My break… Hamish Macdonald

S6_Hamish-MacDonald_16159Ten network journalist Hamish Macdonald who will today appear in Mumbrella’s Google Hangout, on getting his start in the industry, in a piece that first featured in Encore. 

How did you get into journalism?

I studied at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst.

What was your big break?

I don’t think there was any single ‘big break’ moment, but when I first moved to the UK after leaving university, I was desperate to land work in a national TV newsroom. I tried every broadcaster – Sky, BBC, ITV and finally got through to Channel 4 News by ringing reception. My first shift there changed everything. I realised I had found my journalistic home and I never looked back. Channel 4 News is an award-winning, exciting, robust news service with a serious agenda. I learnt everything I know about television journalism in that newsroom from some of the very best people in the business. I’ll be forever grateful.

What changed after your break?

I knew from working at Channel 4 that I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. The foreign team were the ones who got the most exciting stories. I enjoyed going for lunch with them when they were back in London between assignments. It was always an incredible window on to the world hearing their tales of adventure.

I was studying Indonesian at night school in London when Al Jazeera began preparing for the launch of its English language news service. They wanted people with language skills, so I jumped on board as an Asia-based correspondent. It was the start of a very exciting adventure.

What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

I wish I knew back then that it isn’t as scary as it looks. I was terrified of even opening my mouth in editorial meetings back in the early days at Channel 4. I was scared I’d say something stupid. These days, I know it’s best to speak up and ask the question no matter how stupid it may seem – it’s probably the same thing everyone else in the room wants to know.

Is it harder or easier for people to break into the industry today?

There are so many more media outlets today that in many ways it is easier to get in. However, with so much choice, it can be difficult to narrow your options.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

Internships. Do as many as you can, for as long as you can. There is no substitute for experience. It is far more valuable to get a good stint of quality unpaid work than spend a long period being paid to do work you’re not interested in. Get a pub job in the evening like I did and fund yourself through internships. You’ll never regret it.

Hamish Macdonald’s show The Truth Is? launches June 3 on Ten.

Encore Issue 15This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.


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