Interview with Paul Osborne, Canberra Bureau Chief at Australian Associated Press
Paul Osborne began his journalism career tossing junk mail into suburban Brisbane mailboxes while pedalling furiously on a bike. This was where he learned the need for “accuracy”. After graduating from QUT, Paul’s first full-time journalism position was at the Central Queensland News as a cadet. After that, he moved to The Courier-Mail as a sub-editor, and also produced the Anglican newspaper Focus, before starting at AAP in Brisbane in 2000. Having covered state politics in Queensland, Paul did a short stint in Canberra before returning to Brisbane as AAP bureau chief in 2007, and then returned to Canberra in 2010 as a senior political writer for AAP. His Twitter handle is @osbornep.
As someone who has worked at AAP for 18 years, what do you think makes it unique from other news organisations?
AAP has an extraordinary reach in terms of audience. As a journalist, you get great satisfaction when you write something, knowing that many people are reading your copy. However, it also means that you need to get it right and be balanced in your approach.
What has been your most memorable moment as a journalist and why?
Travelling with prime ministers to more than 20 countries have been exciting but, from a personal point of view, meeting journalist Peter Greste after he was freed from jail in Egypt in 2015 was memorable. I had kept a Post-It note on my computer from the time he was jailed which read “Free Greste”, and he signed the note for me, adding the words “Greste freed”.
For a press release to grab your attention, what should it contain?
The key elements need to be: catchy headline, strong quotes, complex terms explained in simple language, all the key information (who, what, when, where, why, how) and contact details. The news angle must be immediately obvious.
How has journalism influenced politics over the years?
Well-told stories can spark the government into action. Just look at stories on the NT youth detention crisis, exposure of bank misconduct and the abuse of animals being shipped overseas. News is powerful.
What advice would you give to a young journalist starting out in the industry?
If you are not passionate about writing and learning more about the world around you, don’t bother. Read the best writing. Listen to the best radio news and current affairs (ABC). Watch the best TV news programs (ABC, SBS). Then try to BE those journalists.