Short Read: #ILearnedThisYear

2017 has been an immensely challenging year for news and the people behind the news. From Trump’s inauguration in January to Meghan and Harry’s engagement just the other day, it seems this year’s news cycle has had something to complain for everyone.  But just as there has been something to complain, there has been something to get excited or leave us in great suspense. And no, I’m not even going to include the winner of The Bachelor in that latter description – but I will include $12,000 bitcoin.

(And counting).

And now, we’re here. 30+ pitches, 25 recorded and broadcasted stories, many 4:45am wake ups later – and the end of the journalism year is here. I estimate (with some deviation) that I’ve been on your airwaves for about 4 hours.

And that’s just the introductions. (corny laugh soundtrack insert here)

This year, I learnt that China can send its Premier to Australia – and that he can meet with our leaders and organise deals that are beneficial to both sides. Against the fierce protectionism brought on by President Trump, Premier Li achieved lasting gains including two-way deals for our agriculture, our education and tourism services. However, the creation of a strong trade relationship between China and Australia also created the new love triangle that we see – between China, Australia and the US. And with North Korea as a looming threat and Japan’s clearer mandate, Australia is left at the end of 2017 in a pickle.

This year, I learnt that the New York Times did establish a bureau in Australia. Did they do well? Well, they certainly shook things up as the media landscape in this country finally got some serious competition. That and the CBS takeover of the Ten Network led to the media reforms that have been necessary for the years. Before September’s media reforms passed parliament, no alterations had been made for the provision of internet news, social media and did not have concrete funding for grassroots media.

(Not gonna lie, was pretty happy for community radio which got a large slice…which won’t seem as large when we have to divide it some 350+ ways.)

This year, I learnt that it is (finally) possible to get a break through on Brexit. And yes, the UK will have to pay a pricey divorce bill. It was the Brexit that no one who voted ‘yes’ wanted – then again, there were a lot of people who voted ‘yes’ and then repudiated their vote. The bill is so far worth near £50bn – which is some financial liability bill. We also learned from the Brexit process that Theresa May just doesn’t know when to call an election. Stability was her core message of the July election – and messed it up spectacularly as Jeremy Corbyn got given the shock of his life.

This year, I learnt that doing news coverage at 6am is a challenging but exciting prospect. I also learnt that an unopened coffee shop from 6 to 7am is simply unacceptable – especially when you had to catch a train to get into the street side studio. And finally, I learnt about news presenting that when that red light goes on, nervousness gets completely redefined.

This year, I learnt that Malcolm Turnbull is the master of bowing to pressure. Thursday saw the introduction of a Royal Banking Commission – days after reminding the nation that a Royal Commission would not be launched. Where is your head buddy? And of course, I also learnt this year that fulfilling election promises includes spending $100 million on something Mr Turnbull damn well knows we didn’t need.

This year, I learnt that two global tragedies can unfold in the same week. In May, the siege of Marawi officially started – to little fanfare and coverage in the media. And that same week, 22 innocent lives were taken when a disturbed individual decided it would be a good idea to blow up a concert in Manchester. That received far more coverage than Marawi – although both events were instigated by troublemakers of different kinds. Looking back, both events deserved the coverage they were given – but I’m sure the Australian news directors will be thinking about they cover regional news in the future.

This year, I learnt that it is possible to label something a bubble and not have it explode. Against all the odds – and all the pundits (including some notable blokes named Joseph Stiglitz and Jamie Dimon), bitcoin has surged. In fact, surged is probably an understatement. Here’s the chart to prove it:


(Source: Bloomberg Intelligence)

Absurd is a good word I would use in this moment.

This year, I learnt that panelling a program and controlling time are two things that go hand in hand…as long as you’re great with time management. What you may not know about the Australia-China Investment Special that I co-hosted is that we had 15 questions for the 30 minute running time. Unfortunately, I also learned that academics like to talk a lot and that my executive producer likes asking the long questions.

We got through 6 questions.

Note to self, Hans. It’s impossible to shut up someone who knows more than you no matter how hard you try.

This year, I learnt dual citizens are acceptable in our Parliament – even if they lead all the way to the Deputy PM. Darn you, Kiwis! Or more to the point – well done for completely upending the political process as we know it. I also want to congratulate Matt Canavan on not talking to his Mum enough about what citizenship he really holds.

This year, I learnt that Americans STILL don’t get it when it comes to gun control. Now, I could explain over and over and over again how I feel about this issue or how I felt reacting to Las Vegas….or I could just show you this tweet. And it’s not even written in all caps:

Most importantly, I’ve learnt this year that this is a world where nothing is guaranteed anymore and no expectations should ever be set about what might happen. And yet in all of this, the value that has stood the test of this difficult and crazy year is companionship. Companionship through friends, family and for the lucky ones – a partner. In a world of uncertainty, it is at these times that we need to hold those close to each other closer.

Well that’s it for #WhatMatters for 2017. I’m back in the new year. Until then, have a happy and joyous holiday season. I’m off to buy some presents.

Additional Resources: The Guardian, The Economist, 2SER, Fairfax Media

(C) Hans Lee Media 2017.

Follow Hans on Twitter: @ThatHansLee



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