The death of former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has prompted memories of one my most embarrassing career moments. I was a journalist with the Kalgoorlie Miner in the late 70’s when the Prime Minister made a visit and I, along with a local ABC journalist were given the opportunty to attend a press conference in his hotel room.
My ABC colleague and I were awestruck by the event, and the large contingent of journalists who were travelling with him who were lined up around the room. The journalists were told they were to give the two local journalists the opportunity to participate in the interview.
My first impression of the Prime Minister was of a tall and very imposing figure, but what followed was the realisation that I couldn’t keep up with a man who spoke quickly and with great detail. Using some shorthand and my own abbreviated version of longhand I desperately tried to make notes of the interview, but knew I was struggling to keep up.
When I got back to the office, the editor asked how I had gone and I responded confidently, but when it came to reading back my notes I realised I would be struggling to write a story that adequately reflected the interview I had just attended. I quickly went to visit my colleague at the ABC – who was similarly overwhelmed by the event – to compare notes before placing my completed story on the editor’s desk.
What could have been one of the highlights of my career had turned into one of my most embarrassing moments. That night the Kalgoorlie Miner went to bed with a local story about the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Fraser, but the local journalist who wrote the story wasn’t confident he had come up with his best piece of work.