THE FOURTH ESTATE:
Jobs in mainstream journalism are hard enough to come by as is, so nailing that promotion interview is crucial for any scribe wanting to get to the very top.
Luckily, the transcript of one such recent interview has lobbed at The Bug’s front desk – and media industry old hands and academics say it’s the perfect blueprint on how to succeed at that perhaps once-in-a-lifetime chance for promotion to the editor’s chair.
Below is the transcript of what transpired when Chris Jones flew up to Sydney late last year from the Hobart Mercury to make his pitch for the vacant editor’s chair at The Courier Mail in Brisbane.
And the man he had to impress: News Corp Australia executive chairman Michael Miller.
Miller: Ah, there you are. Come in and take a seat.
Jones: Thank you, Mr Miller.
Miller: Please, no need for such formalities. Sir will suffice. So, Chris, we’re interviewing quite a few people for this post. All top-shelf applicants. Cutting to the chase, then, exactly how much do you hate the Labor Party, trade unions and working class people generally?
Jones: How much time have you got?
Miller: Excellent. When can you start?
Jones: That’s it? I’ve got the job?
Miller: Yes, I think you’re up to it. But you do know you’ve got some big shoes to fill up there at Bowen Hills? There have been some great editors over recent times; Lachlan Heywood, David Fagan, Christopher Dore, Sam Weir ….. Des Houghton…
Both men laugh loudly.
Miller: Do you know that by the state election on October 31, Labor will have been in power in Queensland for 24 of the past 30 years?
Jones: That’s terrible. No wonder the state is basically an economic cot case. How on earth did that happen?
Miller: Fairer electoral boundaries … but that’s not important right now. What I want to know is how you plan as editor of The Courier-Mail to put an end to this and install a LNP government to restore good strong stable government to the Sunshine State?
Jones: It will have to be unrelenting. Barely disguised but frequent front-page editorials lambasting Palaszczuk as the Polish princess who has lost the plot. A government gone stale after too long in power. Stupid ministers making even stupider decisions in panic. That sort of thing. Page after page of election news heavily slanted to the LNP. If on any given day, Labor comes out with a policy, we need to run with the LNP’s vicious response to it. We’ll need to attack Labor’s record on just about every front: education, health, the environment including its shameful, wishy-washy approach to the excellent Adani mine project…. all wrapped around a Time’s Up theme. Screamer headlines like WE NEED DEB! and A LITTLE DEB WILL DO US! We’ll need to exploit the fact that Deb Frecklington is a fresh, pretty new face who dresses well and represents the future as Queensland emerges from Covid-19, while poor old Anna Palaszczuk … well, really, what can you say? Plain, frumpy and childless jump straight to mind. I mean, really, she’s probably not a bad person deep down but she’s got the charisma of a squashed cane toad. We’ll need to run regular creampuff pieces on the incoming LNP ministers and the overall amazing talent on their front bench. Heck, we’ll even come up with a colour piece that makes Jarred Bleijie sound harmless if not particularly interesting. The whole approach will all have to be terribly biased, totally unprofessional, unethical and against every basic tenant of quality journalism but….
Miller: That’s fine. Renee can swing across from federal politics and give Steve a hand but what about the months ahead leading up to the actual election campaign in October?
Jones: That’s the period I’m talking about. When the election proper starts in late September we’re just going to have to up the ante to full scorched-earth mode. We simply can’t afford to have Labor running Queensland for 28 of the past 34 years. That would be unthinkable and give voters in other parts of Australia silly ideas.