Humbled by honour
While I was chuffed to be made a Life Member of Bloke’s Lounge, and honoured to represent the Lounge and be recognised for my other community development interests as a Baton Carrier in the recent Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay, I was brought to tears when I received a letter from Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
Included was a certificate noting my appointment as an Honorary Member. It was awarded by my journalist peers to recognise my “long standing commitment to the profession and membership of the MEAA”, specifically the Australian Journalists’ Association.
It was journalism that turned my life around. I was a Year-12-failed young man who, at 21, was knocking around working as a retail shop assistant, labourer, KFC assistant manager and, at the time, was a floor hand/navvie at export meat wharf.
Flat life in those years was sharing digs with creatives, musos and wannabe hippies. It was a time ripe for sharing our talents, compositions, songs, poetry and - sadly not too often in my case - beds. I loved writing, spinning yarns and hearing other people’s life stories. I decided to improve my writing skills and placed an advert in Townsville Bulletin seeking a cadetship in journalism.
I was fortunate that the advert caught the eye of Charters Towers Northern Miner editor Harold “Headlines” Bligh, who gave me an interview and a week or so later offered me a job, the wage less than a third of what I was raking in on the wharf. I joined the AJA on March 19 1975. I resigned on May 18 just gone (including a stint with QPSU along the way).
Thrown into the deep water, I caught the wave and never looked back. I loved reporting, telling people’s stories and especially making newspapers from scratch. Nothing gave me so much satisfaction and fun. Gawd I miss it so, with newsrooms - and the crazy buggas who inhabit them - filling many a hour in my nighttime dreams.
I went from the Miner to various senior roles with The (Townsville) Advertiser, North Queensland Register, Townsville Bulletin, The Inverell Times, Queensland Farmer and, briefly before its demise, hack sub at the Sun in Brissie. I worked with - and met - some amazing, skilled and inspirational craftspeople and characters.
While on the House Committee in Townsville - during the unsettling time of transitioning to computers - we protested copy inputting tasks being asked of journos which took a role away from the printers, our AJA folks joining print room comps for - which we believe - was the first ever (and possibly only) AJA/PKIU joint-strike in Australia.
While editing The Inverell Times I won a few state awards, one against all comers including the metro dailies.
But no recognition means as much my MEAA Honorary Membership.
While I am sure many others have received such status, I am humbled. And grateful.
- July 2019