Interview with Madura McCormack – Political Reporter for the NT News (Northern Territory News) and Sunday Territorian
Madura McCormack is a political reporter for the NT News’ State Parliament. Beginning her career in 2012, she took on internships at Fairfax Media (now Nine Entertainment Co), AFP and News Corp Australia. While completing her internships, McCormack was also working at Metior Magazine as a sub-editor and became its editor in 2015. A year later, she joined The Courier-Mail as a cadet journalist. In 2018, McCormack joined The Daily Mercury. You can tweet her at @MaduraMcCormack.
Why did you decide to become a political journalist?
It was thrust on me to be honest. I was at The Daily Mercury in Mackay at the time covering crime. My colleague covering council and politics was poached to another paper and my chief of staff pulled me into a room and asked if I wanted to cover council. But she made it clear it wasn’t really a question. I was apprehensive but gave it my best shot and ended up pleasantly surprised.
What have been some of the highlights of your career?
I took over the politics role in Townsville just as the Federal Election campaign was taking off. We’re talking the seat of Herbert (the most marginal at the time), George Christensen’s seat of Dawson and Bob Katter country. It was full throttle for me from the end of January until the end of May and in hindsight, I may have been delirious during the campaign. Prime example is this completely normal lead par after an election debate: “TWO political hopefuls and a pineapple vying for the ultra-marginal seat of Herbert have gone head-to-head in a fiery debate tackling the issues of water security, Adani and the cost of living”. Here’s the link to the rest of this… thing.
Having switched from crime reporting to politics, what are the main differences you have noticed between the two?
There is a lot less pain, grief and physical bloodshed in politics. I didn’t cover crime for very long compared to some of the old hands that have been at it. But toward the end of my stint in that round, I was ready to be done. Dealing with irate politicians or their staffers about stories they’d rather never see the light of day, I can do that all day every day. But I’m not sure I could stomach regularly talking to a grieving parent after a tragedy or crime.
What are some challenges your workplace endured during the coronavirus crisis?
Witnessing the closure of dozens of regional newspapers and the collapse of other outlets. The coronavirus has hit the industry like a wrecking ball hyped up on steroids and it affects us all.
How do press releases factor into your work?
It depends on the press release, to be honest. I am more likely to use one or forward it on to the right reporter in the newsroom if it’s embargoed. Universities and the Science Media Exchange do this a lot with science-related news and I really appreciate that. It may not run big in the paper, but it’s more likely to run if we get to have it in print before TV or radio are able to report it.
I also really appreciate it when peak bodies or representative organisations send out press releases that contain comments about a particular issue they’re interested in unsolicited. Sometimes I get press releases and realise I didn’t know the group existed. So I’m more likely to reach out to them at some stage. If that makes sense.
Also long live Medianet, a very useful resource. Send me a press release via Medianet, I’m more likely to open it.