Interview: Tim Pope, ABC Producer


At only 22, Tim Pope is an extremely hard worker - a description that can be easily granted to anyone who works odd hours that includes 2am till 9am while most of us are tucked into bed, sleeping peacefully. 
He is meticulous, on the ball and doesn't forget the letters of the phonetic alphabet which is something he commonly uses in his job. He was also lucky enough to study journalism at one of Australia's most prestigious courses at RMIT Univeristy in Melbourne. Hopefully one day we will see him achieve his dream as the host of Media Watch. 

Why did you want to become a journalist?
I didn’t really want to be a journalist to begin with. I really hate being bored and a job where something new happens [almost] every day sounded like the best choice. I didn’t realise until quite late in the day that I actually had a passion for news.

Where did you study? And do you think much of what you learnt at university was useful in relation to your job today?
I did a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) at RMIT in Melbourne. It’s a fantastic course and I use the skills developed in the core subjects every day. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not going to emerge from uni butterfly-style, as a fully developed journalist. You do some of your most important learning on the job.

When and how did you start at the ABC?
I started at the ABC in June 2009 as an autocue operator for ABC News Breakfast (then on ABC2) working 5-9am 3 days a week. I got this job off the back of an internship on the show. After 9 months on autocue I was offered casual work as a producer and I have been a full-time casual since then.

So far, what have been some of your most memorable experiences? 
In my current role I meet a lot of interesting or prominent people and work with the team to cover a lot of big stories. My most memorable moment would probably have to being present in the studio and seeing a jaw-dropping, on-air mistake that landed us on Media Watch.

What are your hours? And what is a typical work day for you?
My hours can differ. Most commonly I work as an on-air producer and my shift runs from 2am to 9am (or 9.30). I sometimes work as a planning producer for the show, working overnight from 4pm to midnight. On-air production is a mixed bag; tasks are assigned differently every day. Some days I’ll be handling packages and some days I’ll be organising live interviews and crosses. But the pressures of rolling news mean there’s always crossover and anyone who has time does whatever needs to be done. Planning can be slightly more relaxed, organising guests and crosses and picking up stories for the following day.

What are some of the funny things that have happened to you?
There’s always something to laugh at when you work in a newsroom.

What has been your favourite topic covered?
Because I’m a producer not a reporter I don’t cover topics as such – But I would say working on the coverage for Election 2010 has been a highlight.

What is your opinion on the way the ABC treats journalism compared to other places?
(This might sound like I’m trotting out the party line) The ABC really does have a commitment to quality journalism. The Melbourne newsroom, where I work, has a very positive culture of constructive criticism.

Who do you look up to in your industry and why?
I admire Tony Jones and Virginia Trioli – both are very talented interviewers and have the ability to cut right to the heart of the topic with the interviewee. Another person I admire – this one might seem a little off the wall – is Jane Cowan who most people will remember for covering the Bushfires Royal Commission for the ABC. Jane is a supremely talented reporter and interviewer and I wish I had her ability and drive.

What advice would you give to others wanting to become r journalists? And whats the best advice you were given along the way?
I hesitate before offering any kind of advice to aspiring journalists. When I was taking my first steps in journalism I was reminded to think about WHY I was doing it – that was a very important piece of advice given to me by an experienced reporter. Essentially he said to me “I hope you don’t want to change the world”.

What are your long term goals? Where do you hope your career to go?
 I really haven’t got long term career expectations. At this stage I haven’t discovered all my strengths and weaknesses. I could be a fantastic reporter, I could be bad at it – I might be more suited to interviewing and presenting. My pipe dream has always been to present Media Watch.

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