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O'Brien relates years in spotlight

Kerry O’Brien.
Kerry O’Brien. Contributed

LIFE on the Northern Rivers seems to suit investigative journalist Kerry O'Brien.

"It's like no other place I can think of in Australia," O'Brien told the audience at Byron United's business breakfast yesterday.

But he has been surprised by our persistent sub-tropical rain.

"You've got to take the bad with the good and I do quite like the rain," O'Brien laughed.

The discussion between O'Brien and radio's Phil Daly gave insight into Australia's most trusted current affairs interviewer.

And when it comes to the modern media it's clear O'Brien has a dim view of the 24-hour-news cycle.

"The question is, is the news of a higher quality? No. Is it more superficial? Yes," O'Brien said.

"I suspect deep down we are less satisfied with what we're getting."

In his 46 years as a journalist, O'Brien has interviewed everyone from Nelson Mandela to Margaret Thatcher and Bette Midler.

But he said his favourite person to interview was politician John Button and that interviewing President Barack Obama was a breath of "fresh air" in comparison to Australian politicians.

He also discussed war reporting and said reporters embedded with US troops in the second Gulf War failed to cover the civilian side of the story.

"To me it felt eerily like war as entertainment," O'Brien said.

He also recalled the pressure of being one of around 500 correspondents trying to upload vision of the US invasion of Grenada.

O'Brien said he still remembered the thrill of knowing his pictures were "hitting living rooms" in Australia.

"It was magic then and to me, it's still magic," O'Brien said.

Topics:  byron united current affairs journalist


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