chapter  5
28 Pages

Generating News Stories

ByBarbara Alysen, Mandy Oakham, Roger Patching, Gail Sedorkin

A reporter at The Age, Richard Baker, was enjoying a drink at the pub one evening when an 'older bloke' told him a yarn about the seals in Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay. It seemed the state government had built an expensive covered platform out in the bay for the seals to loll about on. But the seals were unimpressed. They were snubbing the new platform and refusing to budge from an antiquated, tumbledown structure nearby. The story had 54several fine elements for a news piece, among them government extravagance and appealing marine mammals. After a few calls to check it out, and the dispatch of a photographer to provide a visual showing the old and new platforms, with the seals firmly ensconced on the old one, Richard had a frontpage story. The next day it was covered widely by radio and television and had become one of Victoria's more memorable human interest stories of the year.