WIN newsroom closures: Former cameraman reminisces about his role in regional media

GOOD OLD DAYS: David Arnold in his days as a news stringer in regional NSW. Photo: SUPPLIED
GOOD OLD DAYS: David Arnold in his days as a news stringer in regional NSW. Photo: SUPPLIED

AS the only WIN newsroom in the Central West closes down this week, former news journalist/cameraman in the region David Arnold has been reminiscing about his own time in the industry.

The WIN newsroom in Orange along with ones in Albury, Wagga Wagga and Queensland's Wide Bay (which covers Hervey Bay and Bundaberg) will shut down for good on Friday, June 28.

The closures have been met with outrage from the public and one political party announcing it would immediately pull advertising from the broadcaster.

Stories from regional areas are vitally important to the fabric of local communities and for those who work in the industry there is no better place to be, Mr Arnold said.

The former journalist/cameraman started his career in media in mid-1984 as a photographer and sales rep with the then South West News in Young (this newspaper ran from 1961-93).

In October of that year, he heard about a job going for a stringer (one-man news crew) at RVN2 television station in Young, which is now part of the Prime7 network.

MEMORIES: Former news stringer David Arnold's role was to cover the celebrations and tragedies of regional life. Photo: TRACEY FAIRHURST

MEMORIES: Former news stringer David Arnold's role was to cover the celebrations and tragedies of regional life. Photo: TRACEY FAIRHURST

"I applied for the job and I'd never picked up a camera before," he said.

He got the job and was only given a week to learn how to be a journalist and operate the camera and then he was out on the road gathering stories.

Those days were different, he said, journalists, camera operators and photographers had no university degrees or formal training and just learnt on the job.

It's everything from train crashes to robberies, local shows to CWA dos, local sports heros to guinea pig races.

The first story he covered was a children's play at a local school, but his boss and the community were looking for a wide variety of stories.

"It's everything from train crashes to robberies, local shows to CWA dos, local sports heroes to guinea pig races," he said.

"Just being a one-man-show was awesome, you could go anywhere."

The hardest story he was ever called out to cover was to report on the death of his friend.

GOOD OLD DAYS: David Arnold in his days as a news stringer in regional NSW. Photo: SUPPLIED

GOOD OLD DAYS: David Arnold in his days as a news stringer in regional NSW. Photo: SUPPLIED

"I went to cover a friend of mine who was stabbed in his own home," he said.

Another horrific moment in his media career was covering a plane crash in 1993 in Young which killed six people instantly.

Mr Arnold worked in the Young newsroom until the end of 1989 before transferring to the Wagga Wagga bureau where he stayed until 1996.

As a stringer he was expected to deliver two stories a day, but in those days there was no digital capabilities, long distances to travel and everything was recorded on tape.

"Sometimes you'd have to meet people [his colleagues] halfway between towns to drop off the tape to get it back to the studio in time," he said.

Mr Arnold also recalls working closely with David Joss who was a journalist at the Young Times (now the Young Witness).

"I used to carry a stills camera with black and white film in case I came across anything David could use at the paper," he said.

Back in those days it was all done on tape. Sometimes you'd have to meet people halfway between towns to drop off the tape to get it back to the studio in time.

With around 35-40 WIN journalists, camera operators and editors impacted by the closure of the four newsrooms on Friday, Mr Arnold said it was a sad day for the media industry.

"Regional journalism is important, you tell it like it is," he said.

"Country people love their news ... it's a connection with what's happening in their own area."

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