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Profile Liam Durkin


Liam Durkin is the editor of the Latrobe Valley Express and two other newspaper titles and a significant news contributor to Traf Daily News.  Liam was editor of Traf News for some years.

Traf District News (TDN):

“You have chosen journalism as a career but were you expected, or tempted, to go into the Durkin family potato and transport business?’

LD: ‘“There was never any pressure put on me to do that. Dad did always say that the farm was there if ever I wanted it. But no, farming was never something that I envisaged as a career. There are quite a few people in the arts sphere that have come from the Durkin family. We’ve got Patrick Durkin, who’s at the Fin Review, and cousin Catherine who’s a presenter with Fox Sports. So I guess it might be in the genes somewhat. I always enjoyed writing and telling stories.

“Nan was always on to us about our grammar growing up, so maybe it could stem from that as well. But, yeah, I guess journalism was probably something that was always on the cards for me.’

TDN: “Did you go to school here locally, or were you educated elsewhere?”

LD: “I was shipped off to boarding school right from the start. So, from year seven right to year twelve. I was at Assumption College in Kilmore.

“It was quite daunting to start with. I would have been twelve years old when I started. I was one of two very young boys in a dormitory of 16 year olds, so I had to grow up pretty quickly. A few beltings along the way, but that was all part of it. I guess it made me grow up pretty quickly and I certainly learned to fend for myself. 

“I wasn’t an excellent student in terms of flat out applying myself, but I think I applied myself when I had to and got reasonable marks in the end.”

TDN: “You are a keen sportsman, playing cricket and football. Did that come from your years at Assumption College?”

LD: “I was interested in sport regardless, but certainly it was a very sort of alpha male-dominated environment. Cricket is the sport I love the most. I enjoy football and I was pretty passionate about it when I was younger. It has tapered off a bit in recent years, but I do still play.

“It didn’t necessarily matter if you were any good or not, as long as you were playing. I think that was probably the way to earn some respect amongst your peers. If they could see you were willing to participate, that was much better than the alternative.’

“After Assumption College I had a year off because I’d been at boarding school for six years and never really had an opportunity to experience the workforce, apart from the times on the farm, but as I was only ever coming home on school holidays there weren’t many of those. So I had a year off just to dabble in the workforce and just mucked around with a few jobs here and there. 

“After that I went to Deakin’s Melbourne Campus, which was in Burwood. I studied there for four years, doing my B.A. in professional writing.

“I wouldn’t say it was a battle, but it was certainly unrelenting in terms of assignments and submitting things on time. I think there’s a misconception with university that it’s a bit of a breeze but certainly when you’re there, it’s pretty intense. 

“I was still playing cricket and footy back in the Valley. I felt it was important to keep doing that just to keep touch with my mates I had down here. So, yeah, I’d study during the week and then come home on the weekends to play, which was good. And then managed to finish up uni and graduate with an undergraduate in professional writing.”

TDN: “And then you started working for this newspaper?”

LD: “Actually, I need to thank Traf News, because I got my start here. The paper was at a bit of a crossroads. They weren’t sure who the next editor was or where it was going to be and essentially, there was an SOS put in one of the issues and basically they said that if they couldn’t find an editor, then that might be the end of Traf News. I was studying in that area, so I thought it might be a good opportunity to learn a few things about newspaper production and maybe get my foot in the door as well.

“So put my hand up at the age of 22. Luckily, two other people put their hands up as well and we all came on board which lightened the load.

“It was a bit of a whirlwind to start – a bit of a baptism of fire – but like most things, you get better the more you do it.”

TDN: “You are now 30 and I’d love to know what you think of the future.”

LD: “In terms of the newspaper game, it’s hard to quantify just where it’s heading, because even when I first started it seemed like people were talking about the end of the printed issue and moving solely to digital format. But I still feel there’s a great market and a great desire for a printed newspaper to be hitting letter boxes every week.

“It does seem like political correctness has just gone totally too far to the left or too far down one particular stream and whether there’s a way to correct that or not, I don’t know. It seems like no matter what you do, you’re going to offend someone regardless of what political views you have. It is very tricky. And this comment is probably, ironically, going to offend people, but it does seem like people enjoy being offended in this day and age.

“Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for the future is not so much fabricated facts, but fabricated evidence. If I was going to pinpoint the biggest challenge moving forward, that would be it. We have so many media streams, and that’s all well and good, but it seems like anyone who’s been to an online college or anyone who has been able to get a PHD out of a cereal box, automatically becomes an expert in a certain field. And their word is gospel and no one else can ever just disprove whatever they’ve got to say, or no one can ever dare challenge what they say. They could absolutely be off the mark, or they could absolutely be spot on. But it seems like there’s no room for disputing whatever evidence they seem to come forward with. So, yes, that term, ‘fabricated evidence’ is a major challenge.”

TDN:Thanks for your time and your insights Liam.”