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Politics with Michelle Grattan: Geoff Kitney on a life in journalism and the contemporary media landscape

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Geoff Kitney on a life in journalism and the contemporary media landscape.

Geoff Kitney fell into a career in journalism, and rose from reporting the local footy in Western Australia to covering many of federal politics’s biggest stories and serving as a foreign correspondent based in Berlin and London.

Arriving at parliament house in 1975, Kitney reported on the dramatic Dismissal. Later, the relative decorum of the Canberra press gallery contrasted with the danger and adventure of war reporting.

During the Kosovo war, he was sent to Belgrade, travelling there in a bus with a crowd of Serbians.

“It was very, very strange bus trip because we’d passed houses with MiG fighters parked in the driveways … [Slobodan Milošević] was trying to stop NATO destroying his airforce. So he put the MiG fighters next to people’s houses so that they wouldn’t hit them, which meant that he couldn’t use them, but at least he still had them.”

In Kitney’s new book, Beyond the Newsroom, based around his decades of reporting and analysis, he also has some sharp observations about what’s happened to the media.

“Advertising started shifting to social media. Newspaper budgets got tighter and tighter. Staff started being cut. We’ve now had years of redundancies.”

“We had specialist reporters covering all sorts of issues, digging down, getting out into the bureaucracy … finding what’s really going on. Now …there aren’t enough people to do that.”

“And the pressure, for Twitter for example, is to be noticed. And it seems to me that people think the best way to get noticed, and probably this is true, is to have strong opinions that people react to. And so opinion becomes more important than actual information.”

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Additional audio

A List of Ways to Die, Lee Rosevere, from Free Music Archive.

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