His memoir is not a kiss-and-tell book, Mal Walden says, or the type that would “bite the hand that feeds me”.
Drawn from daily diaries going back 53 years, The Newsman tells “an unashamedly Melbourne story” which recognises forgotten icons of the industry as well as detailing his own career, Walden told a Press Club audience at the end of October.
Having started in the industry in 1970 the former newsreader is well placed to narrate the history of Australian TV news, and in particular its “most defining decade”, when the advent of satellites and the transition from black and white to colour, and film to tape revolutionised both content and format.
The seventies saw Walden’s own career take off, following the make-or-break assignment to cover Cyclone Tracy in Darwin, and the impacts of the Balibo Five tragedy resonate throughout the Channel Seven newsroom and beyond.
The veteran TV anchor told the audience, which included a large number of former colleagues, that compassion, credibility and capacity for communication are the attributes he considers that make a good newsreader, but that some who achieved great popularity lacked all of these qualities.
Despite a disillusionment with contemporary newsrooms that drove his early retirement Walden expressed excitement about the promise of new platforms and fresh young journalists.
There’s no desire, though, to get back in front of the camera.
Having finally launched The Newsroom, he’ll be focusing on the next books – two volumes inspired by his popular Channel Ten segment ‘Mal’s Melbourne’, he said.
As for the news, he likes Channel Nine presenter Peter Hitchener.
“Actually you’re the guy I do watch every night!” he told his friend and former colleague from the lecturn.