In an exclusive interview with The Bottom Line (Saturday 20 July at 4:00pm on Channel
Nine) veteran Australian journalist, George Negus joins host and CPA Australia Chief
Executive, Alex Malley, to talk about his extraordinary journalistic career.
In this inspiring tell-all, Negus reveals that he didn’t set out to obtain the ‘celebrity’ status
journalists now aspire to achieve, rather it accidently attached itself to him.
“They forgot to tell me that I had to do anything other than be myself on television and so
that’s all I ever did,” says Negus.
Making the switch from teacher to reporter, at 29, Negus’ journalism career kicked off
working for the ABC’s This Day Tonight program emerging in what Negus refers to as a
revolutionary time for Australia’s social change under the Whitlam government.
“I don’t think people realise how many social changes occurred in those strange three years
between 1972 and 1975 that they take for granted…
“[The Whitlam government] were economic morons and social literates and I think I could
almost reverse that equation right now and say the current government are social illiterates
and economic morons,” says Negus.
“I learnt a lot about politics from the inside and it politicised me. My own background
politicised me to start with… I have never been a member of a political party, I don’t think I
could handle that sort of straight jacket, I’d rather sit on the sideline chucking rocks.”
Negus’ ‘rock chucking’ ultimately cost him his position at the ABC but gained him his career
defining role with Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes – headhunted by Australia’s media mogul,
“I wouldn’t have imagined when I had my blue at the ABC in 1975 that I would get a call
from the head of Channel Nine saying do you like to travel because we’ve got this new
program we’d like you to work on, so I said yes. I mean why wouldn’t you?” said Negus.
“We had a relationship with the ownership and the management that I don’t think other
people have been lucky enough to have and you can talk back when you’re going well – It’s
bums on seats and even if Packer didn’t like what we were saying and doing, the bums are
on the seats,” Negus says.
Reflecting on the saturated nature of the journalism landscape today, Negus says the
opportunities that shaped his diverse career are now extinct as a result of the changes in
technology and access to information.
“One of the toughest calls for a communicator publicly like myself is to say anything
negative about IT. You’re immediately branded as a fossil, a dinosaur,” says Negus.
“Somebody needs to be at least sceptical about the internet. There are good things about it,
like the computerisation of our society, and some really awful things. Just having a lot of
information doesn’t mean to say we’ve got more wisdom,” reflects Negus.
George Negus shares his insights with Alex Malley on The Bottom Line – airing Saturday
20 July at 4:00pm on Channel Nine.
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George Negus on The Bottom Line is Episode 23 in a 24 episode series.
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