“You are not important” is one of the messages crime reporter at The Australian Dan Box gave Macleay College’s journalism students on Wednesday.
The award-winning reporter said his seven lessons in journalism relate to age-old skills that have stood the test of time.
The lessons are: you are not important, you are not a writer, read the paper, pick up the phone and write it down, details matter, take your time, beg but don’t steal and do what you believe is right.
“What I mean when I say you are not important is when you are editing a story the only people who really matter are the people you are writing about or reporting on and the people who are reading it,” Mr Box said.
“Our jobs as reporters, it’s really simple, it’s to take facts and to help people understand them.”
Mr Box is the narrator and leading reporter in the Bowraville Murders podcast. The podcast has garnered significant national attention into the unsolved murders of three children and resulted in the Attorney-General calling for a retrial of the prime suspect.
Mr Box said working for The Australian is a great opportunity to be heard by the decision makers of this country and hopefully invoke change on matters that need to be addressed.
“The Australian is the paper that lands on the police commissioner’s desk, the prime minister’s desk, on judges’ desks, on lawyers’ desks, on doctors’ desks every single day,” Box said.
“Even though we aren’t read by a huge number of people, the people that read The Australian are the ones that then go out and make a lot of the decisions.
“So if you’re getting stuff in The Australian, you’re getting read by the state premier and by the prime minister.”
Mr Box said he currently has the opportunity to choose what stories he is going to write and the freedom to take his time investigating and researching.
“I’m in a phenomenally fortunate position at the moment, where I can pretty much do whatever I want in the paper up to the point where they tell me I have to do something right now,” Mr Box said.
“Most of the time, I get to say today I’m going to write about this, tomorrow I’m going to do that… and I’m going to go out to this place for four or five days.”
Box went on to say that another great part about working at The Australian is they are one of the few media organisations that give a story the time it needs and deserves.
“[One] thing we do, which is rare nowadays, is we still have the time and the resources to commit to stories,” Mr Box said.
“It is getting harder in this industry to spend the time on a story it deserves, to actually do the company justice or do justice to the people you write about, but at The Oz we still get discretion and we still get the chance to take a bit of time.
“We are still one of those old fashion media organisations that say okay, let’s try and do it properly.” – Paul Burns
Photo of Dan Box by Jasmine Motti