Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Australia in the world: An interview with journalist Hamish McDonald

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Walkley-award winning journalist Hamish McDonald speaks to Branko Miletic about the state of journalism, his career and geopolitics in the Asia-Pacific.BORN IN MELBOURNE in 1948 to parents he describes as being of Scottish stock, Walkley-award winning journalist Hamish McDonald survived a rugby-mad Presbyterian private boys school and eventually got addicted to newspapers and magazines while studying government and political science at Sydney University.One of his early tutors, Peter King, said one of his essays on Vietnam read like a magazine piece. So he applied for a cadetship at the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and by delivering a sample his of writing overnight, got one, which was followed by a long apprenticeship, covering local courts, sports, immersion in trades hall and politics.Branko Miletic for Independent Australia: “What type of reporting do you prefer: news or features and what is it that you find most appealing?”Hamish McDonald: “Entering and coming to understand other cultures. After six years with the SMH, I sold our VW and collected accrued holiday pay and went to Jakarta as a freelancer in 1975 with my first wife and our first child, who was then two.”He continued:IA: “Your interest in Indonesia also goes back decades – why is this country so important to Australia, in your opinion?”IA: “In 2005 you won a Walkley Award for your article: “What’s Wrong With Falun Gong”, about the brutal suppression of the Falun Gong religious movement in China. Are there parallels with how the Chinese leadership reacted to the Falun Gong and the Coronavirus outbreak in terms of mishandling and over-reacting?”IA: “Last year you published Reasonable Doubt, a book about the now-infamous Croatian Six court case. What prompted you to diverge from your almost exclusive Asian focus and what did the research teach you about both the Australian justice system?”IA: “You have now made a couple of trips to the Pacific region, specifically to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. What is it that fascinates you about this region and what have you seen there that both inspires and frightens you?”IA: “What are your views on the state of journalism and more widely, political discourse in this country and what does it say about how far we’ve come and where we are going as a nation?”Branko Miletic is a journalist, editor, historian and author who has written extensively on the wars in the Balkans and post-Yugoslavia politics for the past 20 years. You can follow Branko on Twitter @journovox9.

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