It began with AFL. I’d gone down to Melbourne thinking that I should know a little bit more about the state’s religion but had not put in the time. Then, my very first task at The Age was to write a story about a glitch on one of the ticketing websites ahead of the final between Geelong and Fremantle. I spelt the latter “Freemantle” I realised soon after submitting the piece, a mistake no Victorian would make.
But after the first few days in the newsroom I began to find more feet. I wrote stories on hay fever, the 30th birthday of a zoo, and the conversion of underground toilets into trendy things like cafes, barbershops and apartments. This last story appeared on the front page of the iPad edition under the headline “Would you live in a loo?”
After this I was jokingly referred to as The Age’s loo correspondent.
Everyone at the paper was very friendly and helpful. The state news editor would regularly send me ideas to pursue and was always willing to listen to a pitch. I found it interesting that the thrice-daily news conferences were conducted in the middle of the newsroom. So too were the conference phone calls with Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth, as editors around the country organised their syndicated copy. A big bell was rung in the office to signal when various people had to join the meeting.
On Saturday, September 7, I joined the election team – to write story about a big sausage sizzle. When I got there the sun was shining, children were laughing and dispensing brownies while parents toiled at the barbecue. But by the time the photographer arrived it was raining, the barbecues had been moved under cover and there were no customers around.
It reinforced the idea that photography, like journalism, is all about being in the right spot at the right time.