If you ever need tips on how to make a journalist squirm, you can ask Jonathan Holmes, presenter of the ABC’s Media Watch. He’s also a regular contributor to The Drum on questions of media ethics and etiquette.
In his 40-odd years as a journalist, producer and documentary maker, Holmes has asked many tougher questions of his interviewees than the ones we put to him. We did ask him about his feelings on climate policy, but he dodged that one. Perhaps we could have pressed him on the unusual mass nudity event he triggered across the tweeting latte belt by using the word "pwned" during the final episode of Media Watch for 2009 — but on the other hand that one’s probably best left in the past. Did anybody at newmatilda.com verify that it was Jonathan Holmes from the ABC answering these questions and not an imposter? Well, yes — to the best of our ability. We can assure you that we have fact-checked most of his answers and they are at least plausible …
1. What’s the headline you’d most like to see on the front page of a daily newspaper?
"SORRY, WE GOT IT WRONG!
Thank you, Media Watch, for setting us straight"
2. If you could oblige everyone in Australia to click through to one webpage, which one would it be?
3. What is one thing you’ve always wondered about economics but were too afraid to ask?
Why does everything go up in price until I decide to buy it, and down in price thereafter? Surely I can’t have that much market power all on my own?
4. When did you last eat a meat pie?
Can’t remember. But I do have a Big Mac every Friday night while I’m scripting Media Watch. It’s quick and cheap and fills me with the necessary bile.
5. What’s the oldest thing in your fridge?
A jar of lime pickles. I think it dates from 2001.
6. Has anyone got a climate change policy you agree with? Who?
Ha! Think I’d fall for that one? Andrew Bolt reads newmatilda.com doesn’t he?
7. When was the first time you changed your mind on something important?
When I was three, I thought that jumping off the front of a small boat being propelled at 7 knots by an outboard motor would be a fun thing to do. Thanks to a quick-witted boatman, the propeller was out of the water before my head reached the stern of the boat. So I still had a mind to change.
8. What’s the household chore you relish the most?
I don’t relish household chores. Although once a year or so I get the urge to polish the silver candlesticks I inherited from my mum. Then they go back in the cupboard for another year.
9. What sort of shoes do you wear to work?
10. What campaigning tactic do you most want to see in this year’s federal election?
Idiotic tweets that we can lampoon on Media Watch.
11. Nominate a new public holiday.
The iHoliday. The internet would be switched off worldwide. No papers, no TV, no radio, no telephones of any description, no Gameboys and Nintendos and X-Boxes and Playstations would function. Everyone would have to talk to each other.
12. If you could go tomorrow anywhere in Australia for a holiday, where would you go?
Margaret River. Or the Kimberley. Or a couple of days in the Whitsundays on James Packer’s yacht would be nice.
13. What’s your favourite YouTube video?
Right now, this one. Media Watch‘s new executive producer, Lin Buckfield, in her halcyon days.
14. If you were given $5 million, what would you spend it on?
Help my adult kids buy places to live. Provide for my daughter’s education, and my grandkids too. Maybe get a house with a bigger backyard. Give away a chunk once I’ve worked out who to give it to. The usual stuff.
15. Who would you most like to sit next to on a long haul flight?
Big Harto. He’d get apoplexy when he found out who his neighbour was. With any luck I’d have an empty seat next to me for most of the flight.
16. What trivia question/topic will you beat everyone else in the pub to the buzzer on?
I’m pretty good at useless geography. What’s the capital of Burkina Faso? Where is the Sea of Okhotsk? That kind of thing.
17. Complete this sentence. I’d like to hear Kevin Rudd say …
"From now on, I’m going to get eight hours sleep a night and concentrate on the big stuff."
18. Name someone in Australian public life who deserves a promotion.
Greg Combet. Put him somewhere he can make his own mistakes instead of clearing up after everyone else’s.
19. In 10 words or less, summarise your food philosophy.
I know what food is, and I know what philosophy is. What’s "food philosophy"? (Sorry, that’s 14 words.)
20. What question should we ask our next interviewee?
If Jonathan Holmes fell under a bus, who would you like to see hosting Media Watch?
BONUS QUESTION from our last interviewee:
Whose disappearance from public life would greatly enrich the national conversation?
The national conversation isn’t a zero-sum game, especially now that the internet provides an infinite space in which to hold it. So I don’t see how anyone’s disappearance from public life would enrich it. The more the merrier I say: left-wing loonies, right-wing nutters, and everything in between.
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