After five years at Channel Nine in Brisbane, BGS Old Boy Harry Clarke ’07 was set to live his ‘London dream’ as a freelance journalist in the UK. But COVID-19 forced him to create job opportunities closer to home – literally.
Moving back to his hometown of Chinchilla, Clarke started his own news service in 2020, with award-winning results.
“It dawned on me that this was a perfect opportunity to set up a regional and rural news business,” he said. “I perceived a real void – 120 rural newspapers had closed around the country, going online only. I set up Country Caller to report on life and issues that affect people in the bush.”
One of Clarke’s first stories – an investigation into coal seam gas bubbling in the Condamine River catchment – was awarded the Australian Star Prize for Rural Broadcasting and is in the running for an international Agricultural Journalism prize.
As editor of a multimedia news service ‘advocating for country Queensland’, Clarke’s focus is often on resource development in the Surat basin.
“This is the center of the coal seam gas and now the renewable energy industry and not a lot is being reported from the ground. We’re holding to account the development of the resources industry, which obviously affects people’s way of life in the regions,” he said.
“The issues in that initial story has abated for now, but the risk is still there – old historic bore holes can pose a threat to farming waterways. Stakeholders are now aware of the risk.”
Clarke followed his grandfather Ian ‘44, father Tom ‘70, and brothers Peter ‘03 and Jim ’04 into boarding at BGS. “I loved boarding. It gave me a chance to experience city life and I enjoyed making friends immediately in the boarding house.”
In the classroom, English stood out as his favourite subject. “The only As I got were in English – I was lucky to have good English teachers at BGS,” he said.
“I like the variety of the stories that happen in regional Queensland. I see it as an opportunity to report on all kind of issues – from hard-hitting political stories to the life and colour of people in rural areas.”
And Clarke’s plans for a freelance career overseas? “I’ll see what I can make of the Country Caller first; that’s my priority right now. That’s the great thing about journalism – you never know where the profession will take you. Maybe one day I’ll start a London Caller, you never know.”
Harry Clarke is pictured kayaking in the Condamine catchment for his award-winning story.