Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Even ‘God’ made mistakes

By John Mikkelsen - posted Tuesday, 19 March 2024

Recently, I recounted how, as a young journalist in the Swinging Sixties, I had been ordered to drive through a Category 4 cyclone to report for work by a boss I described as an addition to the Holy Trinity - God the Editor.

Some online comments suggested I could just have laughed down the phone and refused outright. But those were different times, Labor's current controversial Closing the Loopholes Bill with its "Right to Disconnect" rules was as unimaginable as life on Mars, and I would have been looking for another new career with a mortgage and a pregnant young wife to care for.

The Editor was omnipotent, his commands to be obeyed at all costs and I was just a mere junior reporter. But the Fourth Estate's version of the Heavenly Trinity had some human frailties - he could make mistakes. One of these involved me and narrowly avoided, potentially costly court litigation which was brought to mind recently by the expanding legal imbroglio surrounding the aborted Brittany Higgins / Bruce Lehrmann trial and subsequent defamation cases.


Even as a cadet journalist, I knew you shouldn't comment on, or report things that haven't actually been discussed in open court - but some senior players in the above cases seem to have been totally oblivious to this basic rule.

I thought I had finally found my niche when I stumbled into journalism - a career which had never been on my radar since leaving high school and completing a three-year pharmacy apprenticeship which I eventually walked away from.

Unlike pill counting and deciphering secret codes in doctors' scrawled handwriting, journalism provided new challenges almost every day. But as a more mature cadet than the usual crop out of high school, I was soon thrown in at the deep end while still having to paddle in the shallows.

After a few months, God the Editor had me covering anything in the Bundaberg district, from CWA and Red Cross meetings to Magistrate's Court, council meetings and even big District Court trials. One day I was called into his office and had to mount my own defence for being late to the CWA Branch annual meeting.

"Why the hell did that happen? You know it's the most important day of the year for all those women?"

"Er, well, Mr H, you also had me down for court and there was a bloke up on an attempted murder charge. The cop prosecutor said he had shot one of his neighbours …. I thought that would be more important".


"But you could have picked up the details from the prosecutor later, couldn't you? Just make sure you get a copy of the CWA president's annual report and a list of elected office bearers. We need to cover the community's bread and butter issues too, not just sensational court stories…"

Yeah right, what would a young cub reporter know? Several months later, I took his advice when a couple of similar engagements clashed. There was an adjourned hearing of the attempted murder case, but as God had directed, I could get the details later. Better not keep those Red Cross ladies waiting (plus they served delicious jam scones and lamingtons after their meetings, just like the CWA members. God's wife, Mrs H, always gave me a warm welcome too).

Well, maybe he was right. The police prosecutor was only too happy to give a graphic outline of the case against the defendant, down to the angry words and fight over a girl which had led to the shooting on a rural property.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

5 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

John Mikkelsen is a long term journalist, former regional newspaper editor, now freelance writer formerly of Gladstone in CQ, but now in Noosa. He is also the author of Amazon Books memoir Don't Call Me Nev.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by John Mikkelsen

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of John Mikkelsen
Article Tools
Comment 5 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy