Olle Scholars

“OMG, I was in a meeting the other week, and I realised I was one of the ‘older people’ in the room”, I told a colleague earlier tonight. “I was no longer ‘the bright young thing’. I was now the ‘older senior advisor'”, I added. “The same thing is happening in my family”, I told him. One day you’re “on your way up” and wondering where you’re next career move will be; the next day you’re thinking “retirement and superannuation”. One day you’re looking to older family members for advice, the next day younger family members are looking to you for advice. How did this happen?

I went to the Andrew Olle Media Lecture tonight, and was, once again (to my privilege) seated with the recipient(s) of the Andrew Olle Scolarship. It’s an internal ABC thing, where journalists “on the way up” are granted a one year scholarship to pursue their career dreams which may include periods working on programs like Four Corners, or even in a foreign bureau. Previous recipients have included people like Nick McKenzie, Brigid Glanville, Conor Duffy, James Glenday, and many people other you now hear on the radio, see on your television, or read in your newspaper. I feel privileged to have been on a number of panels who have chosen the recipients.

Tonight, this year’s co-recipients, Marty McCarthy and Bridget Brennan (pictured), along with last year’s recipient Elise Worthington, sat on our table. They’re all seriously impressive young people who will, undoubtedly, go on to fame and success either on your radio/tv/online, or behind the scenes. They’re all super-intelligent, and they’re on the way up, so keep your ears/eyes out for them.

On the eve of my fif… fiff….fiftieth birthday, and almost twenty years since Andrew Olle died (weeks away), it’s great to know there are lots of journalists coming up through the ranks who are passionate and engaged, and for whom journalism is not simply a case of “filling the whiteboard” (as we often say in media circles) with “somebody else’s PR fluff”.

Tonight’s Andrew Olle Media Lecture was given by Helen McCabe, current editor of “The Australian Women’s Weekly”. In her speech, she took aim at the NSW legislation which prevents media reports which identify children who have been abused or even killed. She said in her speech…

As Caroline Overington said in a 2009 speech: “When a child dies in NSW, you can’t name the parents. You can’t name the siblings. You can’t use any photographs. You can’t give away the address. You can’t say anything that would identify the child, even if the child is dead.” So if Luke Batty had died in NSW, we could not publish his name or photograph. We could not name Rosie Batty. All the important work she has done over the past 12 months would have been done anonymously or, as is more likely, wouldn’t have been done at all. Look, I don’t have the answers. And I am all for protecting children who are already victims, but the NSW laws, in particular, are crazy. Pixelated faces and redacted names are significant barriers to storytelling.

I wonder what the young journalists of today will be grappling with in twenty years time?

“When we’re demented and in nursing homes, these will be the young people running the place”, I whispered in the ear of my similarly-aged colleague tonight :)

And best of all is I’ll get to hang out with these young, inspiring people a little more in the next few months because… because… drum roll… our table won the lucky door prize: dinner for us all at Aria.

Double happiness.

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