OPINION: Two-and-a-half years ago then-Chronicle editor Peter Chapman took a chance and hired a guy who had just returned to Australia from managing a pub in Singapore to be the new court reporter.
The time since then has absolutely flown by, and as I write my last column for the Chronicle before taking up a new position with a paper in New South Wales, I would like to start by thanking Peter for taking that chance.
Without further ado, here are some of the highlights since the start of 2011.
Biggest Mistake: Slime Man
There have been a few mess-ups in my stories over the years, but generally I have been able to comfort myself that they occurred during the editing process rather than the writing process.
Slime Man, however, was all mine.
In my first year, I was curious about a thick, stinking mass of green goop that blanketed the beaches of Dundowran and Hervey Bay, and I wrote a story with the relevant government department about what the stuff was and whether it posed risks to wild-life or people.
Unfortunately, I thought it would be funny to create a little snowman made of the slime, and add it to the story.
Two years later, I still run into people holding a grudge about a "ridiculous made-up story about Hervey Bay being invaded by slime creatures".
One person even told me that was the day they stopped reading the Chronicle.
It taught me the valuable lesson that if you lose a reader at the start of a story, the rest of the content really won't matter.
Best Quote: "Councillors need to get their balls back from the CEO"
Former Mayor Ted Sorensen usually does a good job of keeping his head down, but seeing the council disbanding Wide Bay Water really got him riled up. He absolutely let rip at what he saw as inexperienced councillors being railroaded into a decision by CEO Lisa Desmond. Lisa and the councillors were outraged. Division 3 councillor Chris Loft went close to accusing me of making it up. Ted loved it.
Best Stories: a tie
One of the best things about being a reporter is when people choose to share their deeply personal stories with you. The most striking for me were with Desolee Murdoch and her family, and with councillor Stuart Taylor.
Desolee had tragically lost her son in a workplace accident, and she had every right to slam the door in my face. Instead, she invited me into her home with her family, and together they painted a beautiful tribute of young Kurt.
The interview with Stuart about his struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was one the most emotional I've ever experienced.
On a lighter note, I will also miss the daily shenanigans of the courts in Hervey Bay and Maryborough - it's better than daytime television.
Thank you all for reading.
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