Bruce Guthrie is one of Australia’s most respected journalists. He has been editor of The Age and the Herald Sun, and worked as a senior editor at People Magazine in New York. Bruce is now the Editorial Director of the New Daily, a free online news service supported by Industry Superannuation Funds.
“Our family moved into Broadmeadows in 1958. We were one of the first families there and we had a three bedroom concrete house.
Broadmeadows was an attempt by the Bolte government to provide a workforce for the local factories. It was fine in theory but it was a bit of a planning disaster, there were no facilities or infrastructure. It was really only later in life I realised the shortcomings and saw what the rest of Melbourne had.
But we didn’t know any of that then, as a young boy I just thought it was a playground. Because there was a nearby migrant hostel, it was a very multicultural community. So while we were short changed by government in those days, we still managed to create a community.
I remember the annual inspections that the Housing Commission did, we hated them. Mum would be anxious days out from the appointment.
When I went into journalism people seemed to be surprised that I was from Broadmeadows. As if they expected us to have a hunchback and to have our knuckles dragging on the ground. There was an expectation that somehow we were lesser individuals.
My background in Broadmeadows was fantastic for a career as a journalist, because if you can’t engage with people you can’t be an effective journalist.
It also helps to be able to speak up. Broadie people spoke up. As an editor you have to take strong positions and stare down bullies. That came to the fore for me when I was editing the Age and we had a pretty powerful Premier in Jeff Kennett. I am very proud of the stance that the Age took against Jeff.
I am concerned about the way that public housing tenants are portrayed in the media. Media increasingly pigeon-holes people and deals in stereotypes, because they have to remove complexity.
Broadsheets like the Age used to be interested in the complexity, but we are in a race to the bottom now. We are seeing more and more clickbait stories. So it is becoming harder to educate the public about complex issues like public housing. You almost have to start your own medium, which is really where the New Daily came from.
Public housing is full of terrific people who have every right to aspire. Young people in public housing should believe that anything is achievable, that there are no limits.”