a mantra since I started as a rookie news reporter at NBN3 in Newcastle in the early 1980s and throughout a career as a producer for many current affairs programs, including 60 Minutes, Sunday and Witness with Jana Wendt.

Fortunately, I grew up in a household where we discussed the state of the world: apartheid, Nixon and Watergate, the ethics of test tube babies. My father was like a wise old owl. ‘Why do you think they are doing that?’ Then, ‘If in doubt, follow the money,’ he’d advise, trying to get me to understand people’s deeper motivations. ‘What is the rationale behind you saying that?’ was another question he would regularly ask, to help me learn to think critically about the world. It was these many conversations with my father which led me on the path to journalism.

He was the first in a number of influential role models who backed me in the early days. The doyen of current affairs Peter Meakin was another. I had been supervising producer at Today and Meakin knew my skills through this role. Meakin and the legendary journalist Ian Frykberg ensured I got the proverbial ‘foot in the door’ as a producer at 60 Minutes when it was the highest rating and most coveted show........

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