Journalists recall their standout stories for 2017

Mark 'Bushie' Thompson and journalist Larissa Waterson
Mark 'Bushie' Thompson and journalist Larissa Waterson

Previously from Sydney, it was a first of a kind – an encounter with a true-blue country character – that will be remembered by this journalist.

What is it about this story that sticks in your mind:

This story will always stick with me as it was one of my first encounters with a true-blue country character. It was one of my first stories as a country journo after I'd just moved from my life in Sydney.

In town for the Slim Dusty Festival, Mark 'Bushie' Thompson had an amazing story to share of his life as a man with no home, travelling around Australia since he ran away from his country home at the age of 14.

Larissa’s standout story:

He had an awesome personality and I even had a few beers with him and his mates at the festival later that day where he told me even more amazing stories. It was a funny experience that for some reason I'll carry with me forever.

What were the challenges in writing this story:

I think my only challenge with this story was trying to communicate Bushie's quirky charisma and aura without losing reader's interest (and insulting the interviewee) with a cliched and cheesy character description - still not sure if I succeeded in overcoming that challenge haha.

What kind of stories do you love to tell:

What I love about my job as a regional journo in a place like Kempsey is that, beneath the reputation of a rough town with high domestic violence rates, etc, there are so many gems of stories lying around waiting for someone to uncover and which are often discovered via an off-the-cuff conversation.

I love writing about all the awesome things that people work hard to achieve in tight-knit country towns - It's crazy to think that some of these stories, if it weren't for someone asking nosy questions, might never have been told.

Is there anything you would do differently with this story:

I wish I brought my recorder or a notepad to the beer session.  Bushie let rip with some fantastic stories about his travels which would have added some depth to the article.

I also stuffed up getting a good photo of him - the light was behind him so he was just a black outline - I had to use a photo from another story - it was a shame because he had a great smile with a really happy face.

Larissa Waterson is a journalist with the Macleay Argus.  If you have a story to share with her, email larissa.waterson@fairfaxmedia.com.au