Senior Foreign Correspondent, Hamish Macdonald

When the opening credits roll on Ten’s two new shows on Monday night – 6PM with George Negus & 6:30 News – none of what we’ll see will be by accident. It’s all in place to ensure people feel comfortable getting their news & insight from some of the best in the business. “I think fundamentally we’ll be honest with our audience and hope to engender more trust,” said Hamish Macdonald, Senior Foreign Correspondent for #6PM, when he spoke with MolksTVTalk earlier this week.

“I know there is plenty of chatter in the twitersphere about #6PM. We probably best describe it as ‘public affairs’ TV. We will cover the big stories of the day, but give you more context, depth and insight.”

“If its a big story, we’ll stick with it, give it some time and really get into the issue. It’s what we’re all about.”

No slouch when it comes to journalistic credibility – Hamish has the 2008 Young Reporter of the Year award under his belt and was the first Australian to anchor a bulletin on Al Jazeera English – he joins an impressive line up in host George Negus and other reporters Hugh Riminton, Max Futcher, Danielle Isdale, Meggie Palmer, Emily Rice and US-based Emma Dallimore. It’s a team with some serious experience. “The team is great. (We all) are just part of a brilliant, tight knit team. I can’t tell you how exciting it has been to sit in our robust editorial meetings thrashing out our plans.”

Macdonald adds that at its core, this is a team of old-school journalists. “We’re not TV reporters, or wannabe TV stars. We are hacks who want good stories.” They face some sizeable challenges, too, with this being Ten’s first foray into News between 6-7pm in a long time. Channels 7 & 9 have both worked hard as 2011 has started with many quality stories filed during the recent Queensland flood crisis & firing ratings salvos across each other’s bows. Ten may only be new to this party, but Macdonald feels the entire 6PM team is up to the challenge.

When asked about the “death” of traditional 6pm news bulletins with so many accessing their news online, Macdonald is quick to defend the medium. “Look, I don’t think news is dead, otherwise I’d be looking for another career.”

“I come from a generation of people who have a huge thirst for information – we may access that information in different ways, but ultimately we probably consume more info than any previous generation. TV news needs to tap into that, and that’s certainly something we are thinking about.”

Given Ten’s younger demographic approach, and the fact that all reporters – even Negus (though he is yet to tweet) – are on Twitter, it’s a fair expectation that interacting with viewers is high on the agenda. But Macdonald is keeping those cards close to his chest for launch night. “If people don’t like what we’re saying, we’ll be very keen to engage with them via #6PM before and after the show! I don’t want to give too much away but certainly we can start using hashtag #6PM to join the conversation already.”

“All our team will use handles including 6pm, ie, @hamish6PM, which we think sends a clear message. That this is a professional tool for us. You won’t read about dinner with mum last night on my tweets. 😉 We see this as a serious news gathering and disemination tool and we will use it professional manner, probably in a way commercial broadcasters in australia don’t currently do.”

This is a bold move by a station that has prided itself on targeting a younger demographic to launch two extra News services which stretch it’s footprint to 2.5 hours of a night into primetime. Given the network’s history of supporting it’s gambles (The 7pm Project) to give them the opportunity to establish themselves, when asked what he hopes 6PM is known for in 12 months time Macdonald offered: “I hope #6PM stands for good, tough, no holds barred australian journalism. None of the fluff, just ballsy story telling.”

“And I might add, I think that’s what I grew up watching and so desperately want to see returning to Australian TV screens!”

(Extracts taken from tweeterview with Hamish Macdonald & SteveMolk on 18/01/2011. View the full conversation here.)


6PM with George Negus – 6pm weeknights, Ch10
Image/Video sources – Ch10.