How TV journo shunned bright lights to make it big as a bush publisher

A former TV reporter who turned his back on the bright lights to launch his own regional media service has taken out the richest prize in rural journalism.


Oct 28, 2021, updated Oct 28, 2021

Harry Clarke and his Country Caller news website was this week awarded the $15,000 Bean Lockyer Ticehurst Award for Excellence in Regional Journalism. at the Local Government Association of Queensland annual conference.

The former Channel 9 reporter said he started the site in August 2020 with his own money because he wanted a new challenge.

His first thought was to head to London as a freelancer but when the pandemic hit, the next option was to return to his roots in Chinchilla to do news that was being ignored following the closure of the local newspaper, which has now been folded into The Courier-Mail’s website.

“It was just to get back to my roots. For some time I’d been looking for the next thing in my career,’’ Clarke said.

“It was all very timely because about 120 papers around the country stopped printing and sold their newsrooms and cut down on the number of journalists so as well as cutting the newspapers I thought the quality was lacking more and more.

“I found myself going back to visit my family and friends in Chinchilla and the rest of the state more and more often so I just thought I would make it permanent and get more out of what I love doing.

“The stories are more interesting in areas and communities that I find more interesting.’’

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He said news sites like InQueensland, The Daily Mail and showed that people wanted free access to quality news journalism.

Clarke said the first year had been tough as he built the reputation of the Country Caller.

“But I’m just getting going,” he said.

The award is sponsored by the Local Government Association of Queensland and its president and Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said Clarke’s passion for regional Queensland came through in his dedication to providing not only his community but other regional communities with a strong, independent voice. 

“He’s doing a commendable job, not just in terms of the subjects he’s covering, but in the quality and clarity of his reporting,’’ Jamieson said.

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