A lot has already been said since we heard the unassimilable news that an ABC chopper had come down near Lake Eyre and that the three men on board, the very well known Paul Lockyer among them, were feared dead. Tributes have been flowing freely.
That these three men were consummate professionals, good men, and very dear to all of their family, friends, and colleagues alike, goes without saying. But there is more to be said.
I am the first to be critical of the excesses of the national media. Some of the nonsense that spews forth, the indulgence of self-interest that is often so apparent, the abandonment of quality standards for the advancement of cynically turning a dollar, all combine to disgust me on a regular basis.
But the ABC, despite the usual background babble of its I-Feel-I-Must-Have-An-Opinion critics, has always been an oasis in the media-ethics desert I sometimes feel we are subject to. Aunty has provided us with coverage of regional, national, and international news that I for one have often clamoured to watch in preference to commercial media, not to mention often being the only friend for some people in remote parts of the country. The coverage it gives us seems natural, down-to-earth, and unaffected. A breath of fresh air at every turn. It has increased and helped us maintain our national awareness and cohesiveness, while asking nothing in return.
In short, it is a genuine national asset.
I watched the coverage of the chopper crash with a sense of loss. The men who lost their lives have been called Journalist, Pilot, Cameraman; but in my view they were not just professionals doing a job. Working for the organisation they worked for, doing the job that they were doing, whether they understood it or not, they were most definitely working in unselfish service of their country. Oh, certainly they wouldn’t have done the job if they didn’t love it, and the intrinsic rewards they derived from their careers were obviously well worth any associated privations. But I only hope that they halfway understood the way in which they made a genuine contribution to the place. Without work like this, by people like these, under the auspices of an organisation like the ABC, we would be blind to so much of our own country, its shape, its upheavals, and the people in it.
We owe Paul Lockyer, Gary Ticehurst, and John Bean a debt of gratitude. We should all of us hang our heads in a long moment’s contemplation of what this country would be like without people like them to tie it together. We are richer for having had the benefit of their brilliant work, and poorer for them having passed from among us.
All comfort to Paul, Gary, and John’s families, friends, and colleagues, and fellowship to our countrymen at the ABC at this sad time.