Michael Rowland’s #CommsCorner: cassette recorders and constant communication

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michaelCOMMSfinalThis week we catch up with ABC News Breakfast’s Michael Rowland. From Australia to America to Anzac Cove, Michael has anchored some of the most high profile events of the past decade including Obama’s historic campaign. After years reporting from Washington to Boston, he now spends his mornings on ABC1 and ABC News 24. You can follow Michael on Twitter at @mjrowland68.

What’s your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?
I’m the co-presenter of ABC News Breakfast. I’m also the husband of Nicki, proud dad of Tom and Eleanor and a Western Bulldogs tragic!

Tell us about a typical day (or should we say dawn start) at the ABC?
You mean pre-dawn right? Alarm goes off at 3am. I shower and have the first of several strong coffees while reading all the papers online. Then into the ABC for pre-show planning with the Breakfast team, more coffee, lots of makeup then into the studios to rehearse the opening headlines etc. Then, all of a sudden it’s 6am and the red on-air light is on and off we go!

What’s involved in being President of the Melbourne Press Club?
Working on a durable and long-lasting peace deal between the Herald Sun and the Age! Seriously, I lead a very committed board and we all work towards promoting excellence in Victorian journalism through speaking events and, of course, our night of nights, the annual Quill awards.

What would ‘new recruit’ Michael think about your presidency of the MPC?
What a leader! What a journalist! He should be President for life!  More likely it’s: How long do we have to stick with him in the top job!

When did you first know you wanted to be a journalist?
When I got an unexpectedly high HSC result (that’s the NSW version of the VCE). Like a lot of year 12 students, I had no real idea what I wanted to do with my life but that result would get me into one of the good journalism courses of the time. So I figured as I had always liked writing and following the news I would give it a go! 28 years later….

Which journalist from around the world do you most admire?
Lots to choose from but it’s hard to go past Phil Williams, who has just finished up as the ABC’s long serving Europe Correspondent. He is a fantastic story teller who has covered some of the world’s most brutal events (most recently the downing of MH17) but always brings genuine compassion to his reporting. You can’t manufacture stuff like that. Having worked with him over the years, including earlier this year at Gallipoli for the 100th anniversary commemorations, I can attest that he’s a really nice guy too!

What communication tools can’t you live without?
My smartphone as well as my twitter and FB accounts.

What are the biggest challenges you face? And what are the biggest opportunities?
The biggest challenge is ensuring our stories/interviews etc. reach the widest possible audience and that means being available on numerous platforms, not just the living room TV. At the ABC, we are constantly listening to our audience to find out ways of better delievering the news to them when they want it. At the same time, this provides all of us with tremendous journalistic opportunities to tell our stories in a variety of forms.

Tell us about the news coverage that you’re most proud of?
A career highlight was covering the 2008 US Presidential election and standing in a massive Chicago crowd about 50 metres or so from Barack Obama on the night he became President-elect. What do they say about journos writing the first draft of history?

Co-hosting News Breakfast from Anzac Cove for several mornings this year is also up there.

What’s been the biggest change to the newsroom since you began your career?
Just how much smaller and faster things have become. When I started out as a journalist back in the (gulp) late 1980s, ABC newsrooms still had typewriters, fax machines, cassette recorders and mobile phones were the size of a small briefcase! Everything is much more streamlined now and the news is much more immediate. Did I mention journalists actually went out to lunch in the old days…?

What book/blog/news source do you think every communicator should read (or watch)?
ABC News Breakfast. On air from 6am to 9am each weekday morning on ABCTV and ABCNews24. You’ll get everything you need to know for the day ahead!

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’
…constant.’

 

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