I had been at my new job as graduate journalist for the Burdekin Advocate in Ayr when I was handed my first opportunity at a front page Townsville Bulletin story.
The excitement was ringing through Ayr last Friday after a local won $23 million in the $70 million Gold Lotto jackpot the night before. Being a small town, word quickly got out as to who people believed had won the money.
I was the only journalist working that day with even my editor away from his desk. The Townsville, who we work very closely with, quickly got in touch with me saying they wanted a front page story. It was my job to try and find the person who had won the money and more importantly, see if they would be interviewed!
So off went the chase. It lasted until about 10pm that night, going back and forth between locals who appeared to be passing the bucket around to someone else. No one was willing to come forward and claim they were the winners. I desperately wanted this front page story but time was running out and I soon realised I wasn’t any closer to finding out the real winner, let alone getting an exclusive interview.
I must say I was disappointed in myself to begin with, until the chief-of-staff in Townsville rang to congratulate me on the story I had got. She said that sometimes these things can’t be helped, but there was a still a story in it and it still got published front page.
I learnt some a very impotent lesson that day. Never give up. Even if you don’t get the story you were after, keep on pursuing as much as you can. It’s better to know you did what you could rather than knowing you did nothing at all.