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Archive for December 2012

Vale Dick Cutler – safe behind the wire.

with 3 comments

Today, I’m feeling my mortality.

And bowing my head in regret.

The finest journalist I had the pleasure of watching at work, ex-ABC wordsmith, Dick Cutler, is dead at 67. A heart attack, late last month, did what Viet Cong bullets had been unable to achieve decades before.

And, the fact that I only just heard of Dick’s death is something I regret deeply.

We met in the early 1980’s, not long after I joined ABC News. I had many years of newspaper experience behind me, yet I was in awe of Dick’s background as a journalistic journeyman. In the next five years, we shared a newsroom, a lot of laughs and raised many a glass at Kempsey, on the NSW Mid-North Coast.

Dick was an astonishing, award-winning journalist, capable of turning the mundane into quality copy at remarkable speed. Whether it was ploughing out stories about the local ‘mullet run’; scooping the press about cattle disease outbreaks; or pinning tinpot bureaucrats to the wall, Dick did it daily – with extraordinary finesse.

Why the techniques and thinking of such unsung giants of the industry are not studied more closely by today’s journalism students is a crying shame – and a pointer to the dire straits in which the noble profession finds itself.

Dick was an old fashioned, down-to-earth journalist who cared about the truth, but was doggedly objective and had no axe to grind. And, in those days at least, the ABC generally shared such admirable traits. But, Dick was a giant among some outstanding talents in ABC rural news – men such as Murray Miles at Grafton, Maurie Ferry in Bega and young gun, Rob Raschke, at Newcastle ….. extraordinary journalists all of them.

Unfortunately, Dick and I lost touch in recent years, but I had always intended to catch up with him; see again that boyish grin; swap stories of adventures past and colleagues long gone – and perhaps consume a few ales together. But, I put if off too long – and now it’s too late.

Like many of us, Dick had his inner demons. I don’t think Vietnam and the Kempsey bus crash helped. And, journalists – especially those with a work ethic like Dick – don’t often make it to old age.

But they certainly don’t make them like Dick anymore – and I only hope that somehow this man’s contribution to journalism can be remembered in a lasting way.

A few words in a newspaper obituary hardly seems sufficient.

Goodbye Dick. Sorry I wasn’t there mate.


Written by ianandsue

December 17, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Posted in Uncategorized