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Meet Derryn Hinch. He's met some of the movers and shakers of our world. Sometimes he's moved and even shaken some of them. Here he chats to gr about his new book, Human Headlines: My 50 Years in the Media.
What prompted you to share your experiences in a book?
In fifty years in the media you store a lot of memories. Not all of the inside material makes it into your published or broadcast stories. Some of the untold stories are fascinating. I thought they’d make a great book. Also my observations on people I had met over the years.
Your experiences in your career are wide and varied. How did you decide what you put into the book and what missed out?
I cut out 60,000 words but that was mainly about Hinch versus the Law. Contempt of Court, defamation, chequebook journalism. Those stories will probably make it in my next book which has the working title ‘How do you Plead? And that will include my recent High Court challenge which could still see me in jail.
You are both admired and criticised by many people, what would you like to say to both parties?
I used to joke that there was a $10,000 contract on my head – 40,000 people put in 25 cents each. It is flattering to be admired and I expect criticism. My opinions and some of the stands I have taken polarise people. But That’s Life.
Is there one specific moment in your substantial career which stands out above the rest?
That is so hard over five decades of watching the world. Being there when men went to the moon was awesome. Attending the funerals of Martin Luther King Jr and Bobby Kennedy within eight weeks was shattering. Raising $400,000 from listeners so I could charter a plane and take food and blankets to Ethiopia during the famine was inspiring and then to see 25,000 and know all would die was shattering.
What is it that drives you to practise the form of journalism that you do?
Not sure what is meant by ‘my form of journalism’. I am not a shock jock. I loathe the expression. I try to be as honest as I can and sometimes that means hurting people. Especially my credo that ‘all history owes the dead is the truth’.
You’ve worked in several mediums, from film and radio to print and television. Which did you find the most challenging?
Probably radio. You don’t get ‘dead air’ in print. And in television a silent pause while the camera waits for an answer is often more effective than filling the void. Also, you’d be surprised how little time newsreaders and current affairs hosts actually appear on screen in a daily program. On radio you are it.
Which did you enjoy the most?
Put it in the present tense, please. I am still working doing a daily Drive program on 3AW. I’m often asked this question. The honest answer: Which ever one I am doing now.
How has your illness affected your work and/or your drive to keep working?
My cancer hasn’t affected me at all. My senior producer said the other day that she forgets I am sick. So do I. I’m on an organ transplant list but it doesn’t consume me. I don’t think about it every day because there’s nothing I can do to hurry it. And I may not get one. I’m on no medication and my daily life hasn’t changed since I got the news I had only 12 months to live without a transplant. I love my work. I love the media. I’ve now embraced the new social media like Twitter [@HumanHeadline, what else?] and relish it.
Is there anything you regret doing – or not doing?
I don’t have regrets. I recently condensed the meaning of life into 79 characters for Twitter. It is: Inside every older person there is a young person saying what the bleep happened? I don’t believe that. I have had/ am having a great life. One thing I regret not doing is taking the job offered to me in 1978 to be one of the original three amigos on 60 Minutes with Ray Martin and George Negus. But if I had done that my new book would be competing with Ray’s. And he launched mine.
What should we expect next from Derryn Hinch?
More of the same on radio. Until I have to take leave for the big operation. Then I hope to get back on air within weeks broadcasting from home while I recuperate. I have a finished film script I am trying to flog in Hollywood and this month had a theatrical thrill: Four young actors sat in my living room for the first reading of a new musical I have written. To hear your written words come to life is fantastic. We hope to stage it in December 2011. What else should you expect? Well, the slogan for the old HINCH TV show was Expect the Unexpected.
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