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#Flashback Fridays: Kathy Marks

Hatch reporter Tom Livingstone profiles the industry professionals teaching at Macleay College, for a new series – #FlashbackFridays

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Macleay College is paving the way for future journalists with innovative, practical and, most importantly, fun teaching methods. The staff are exceptional, giving students the best education and sculpting them into elite professional communicators.

What shapes these amazing people and what journey have they been on to get to where they are today?

This week #FlashbackFridays profiles the very impressive Kathy Marks. Kathy teaches International Reporting, Globalisation and Feature Writing, and is a Newsroom Editor for Hatch.

She’s an award-winning, undeniably talented storyteller who’s a true asset to Macleay College. The knowledge and experience she openly shares with students are astonishing!

Image: Kathy enjoying her morning cuppa while covering the 25th anniversary of the handback of Uluru (Source: Supplied)

What job did you first start out with in the industry?

After studying French and German at university, I got a job as a Reuters trainee. I worked for Reuters in London and then in Bonn, the West German capital. After a year in Bonn, I was dreaming in German.

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What did you love about those early days?

I loved learning the art of crafting stories. And discovering that I had a gift for writing with a kind of musical cadence.

Then there was the socialising. It was the mid-1980s, and I caught the tail-end of the “good old days” of Fleet Street, with long, boozy lunches and endless nights in the pub.

Image: Journalism Lecturer @kathymarksoz (Source: Macleay College)

What did you hate about them?

I didn’t like the Reuters corporate thing, or the formulaic news agency style, or the lack of bylines. I was desperate to break into newspapers.

I left Reuters, freelanced for a while, then (eventually) got my first Fleet Street reporting job, at what we called “Her Majesty’s Daily Telegraph”.

Not my politics, but a great quality broadsheet.

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What is a career highlight you have (or are there a few)?

Quite a few…

Spending a long, hot summer in New York for the Daily Telegraph – I rollerbladed everywhere. Being poached by The Independent and getting posted to Australia as Asia-Pacific Correspondent. Covering the George Speight coup in Fiji, the Bali bombings, the 2004 tsunami and the civil war in Indonesia’s Aceh province. Hanging out with the Mongrel Mob in New Zealand, meeting a Prince Philip-worshipping tribe in Vanuatu and sneaking into the Nauru detention centre. Seeing the impact of rising seas in Tuvalu and Kiribati. Uncovering Indonesian sweatshops making team uniforms for British athletes at the London Olympics. Interviewing the likes of Cate Blanchett, Xanana Gusmao and Rodrigo Duterte.

And travelling the length and breadth of this amazing country, from the Cocos Islands to the Torres Strait.

Then there was Pitcairn Island, where I spent six weeks in 2004, reporting on multiple cases of child sexual abuse by descendants of the Bounty mutineers. I was one of just six journalists from around the world accredited to cover the story.

Pitcairn’s incredibly isolated, and after travelling for a week, we had to wait for the alleged sex offenders to come out and fetch us in their longboats.

There were no phones on the island, and no TV, no cafes or pubs; just one tiny shop which opened for three hours a week. We had to bake our own bread and get around on quad bikes.

Half the adult male population was on trial, and we lived in the midst of them and their families, copping daily abuse about the stuff we were writing. It was incredibly claustrophobic, and we all went a bit crazy.

When I got back to Australia, I wrote a book about the case which won a couple of awards.

Image above: Kathy reporting on remote Pitcairn Island in 2004 for her book Pitcairn: Paradise Lost (Source: Supplied)

Kathy Marks-3.jpgAnother highlight was winning a Walkley Award in 2013 for best indigenous affairs reporting.

I can honestly say it was the best night of my life!

5) What do you enjoy about teaching at Macleay?

Passing on my love of great writing and socially engaged reporting; interacting with a really fantastic bunch of young people; being able to bring my dog [Izzy] to work!

6) What would you be doing if you weren’t a journalism superstar?

I’d be an aid worker, or something in the art world, or helping with orang-utan conservation in Sumatra.

7) Something quirky, most people don’t know about you.

I love hip-hop music (Young Thug is my latest thing) and I also love running… so at the weekend I jam on the headphones and hit the pavement.


Image: A Friday highlight for everyone. When Kathy brings Izzy in to say hello (Source: Supplied).

A quote or belief that personally motivates you each day.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Source unknown (but wrongly attributed to Irish philosopher, Edmund Burke. – Tom Livingstone

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