In which our intrepid hero delivers a eulogy.

Early this morning, two miners were pulled from the bowels of the earth in Beaconsfield in northern Tasmania. I know this, because Three SMSed me at 5.30am, and all six free-to-air channels (I get ABC2 as well) had blanket coverage of the event.

It was a bit like the fall of the Berlin Wall. It seemed such a life-changing event. TV presenters cried as they told of the heroism of Brant Webb and Todd Russell and their fortnight-long ordeal. Locals proclaimed to the world how proud they were of being Aussies, that Webb and Russell were Aussies, that only Aussies could’ve survived under such conditions.

Except that this wasn’t like the fall of the Berlin Wall at all. Nothing changed, except for two men who’d spent fourteen days underground. Sure, they survived their ordeal, but it wasn’t anything (if you’ll pardon the phrase) earth-shattering. Tomorrow, we’ll all be the same people we were yesterday. Borders remain the same. The world’s problems continue.

Webb and Russell weren’t the only ones trapped in the mine when a tremor brought the ceiling down; another miner, named Larry Knight, was crushed under a rockfall. The ABC, to their credit, acknowledged his death, but the commercial stations would have none of it. They couldn’t have anything—not even Knight’s tragedy—intrude on their coverage of the others’ euphoric escape.

Mel and Kochie couldn’t be seen to cry tears of woe, when these two heroes were pulled from the mine. Frankly, I don’t care what the journalists on the ground think. It’s their job to distance themselves from the event and report objectively. They’re not the be-all-and-end-all of the news.

Yesterday, Richard Carleton died. He wasn’t my favourite journalist, nor did I particularly approve of what I’d heard about his style of getting stories. But he did come from an era of journalistic integrity, which we have since lost. In that day, Carleton and his colleagues could be relied upon to get to the bottom of the story and deliver something approximating the truth. And not show-pony around as if the news was all about them.

Journalists of Carleton’s ilk had guts, determination and a sense of professional pride in their work. Their contributions ensured that the Australian public could make informed decisions. There are others like this still in the industry, but they’re few and far between.

I’d like to salute the courage of Larry Knight and Richard Carleton, whom history will soon forget. Rest in peace, dudes.

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