8 times Australians made us proud to be Australian

While your mates shotgun tinnies in their pluggers to the strains of Khe Sanh, here's a post I wrote for BuzzFeed on the 8 other times you can be proud to be Australian. You can find the original post here.

1. Sydney Siege.

A mentally ill man with a history of violence took a small cafe in the heart of Sydney but he could not shake our resilience. Tens of thousands laid flowers near Lindt Cafe in Martin Place where Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson lost their lives in the December 15 attack. The spontaneous display of grief started with just one bouquet and took almost 100 volunteers to remove them. It says something significant about the Australian character that our response was not fear or further violence but flowers.

2. The Sydney Olympics.

Australians came together to deliver what was widely described as the best modern Olympics, and we wear it with pride — last month I saw a man on a Sydney train in his volunteer uniform. Cathy Freeman’s gold medal in the 400m — the hopes of the nation resting on her shoulders— remains one of the great moments in world sport. As an Indigenous athlete, and the granddaughter of a member of the Stolen Generation, Freeman’s victory also became a symbol of national unity.

3. The apology to the Stolen Generation.

On February 13, 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to The Stolen Generation and their families for forceable removals beginning in the late 1800s and ending in the 1970s; "this blemished chapter in our nation's history.” Thousands of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians gathered in Canberra to watch the historic apology delivered in Federal Parliament. The apology was televised around Australia and was shown at special outdoor settings in major cities and remote indigenous communities. Many of those watching had personal experiences of the events — their shoulders shuddered with emotion as the words struck.

4. When we ended US dominance of the America's Cup.

"I don't think there has been a greater moment of pride for Australia … not only winning but the way you won." These were the words of then Prime Minister Bob Hawke after Australia won the 1983 America's Cup by 41 seconds after the lead changed several times. The victory by Australia II ended a 132-year stranglehold on the event by the United States. It was also the birth of the now iconic boxing kangaroo. Prime Minister Hawke also said any boss who gave a worker the sack from not turning up to work the next day was a "bum," and Australians no doubt began working on a monster hangover.

5. When people power freed a passenger trapped by a train.

Commuters and staff at a Perth train station worked together to free a man whose leg had become trapped between the carriage and platform. He was freed and left uninjured. We beamed. The pictures were shared around the globe and were featured on BuzzFeed, Mashable, on-air on CNN and on the homepage of the New York Times.

6. When the "Angel of Bali" stood on top of fear to rescue a fellow Bali Bombings victim.

Hanabeth Luke became known as the ‘Angel of Bali' when she was pictured by a freelance photographer helping fellow survivor Tom Singer from the burning ruin of Kuta’s Sari Club minutes after the 2002 Bali Bombings. Luke also became a reluctant poster girl for the war on terror after the image travelled around the globe, capturing an unfaltering courage and terror at Australia’s door. Singer later died as did Luke’s partner Marc Gajard. She honoured their memories by becoming an advocate for peace.

7. When Australia #putyourbatsout.

People worldwide took to social media to post images of a cricket bat at their door as a sign of respect for Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, who was killed doing what he loves on November 27, 2014. The tribute was started on Twitter by Sydney father Paul Taylor, a 48-year-old IT worker with 10 followers. It became a worldwide phenomenon, with cricketing greats Dean Jones and Sachin Tendulkar, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and even CEO of Twitter Dick Costolo climbing aboard.

8. Almost everyday ...

2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty overcame the loss of her son at the hands of his father to start a campaign against family violence.

7 times the Australian media ate itself

The media loves to talk about itself. Here’s a report I wrote for BuzzFeed on reporters reporting on reporters so hard we almost lost our minds. You can find the original post here

1. “Choppergate:” News director resigns, three journos fired after faking live crosses.

Mumbrella on YouTube

In August 2011, Nine journalists Cameron Price, Melissa Mallet were fired for faking two live crosses during reports on the search for missing Sunshine Coast schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.

The pair’s producer Aaron Wakeley was also let go and Queensland news director Lee Anderson resigned.

Presenters claimed the aircraft was hovering above the search site when it was parked on the station’s Brisbane helipad on one occasion, and circling the station’s Mt Coot-tha studios on the other.

When news of the first breach broke on media and marketing website Mumbrella, the station blamed poor weather.

However, it was later revealed that Nine faked another live cross the night before when weather was fine and management were forced to cop to both incidents.

In further evidence of the media eating the media, proof of the second deception came via rival Seven, who has a studio nearby and recorded the incident via a camera mounted on the network’s transmission tower.

News director Rob Raschke said they were ready to roll because of what happened the night before. Of course.

2. Jones and ‘Barb’ take on “latte-sipping” yahoos.



Influential Australian talkback presenter Alan Jones received a call from 86-year-old widowed mother-of-five “Barbara.”

The cat-loving, lefty-hating octogenarian was later revealed to be 22-year-old actor and stock-feed worker Ignatius Corboy — and we loved every predictable inch of this yarn.

3. Politics blogger Grog’s Gamut unmasked by The Australian. And we loved it.

Anonymous blogger Grog’s Gamut, whose criticism of coverage of the 2010 Federal Election as a “round-the-country twitter and booze tour” prompted ABC Managing Director Mark Scott to adopt a more nuanced, policy- and issues-driven approachwas outed as public servant Greg Jericho by James Massola of The Australian.

Mr Massola cited the public interest — kind of — and every Australian journalist on Twitter was enraged, except for those working at News Limited.

In an public address, Mr Scott questioned the legitimacy of The Australian’s justification for the unmasking.

“Their public interest defence was that they did this because I had mentioned Grog’s Gamut’s blog in a speech,” Mr Scott said.

“To me though, it looked more like an objection to his authority, not his anonymity. It was symbolic of a larger unwillingness by The Australian to cede to a civilian journalist the ability to shape the agenda, a role The Australian, and some other mainstream news organisations, have long had to themselves. Grog’s Gamut, like so many citizen blogs before it, had sidestepped the gatekeeper.”

Ouch. But did that end the media’s coverage of this media story? Nope.

4. Sharri Markson “punted” from Emirates Marquee at Melbourne Cup following run-in with Barrie Cassidy. Twitter froths. Reporters report.

The Australian reported that Fairfax reported that Media Editor at The Australian Sharri Markson was reportedly tossed out of Emirates’ Melbourne Cup marquee for harassing former reporter now host of Insiders on the ABC Barrie Cassidy — a show that includes many reports and reporting.

Ms Markson later claimed on Twitter that the reports of her reported turfing where unfounded.

However, this was not the end to the story, as one would hope. Journalists on Twitter responded with the heat of a thousand thumbs and one joker created a meme that will live on in our nightmares.

Oh, and Andrew Bolt put the paddles to it days later.

5. Still on Sharri — media editor goes undercover as university student to expose News Corp bias.

Fox 2000/Bushwood/Flower Films/Never Been Kissed / via  YouTube

Fox 2000/Bushwood/Flower Films/Never Been Kissed / via YouTube

Over a period of five weeks in October this year, Ms Markson covertly attended media lectures at the University of Technology in Sydney and Sydney University to uncover the “indoctrination” of students. She also secretly recorded the lectures.

The media covered itself with a warm blanket of outrage, although in fairness to the critical reporting of this incident, Ms Markson’s behaviour does raise serious ethical and legal questions.

Some students were enraged by the allegation, although one wag saw the upside:

6. Get Up!’s Simon Sheik Collapses on Q and A, Sophie Mirabella is literally unmoved.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation via YouTube

National director of lobby group GetUp! Simon Sheik collapsed on ABC’s Q&A program and Twitter erupted after Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella barely reacted.

Mr Sheik later took to Twitter to let everyone know he was okay. It’s unclear whether Mrs Mirabella cared either way.

7. Ablo ate Kevern. Media can’t imagen life thereafter.

Australia’s most-loved Twitter parody account @Rudd2000 — born out of exasperation the day after Kevin Rudd resigned from Parliament and inspired by popular parody account @Seinfeld2000, which was itself a parody account of sorts born out of frustration — ended with Twitter favourite Anthony Albanese (Ablo) eating the main character, Kevin Rudd (Kevern).

The retirement of the account, which sketched a picture of what life would be like for former Prime Minister Rudd were he still in office using savvy Internet speak and sharp satire, was met with something close to grief.

However, the pain was short-lived — Kevern Write a Book.