Why we lived and still breathe journalism

Communications, Cannings Purple, Media Intelligence, Media Relations, Media Training

Peter Klinger 9 Nov 2022
3 mins
Collage of newspaper clippings from CP journalists

Walter Cronkite, the late famed CBS TV anchor once regarded as the most trusted man in America, described journalism as “what we need to make democracy work” while 19th century English poet and cultural critic Matthew Arnold said it was “literature in a hurry”.

For all of us, journalism is an important part of daily life.

For many of us at Cannings Purple, it is a former career that – to this day – remains more than just a fond memory.

Not surprisingly, the way we approach strategic communications on behalf of clients is based on our experiences working in the fourth estate.

And it is an experience that covers the full spectrum of any daily newspaper or broadcast news bulletin.

Ray Jordan spent almost a lifetime in daily journalism working almost every job possible at The West Australian. His time was back in the days of interstate news bureaus, after-midnight deadlines and telex machines. What internet, he still grumbles.

So when a plane crashed in Sydney or British comedian Spike Milligan ditched a formal interview in favour of a chat over dinner, news happened when news was printed.

One of the thrills of journalism is the people you meet – rich and famous, poor and inspirational, humble and incredible, surreal or not even real – and the stories you get to tell your audience.

Just take Agro – fancy interviewing a puppet, which became Ruth Callaghan’s first celebrity interview.

They say Red Bull gives you wings. Well, Red Bull lent Peter Klinger a set of wings to get to Salzburg in time to interview the billionaire founder of the energy drink.

And Chris Leitch would’ve wished for a set of wings when Australian basketball legend and man mountain Andrew Vlahov made a beeline for him in Darwin to share a few home truths.

We appreciate, of course, that journalism is not just about the obvious front page or interviews with big-name personalities.

Securing a scoop can be not just hard work but a draining experience, as Carina Tan-Van Baren recalls from the days she beat the Federal Treasurer to a Budget break.

Often it is mundane work, hard labour, a focus on detail and uncomfortable face-to-face confrontations that deliver the important news.

And that is not to mention compulsory shorthand sessions and obligatory stints working the night police round, ears glued to the police scanner.

Wendy Pryer remembers covering the Court Government’s overhaul of industrial relations reform in Western Australia. It pitted a Liberal government against the collective might of the union movement. Wendy realised she was doing a good job when both sides accused her of bias.

And thank God for the police scanner. How else would Jean Perkins have found out about Rose Porteous, late-night avocado smoothies and a group of burglars.

And late at night, facts still matter as Fran Lawrence discovered when a traffic crash in Northbridge left a young man critically injured, but not dead. Luckily the late-night scramble to meet the second edition deadline did not prematurely consign the young man to the history books.

But journalism is not all beer and skittles, as Peter Kermode remembers when, as a young reporter working in Sydney, he found himself locked out of the office and without his house keys when a union strike over pay came into effect rather quickly.

The Cannings Purple team is too embarrassed to add up the years we collectively spent plying the journalism craft.

But our passion and support for the next generation of news breakers, story tellers and media work horses remain strong, which is why Cannings Purple is proud to again sponsor the Eaves-Prior-Day Prize, awarded to the best new journalist or cadet at the WA Media Awards on Saturday night.

Good luck to finalists Keane Bourke (ABC), Elyce Holden (GWN7 News) and Indigo Lemay-Conway (PerthNow) – it is great to again see such a strong field of emerging talent in the world of journalism.


Peter Klinger More from author

Peter has extensive media experience across all industry sectors and well-developed media relationships across Australia. A highly-skilled communicator and communications strategist, Peter has a proven track record of devising communication strategies and writing high-quality reports, thought leadership pieces and mission/values statements. In the past year, Peter has devised communication strategies for $1 billion worth of corporate transactions involving ASX-listed companies.

Peter boasts more than 20 years’ experience in daily financial journalism, accrued across titles including The West Australian, The Times (London) and Australian Financial Review.

Peter’s exceptional writing skills allow him to accurately and appropriately capture clients’ needs, whether it be crafting opinion pieces, drafting ASX announcements or preparing and executing a strategic communications plan. As Peter best understands, it takes a finely crafted message to cut through all the noise in the marketplace.

Peter has always had a passion for writing — from keeping holiday diaries to editing his high school journal — so it was a no-brainer for him to pursue a career in journalism that, post-university, began at the century-old daily newspaper, Kalgoorlie Miner. Outside of work and apart from his family, Peter is a member of a multi-premiership winning team of life-long hockey players whose skills seem to improve with every post-match beer.

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