Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I became a journalist in the late 1970s after my appetite for news was whetted while working as a news typist for ABC radio.
I did a course on reporting for news with lecturer Keith Windschuttle at the Institute of Technology, Sydney.
He said an article I wrote about working in the ABC newsroom was one of the best he had seen about the subject of work.
I then managed to get an entry position with a fortnightly trade journal, Advertising News, published by Yaffa Publishing at Surry Hills, Sydney.
Two and a half years later I made the quantum leap to advertising, marketing and media roundsperson for the Australian Financial Review newspaper.
There I had to fill between three and five pages every Tuesday, plus have a story published on each of the other four days of the week.
Journalists at the Fin Review were still using typewriters when I started there.
The cacaphony of pounding keyboards at every 6pm deadline meant I was constantly having to go to the doctor to have my ears cleaned out.
They kept filling with wax to protect my sensitive eardrums from the constant deafening sound.
I then became one of the first to use the new computer system which was not pleasant.
It had a propensity to crash just when I was half-way through typing a long article.
The only warning was a horn and then the green light on the ceiling would turn to red.
Once the screen was locked, there was no way of saving the article.
For a while I was considering buying a Polaroid camera so I could take a photo of what I had written from my notes, and not have to compose it all again.
My editors at the Fin Review were Max Walsh and then the late P.P. (Paddy) McGuinness.
And my predecessors who made the advertising round highly regarded within the industry were Deborah Light and Valerie Lawson.
The Fin Review staff was small enough to get to know everyone, unlike that of the bigger paper, The Sydney Morning Herald.
And looking back, it was nice working for a family-owned company, and being part of the original Fairfax publishing empire.
I remember being given a copy of the history of Fairfax, Company of Heralds, when I was there but it was lost during my many moves of house.
Later I borrowed it from a library and read it from cover to cover.
As I have grown older, I have gravitated towards Australian history, both local and family.
The detective work involved, the thrill of the chase, is similar to that of journalism and takes me on many twists and turns.
I currently have around a dozen blogs on this subject including Mawbey Family Australia and Jimmy Governor Forensic, with more to come.
The words 'more to come' had to be written on the bottom of every small cream sheet of typed copy paper before the final 'ends' on the last page.