Yesterday’s draft was acceptable to my editors. This morning I ran it by Mark Willacy himself and got some additional material and updates. He is now with The 7.30 Report*.
In conversation last year with Richard Fidler on Local ABC Queensland the following emerged:
Generally, those reporting on Middle East conflicts are encumbered with accusations of bias. Mark explains to Richard how he approached his assignments. He says, “I think what I’ve tried to do is show the impact of conflict on non-combatants, people who are drawn into the conflict. Whether it’s an Israeli going to work on a bus, or a Palestinian child on his way to school who gets hurt or killed for just doing what they’re doing. It’s something I’ve always tried to do is humanise this story, because people hear and their eyes glaze over and they think, ‘here we go more misery from the middle east’, and that’s a fair reaction so what you have to do is humanise the story.”
The most recent Iraq War is one stint Mark will certainly not forget. Providing an insight into the coverage, Mark says, “Just before the war we were pulled out by the ABC, because there were great threats that they felt were genuine that we were going to be strapped on the front of tanks by Saddam’s men or there were chemical weapons employed. So we flew out to Oman and then Kuwait, we covered a bit of the scud missile activity down there, in fact we were so tired one day that a scud missile hit the building next door and I just rolled over and went back to sleep. I didn’t even get to report on it, I was that tired. We jumped on a warship in the Persian Gulf, then we went back into Iraq and it was hard to cover. The Americans were moving very very quickly, and history tells us they were moving so quickly that their supply lines couldn’t keep up at times. But I’m glad we covered it the way we covered it. We stayed with the ordinary Iraqis… in the end Louis (the cameraman) and I did 93 days, which was the record for the ABC.”
You will have to wait a few weeks before you can read my story. See also Busy Redfern morning.
* Mark Willacy did a beautiful story on The 7.30 Report tonight: Troubled teens on a journey of self-discovery.
Like so many other remote Indigenous communities, Hopevale, north of Cairns, is beset by drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and family breakdown. But now, Hopevale’s elders are trying to break that tragic cycle, with the aid of a Good Samaritan who sailed more than 3,000 kilometres to take a group of young people on a voyage of self-discovery.
He had mentioned this this morning.