with Tim Wallace, Freelance Journalist - 15th May
grew up in Perth. I have a degree from Curtin
University, where I majored in Politics and
Journalism and edited the student newspaper. I moved
to Canberra in 1997 after being offered a job in the
public service, where I got a cadetship at the The
Canberra Times. I worked there for two and
half years then went to work for the Australian
Financial Review. I quit in late 2001 to pursue
do you prefer to write about and why?
broadly interested in public policy, politics, economics
and social issues. I'm more specifically interested
in sustainability and economic democracy. I also write
about management and media. I try to write about what
I think is important. I see the media's role very
much as the fourth estate, providing the information
necessary for an informed citizenry to participate
in democratic decision-making.
you choose the media business, or did it choose you?
chose it, with a little help. I struck out on jobs
all over the place, including making it to the penultimate
round at the West Australian
and The Age before the
editor of The Canberra Times,
Jack Waterford, took pity on me and gave me a job.
has the internet helped and hindered you?
a huge resource. I can't imagine how I survived without
it. That said, it's important to recognise that the
internet is an imperfect and incomplete reflection
of the world, and real journalism should reach out
and explain that world rather than just what makes
other media figures and journalists do you respect
the most and why?
would be easier to ask who I don't respect, but two
who I respect enormously are Michael Travis and Tom
Phelan, both veteran subeditors who I was privileged
to work with. Both taught me very different lessons
about the craft - Michael more a pedant, Tom more
a word-player - but both demonstrated the beauty of
journalism as a life-long vocation
the biggest news story you have broke?
story I'm still probably the proudest of was a feature
on serious deficiencies for the funding procedures
of the National Landcare Program, which indicated
a clear lack of accountability of funds that were
already insufficient to redress large-scale environmental
degradation like dry-land salinity. It was published
just as I left the Canberra
Times and seemed to change nothing.
aspect of media do you most enjoy?
I like the fact journalism is one of very few jobs
in this day and age that I can think and say what
I like and not have to think about the need sell a
line or product. I don't want to be a salesman. I
want to have independence of mind. I have colleagues
who have jumped across to public relations but to
me that is a quantum leap - the antithesis of what
attracts me to journalism.
are your aims and objectives?
line with the above, but with more money attached.
do you balance the media business and having a social
try not to work too many night shifts.
is the most dangerous work situation you have been
was doing something I didn't like but was getting
well-paid for it.
mix of social conscience and self-obsession.
advice do you have for others looking to break into
an unglamorous business, so be in it for the right
reasons. Be prepared for your high-flying career to
take a lot longer to pan out than you anticipated.
At least, that's my experience. But don't give up.
news media websites do you most often frequent?
SMH, The Age
(for AFL news), The Guardian,
Crikey and Indymedia
(though the latter two less and less). I also like
Arts and Letters
is next for Tim Wallace?
if you've got any rich mates who want to bankroll
a magazine, let me know.