This Week So Far

The journalist, Monica Attard told a fabulous story, seeking to illustrate the generational difference in media consumption. She was speaking at a lunch-time discussion I attended yesterday, organised by the “Affinity” cultural organisation, which seeks to create a better interfaith, multi-cultural discussion in Australia, between Muslim and non-Muslim people.

She was talking about how 7.30’s Leigh Sales has been a long-term family friend. It seems her twenty year old son knew nothing of Leigh’s television career, until walking past the television one night, when he stopped, paused, and said “What’s Leigh doing on TV”? The anecdote got a big laugh, by highlighting the fact lots of younger people simply don’t consume linear, free to air television.

Also involved in the discussion was Peter Fray, a former editor of a number of Nine/Fairfax newspapers, but now lecturing, like Monica, at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Peter Fray and Monica Attard speaking at Tuesday’s Affinity lunchtime discussion about modern journalism.

Monica also mentioned that a big issue in teaching journalism students, these days, was helping them better distinguish between the different roles of fact-based journalism and opinion. “They’ve grown up with opinion-based journalism”, she noted, whereas that wasn’t the case for those of us who are older.

From the audience there was a question about the “click-based” nature of journalism these days, highlighting the tensions of the modern journalism. Though I don’t recall the source of the quote, Peter Fray mentioned someone recently saying “If no one clicks on your story, did you really write it?”. It provoked memories of that line, “If a tree falls in the forest..”

The discussion also got around to the recent AFP media raids, with Peter Fray, noting there are lots of other government departments which also have powers which impact on the freedom of the media.

And is Julian Assange a journalist? Monica said yes. Peter said no. Personally, I don’t think he’s a “journalist”, because he doesn’t “sift through”/edit the information to help people better understand what’s going on/the narrative, but I do think he’s a “publisher” and a significant figure, nonetheless. Oh, and he’s a lad from near Lismore, my home town in Northern NSW. A friend’s father taught him in primary school!

In the midst of my busy job working in the media, it was awesome to take a few minutes out of my day for some “deeper thinking”.

In fact, the last few days have involved some really interesting work-related moments, which I thought I’d share, because they’re of broader interest.

Military Tattoo

Monday started early with a media briefing about the forthcoming Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Sydney, which the ABC will broadcast.

I learned this will be largest Edinburgh Military Tattoo ever staged, with participants from fourteen countries, including a large component from the Pacific. I learned there’ll be a significant cultural element, including a re-imaging of the Indigenous “Welcome To Country”. Though it’s been on my radar for a number of years, I’ve never really had much of an interest in actually attending one of these events. I might just go along.

Another awesome thing about attending this briefing was catching up with a former colleague, Tritia who now works for the Defence Force in public relations. It was so great to see her.

Swimming Pools

And then on Monday night, I went to a preview screening of a forthcoming ABC documentary called “The Pool”. It’s a beautifully filmed, thoughtful exploration of the importance of the swimming pool in Australian culture.

ABC Commissioning Editor, Jo Chichester; Director, Sally Aitken; and ABC Director Regional and Local, Judith Whelan, at Monday’s preview of The Pool.

As I watched the film, I thought about some of the awesome swimming pool memories from my own life, and they are here below. The program screens on ABC TV on Sunday at 7.40pm on September 22 and 29.

Lismore Baths: The place where I learned to swim. Does anyone remember the awesome instructor Mr Oag?

South Lismore Lake Pool: No longer with us, but lots of fond memories of swimming there during primary and high school.

Hibiscus Pool: Visiting family in Brisbane, and spending many hours there during my time in university.

Lightning Ridge Bore Baths: Living in Western NSW, I remember going there on a cold winter’s night, enjoying the forty-degree artesian waters for the first time.

Narrandera Pool: Travelling between South Australia and New South Wales, I would always make a stop at Narrandera, to wake up and refresh before or after that long trip across the Hay Plain.

Wagga River: Though not strictly a “swimming pool” swimming in the Murrumbidgee, and taking part in the “Gummy Race” has wonderful memories.

European Pools: Forsgrénskabadet in Stockholm was my first experience of an indoor pool.

Föreningen Saltsjöbadens Friluftsbad in Stockholm was my first experience of skinny dipping in an old fashioned timber pool.

Lifeguards patrol The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon was my first experience swimming in warm waters in Iceland.

Cook & Phillip Pool: My local pool in Sydney

Looking Ahead

Despite all this work activity, I’m having today off. In fact, I’m having every Wednesday off for the next few months. I’m in “excess leave” and need to bring my leave allocation back to within “normal levels”. “Should I take a few weeks off?”, I thought to myself when alerted to the issue. In preference I decided to take Wednesday’s off. It’s an awesome opportunity to catch up on life (doing the things during the week I don’t normally have time to do during the working week). I’ve been going out for lunch, I’ve been going for a swim. I’ve also been taking some work-related phone calls, but hey… that’s okay, I guess. Mostly, though, it’s nice to have a bit of a mental break.

Looking ahead, I’m planning a brief trip to Wagga Wagga, this weekend. Living in Wagga from 1991 to 1995 has lots of fond memories for me. For the first time in seventeen years (Chris Jones’ funeral) I’m making a trip back to Wagga this weekend. It’ll only be a short trip, and I’m unlikely to venture outside the levy bank, but I’ll be fascinated to see how things have remained the same/changed. Is the great Indian restaurant in the arcade in Baylis Street still there?

Where do I go for a drink now that Number 96 has closed? Number 96? Yes, we had a bar called Number 96, located right next to the ABC. Discovering this online quote, I sent it to a few former colleagues. We all had a laugh out loud moment, noting that our patronage had been recorded in print.

Though I’m probably too old, I’m wondering if Choices and Cocos still operate?

2 responses to “This Week So Far”

  1. Andrew Avatar

    Speaking of Number 96, it was recently an anniversary, 50th?, since the bomb when off. You have to be of a certain age.

    My sister campaigned long and hard to save the local swimming pool where she grew up when it was to be closed and she was successful. Money was spent on modernising the pool and it now does well.

  2. James O'Brien Avatar

    I AM of a certain age, and have many fond memories of Number 96.

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