Dan Cox studied at a Christian school in Newcastle and wanted to complete his higher education within the same context. “I also wanted to be known by my name not a number.” Before enrolling, Dan visited Avondale College of Higher Education’s Lake Macquarie campus; he loved its size and its jacaranda trees. He would also become the “grateful recipient” of a President’s Scholarship. Dan graduated from Avondale with a Bachelor of Arts (Communication) and Bachelor of Business (Marketing) in 2006. After a stint in a marketing and communications role with Samaritans, the welfare arm of the Anglican Church in the Hunter, he began working as a journalist with ABC News in Newcastle in 2008.
Take us through an average day at the ABC. What are your favourite and least favourite parts of the job?
A journalist has no average work day. It can start slow and dull but end busy and exciting. One of my favourite parts of the job is not knowing what’s coming—news breaks when you least expect it. My least favourite part of the job is when news breaks late on a Friday afternoon.
My day depends on what’s happening around the region—I cover stories from Wyee to Bulahdelah. It begins with a read of the newspapers and a discussion about what stories the newsroom will cover. Although I file for radio, television and online, I thrive on the adrenalin of filing for hourly radio deadlines. A big part of the job is producing and reading these live bulletins for 1233 ABC Newcastle. Live radio is immediate and means you must give the listener the most up-to-date information. I enjoy getting out of the studio and meeting local people, though. It’s an honour to tell their stories.
With the downsizing of the news media, there’s less of you to tell those stories.
Yes, the industry is shrinking. The ABC has shed hundreds of jobs nationally, local newspapers are retracting and regional television newsrooms are always looking for ways to save money. Regional media is the voice of the people. It gives those outside the big cities the ability to voice their opinions and stay connected. It’ll be a sad day if, or when, news is produced out of the capital cities alone.
Your most memorable story?
I’m glad you used “memorable” not “favourite” because people’s lives are often adversely affected by the story you’re covering. The most memorable: reporting on the eight-week New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry into how the Catholic Church and the police handled allegations of child sexual abuse against two paedophile priests in the Hunter. The inquiry served as the precursor to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It’s all about exposing the abuse of children by people in positions of authority. People are incredibly brave in sharing their stories.
From your position, is the world getting better or worse?
It’s certainly not getting better, but we can find hope and peace in the living God. He tells us not to be anxious because, as it says in Romans, if God is for us, who can be against us? He also says in Revelation He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. I particularly like the second part of the verse. There’ll be no more death, or sorrow, or crying, or pain because what’s come before has passed away.
Your full-time house sitting role gives you freedom to travel for months at a time, which you do every couple of years. What’s left to see?
The Northern Hemisphere’s aurora borealis, 1950s Cuba before it changes too much now it’s restored diplomatic relations with the US, the Holy Land and the Okavango Delta in Botswana. But I’m thinking of buying a campervan and using my long service leave to explore Australia. I want to see Uluru at sunset.