60 Minutes tics up 40

The 60 Minutes clock has been ticking for 40 years. It's an impressive milestone which many respected journalists have contributed to including originals George Negus, Ray Martin, and Ian Leslie.

These groundbreaking reporters were followed by Jana Wendt, Jeff McMullen, Mike Munro, Jennifer Byrne, and Richard Carleton. Of the originals, Martin is the only remaining contributor to the respected news program.

On board since 1996, Liz Hayes has seen many colleagues pass through the hallowed studios, bringing us reports and interviews with people from all walks of life.

The most recent stablemate - Tom Steinfort - is a full-time correspondent having reported for the show in the last few years.

In year 12 he hadn't picked a career but after a work experience stint at Ten studios in Melbourne, where one of the sport journalists who had attended his school worked, he was hooked. He completed a journalism degree at RMIT while working as a reporter for WIN news in Ballarat, joining Nine News in Melbourne in 2007.

He won the Melbourne Press Club's young journalist of the year award following his coverage of the Black Saturday bushfires in February 2009. "We were the first crew at Marysville, people had lost lives. Early next morning, there were 14 confirmed deaths. It was a huge disaster; we worked 32 days straight. My aunty's house had burnt down in Bendigo; everyone knew someone who was affected," he says.

Throughout his career, he says there have been some colleagues he had admired. "Gerard Whateley is one and Peter Overton. He's an absolute gentleman who looks after young journalists as they are going through. He would be well entitled to have a massive ego, but instead his focus is on fostering talent."

His report from inside North Korea, at the peak of the nuclear missile stand-off between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, earned him high praise once again. "It took years to set up. When I finally got an email I thought it was spam." After meetings with people in Beijing it was touch and go whether the Australian government would allow us to go there. Steinfort says in the back of his mind was the imminent danger. "It was bizarre with spies watching us 24/7. We'd leave our hotel and our bags were rifled while we were gone. When we first got to North Korea our jaws were on the floor. They don't have billboards; it's like they are all robots, and we'd been dropped in the middle of the Truman Show."

One of the most emotional stories Steinfort has report on was in 2018. "It's always stories close to home, on people you care about, that get emotional. Last year my dad getting an Order of Australia Medal, and seeing what it meant to him, after all the hard yards he's put in, that was special."

And the story that has given him most joy in his career to date? "For selfish reasons, it is Richmond winning the AFL premiership[in 2017]." The team's win was it's first flag in 37 years. "I got to go with my family. After the win it was pure delirium, everyone was so used to them losing, it was genuine shock. There was pandemonium. I was supposed to fly back next morning to be on air for the Today Show, but I called the producer and begged to stay in Melbourne."

Steinfort's stint as European correspondent for the network based in London from 2015 was an amazing experience. "In this business you take whatever job you can get, and get as much fun out of it as you can. Europe correspondent was what I always wanted. That job was amazing, always moving so fast. Every day you could get a phone call to say you are going to Spain, or Tunisia, Paris - it was fascinating."

As to who he would like to interview but as yet hasn't had the chance - "Donald Trump, I reckon it would be good sport. I mean Obama would be interesting, or Bill Clinton, but with Trump, you never know what is going to come out of his mouth."

Steinfort was on the campaign trail during the 2016 US presidential election. "It's rare to experience a time when you are seeing history as it unfolds. The more and more events we covered, my cameraman and I started feeling he was going to win. It was a snowball effect. I don't think we'll ever see anything like it again. We were in Time Square - people were in disbelief. I think the benchmark of crazy politicians will be measured against Trump now."

Being faced with such serious situations leaves little time for humour on the job. "The funniest people we work with are the crews. We journalists often take ourselves too seriously, but the crews take the piss out of us and remind us we're not that important."


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