Thursday, May 11, 2017

Vale Mark Colvin


Awful news. Vale Mark Colvin. A gentleman of journalism.
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) May 11, 2017

Mark Colvin, the man who watched the world for Australia ...

A powerful journalistic force: Mark Colvin with Richard Fidler

The second of two conversations with the late Mark Colvin, presenter of ABC Radio's PM program.
 


Deb Richards:




One terrific trip filming in the US took us driving from Washington through Delaware, Connecticut, Boston and on to Wisconsin. The story was about patenting genes, but the road trip was dominated by music of the 60s and 70s playing on the hire car radio. Having started at Double J he knew most of the lyrics, and with the film crew in the front, we sang our way to Wisconsin.

He good-naturedly put up with my off-tune notes until we got to Whiter Shade of Pale. When that started, he put his foot down: "Deb, you can ruin the whole canon of the 70s ...

I loved Mark, and loved working with him.

Ginny Stein:


Early this month, I went to see the play Mark Colvin's Kidney. The next day I was walking past his desk as he was preparing for PM. I asked him if he had seen it, to which he succinctly replied, "yes".

I asked him what he thought of it.
"You don't honestly think I could make an accurate assessment of it myself?" he replied. "Better you ask someone else."

Matt Liddy And Colin Gourlay

Journalism sent Mark Colvin out into the world, and when he became too ill to travel, it allowed him to keep bringing the world to us ...


Last year Colvin wrote the book Light and Shade: Memoirs of a Spy’s Son — a personal story of how his father waged a secret war against communism during the Cold War, while his son came of age as a journalist during the tumultuous Whitlam and Fraser years.


The veteran broadcaster's rich tones, quick wit and easy grasp of a vast array of subject matter - from pop culture to politics, from foreign affairs to the affairs of the famous - made him a one-stop shop for what was going on in the world, whether on Radio National's flagship current affairs program PM or on Twitter, (Mark Colvin (@Colvinius) | Twitter) a medium he took to like a fish to water.
But now, the stream has run dry. At 65, Colvin has finally succumbed to the litany of health woes that had dominated his last 23 years on this planet.


Story image for mark colvin from ABC OnlineLeigh Sales reflects on the life of Mark Colvin 
Story image for mark colvin from ABC LocalMark Colvin, it was a privilege to be your friend

Story image for mark colvin from The GuardianFederal budget 2017: Turnbull and Shorten pay tribute to ABC's ...


Mark Colvin was an Australian journalist and broadcaster. Based in Sydney, he was the presenter of PM—one of the flagship Australian radio current affairs programs on the ABC Radio network—from 1997 to 2017. Wikipedia
Died: 11 May 2017
Books: Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy's Son

Story image for mark colvin from ABC OnlineVia MO'N Mark Colvin's kidney donation becomes a theatre play










Story image for mark colvin from The Sydney Morning HeraldHow I found out my dad was a MI6 spy: ABC's Mark Colvin



Journalism sent Mark Colvin out into the world, and when he became too ill to travel, it allowed him to keep bringing the world to us.
The veteran broadcaster's rich tones, quick wit and easy grasp of a vast array of subject matter - from pop culture to politics, from foreign affairs to the affairs of the famous - made him a one-stop shop for what was going on in the world, whether on Radio National's flagship current affairs program PM or on Twitter, a medium he took to like a fish to water.
But now, the stream has run dry. At 65, Colvin has finally succumbed to the litany of health woes that had dominated his last 23 years on this planet.
Born in London in 1952, Colvin came from a long line of men bred for the military and for shaping the world. His grandfather was commander of the Royal Australian Navy at the outbreak of World War Two. His father was a British diplomat. He was also a spy for MI6, a fact of which Mark remained ignorant until he visited his father in the US in the late 1970s, as he was en route to London to take up a post as a foreign correspondent for the ABC. The beans were spilled only because the house was to be filled with other spies.
"My dad was a weird guy - he got married in secret," Colvin said in an interview with his son, Will, for online magazine sneaky in 2015. "Spies are weird, you know. They have spy habits that they just move into their private lives."
His father's day job as a diplomat sent the Colvin family to various postings: young Mark spent his formative years in Oslo, Vienna, Kuala Lumpur and London. Adult Mark could speak French, Italian and Spanish, as well as a little German.
After his parents divorced, Colvin was sent to boarding school; his mother relocated to Australia, while his father was posted to Mongolia. On his gap year, Colvin visited his mother in Canberra, where he found work as a photographer.
After graduating from Oxford in 1974, Colvin staggered rather than strode into journalism. In between came a brief and unhappy flirtation with the prospect of being a builder's labourer, a career where his command of world politics and classical allusions might feasibly have fallen on deaf ears.
He became a foundation staff member on the ABC's fledgling Sydney youth radio station 2JJ (which would, of course, eventually go national as Triple J).
Filmmaker Haydn Keenan knew him from those days, and still occasionally bumped into him on the streets of Sydney.
"He was such a vivacious polymath," said Keenan on Thursday, still digesting the news that Colvin was gone. "He loved everything - news, music, movies, politics, the lot. There was an innate interest there, and that meant he was a broadcaster who could stand his ground with the experts. If you followed his Twitter feed, you could see the incredible breadth of his reading and his knowledge."
In 1979, Colvin moved to TV, as one of the first reporters on the ABC's Nationwide current affairs program (Andrew Olle and Paul Murphy were colleagues there). The following year, aged 27, he was posted to London as a correspondent. He arrived, he recalled years later, "as the greenest of green recruits".
He covered the rise of Solidarity in Poland, and the hostage crisis in Iran. He was traumatised by the death of his Persian interpreter, whose body was dumped outside a Tehran prison. But it was an assignment in 1994, while working for 7.30 Report, that would have the most profound impact on his life.
In Rwanda to cover the unfolding genocide, he contracted an airborne virus. Months later, a specialist in London diagnosed the cause of the chronic fatigue and joint pain as Wegener's granulomatosis, a rare inflammation of the blood vessels. Soon after, his kidneys failed. The drugs he was prescribed turned his hips to chalk; both needed to be replaced.
In 1997, somewhat the worse for wear, he returned to Australia to take the helm at Radio National's PM, a role in which he remained - enforced absences due to ill health aside - until the end.
He was bowed, but not beaten. In 2011, he told the SMH that "for the last 16 years I have proceeded on the basis that I did not necessarily have very long to live. Not in a tragic way. I have not been going around like someone who has three months left, it's just that I am very aware of mortality."
Three days a week, he had dialysis. It left him exhausted, but it didn't stop him working. "I get up very late and just stagger into work at three in the afternoon," he told Four Corners in 2013.
In 2012, he received a donated kidney from Mary-Ellen Field, a woman he had first interviewed, then befriended via an email correspondence. She had been Elle Macpherson's manager, a relationship that came to an end over the secret News of the World tapes (Macpherson believed Field had been leaking information to the tabloid press; she hadn't).
Ever scrupulous in his journalistic practices, Colvin foresaw an issue with this immense act of generosity. "When Mary-Ellen Field offered her kidney to Mark Colvin, he immediately declared a potential conflict of interest to his superiors," Leigh Sales noted on 7.30in 2013. "And he's not reported her story since."
The remarkable tale of their relationship was dramatised by Tommy Murphy, whose play Mark Colvin's Kidney debuted in March at Belvoir Street Theatre in Sydney.
Murphy worked with Colvin for two years on the play's development, but the first time the subject knew what the finished article would be like was when he attended opening night, with Field.
"He hadn't read it in advance," said Murphy. "He treated me as he wanted to be treated as a journalist - he didn't want to interfere."
And did he have any criticisms?
"He told me the brass buttons on his father's jacket were inaccurate, and I told him we'd blown the costume budget on Elle Macpherson's wig so there was nothing we could do about it."
Murphy says Colvin called him on Monday to say goodbye. "I know it would have been a long list of people he was calling, but I was honoured to be on it."
Colvin wasn't angry about his plight, Murphy says, or bitter. He was, rather, "fatalistic". But given his escalating health issues - he had in recent years also been diagnosed with melanoma and lung cancer - perhaps the better word would be realistic.
He once claimed his kidney function was only at about 5 per cent. But his mental capacity was never less than 100.

"I've never met anyone who knew so much and could use that knowledge to help shine a light on something, so that you as his friend, or the listener, always learnt something new," said Rafael Epstein, host of ABC Melbourne's Drive radio program.
As he wrote in his 2016 memoir Light and Shadow, Mark Colvin bows out knowing "that despite near-death experiences and chronic illness, I have had what AB Facey famously called A Fortunate Life".
And fittingly, he had one last message for his 103,000 twitter followers on his way out.
Shortly after his death was announced, a short message popped up from @colvinius. "It's all been bloody marvellous," it read.