Peter Hitchener has been on our screens for decades presenting the nightly news across Victoria. He is a man who has managed to stay in the game for years, still appealing to the younger generation. The energy Peter has is infectious and he can put a smile on someone’s face before he even says a word, but it hasn’t been all smooth sailing.
I visited Nine in Melbourne during the recent school holidays to interview Peter in regards to his opinion on the future of journalism. He had some great insight into this topic but Peter and I also discussed many other issues that are very relatable to today’s generation. Peter asked me if bullying was still happening in schools, as it was back when he was in school. I explained the situations that unfold today and he was shocked, he didn’t realise it had got so out of hand.
Peter’s decision to become a broadcaster came when he was in school. It was “through a combination of Shakespeare and the desire to divert attention, as a way of keeping out of the road of bullies.” Peter went to boarding school which he disliked greatly, he even made sure that I wasn’t planning to do the same! Peter’s schooling years might not have been enjoyable but since these times, he has become very successful.
“The desire to divert attention, as a way of keeping out of the road of bullies.” – Peter Hitchener
Many people in the public eye such as Peter have things they don’t like about it. I asked Peter if he disliked anything about his non-privacy status, expecting a long list of things, but I was pleasantly surprised. “No, not really. I’m very lucky because people are nice to me, not always, you get some hate stuff occasionally but you know, who doesn’t. Everyone has people who like them and people who don’t.”
Over the years that Peter has been presenting the news he has covered some big stories such as the Black Saturday Bushfires. Peter obviously loves hearing people’s stories and during the days of coverage, he spoke with people in all different circumstances, “What was interesting was how people felt the need to download their experiences to somebody who was listening. I was there during the day and people needed to talk so I got to hear a lot of stories and of course there was nothing like the poor people who were there when the fires came through, the people who fought the fires, the people who lost their lives. What they must have seen you can only imagine, it was quite horrific. But I felt privileged to be able to help or just be a listener for people.”
Aside from the devastating events, Peter has covered some great stories as well, which he has very fond memories of. His stories of zoo visits would have to be a highlight, especially one encounter from last year. “A gorilla was having a baby and just before Christmas last year they invited me there. This gorilla, they’ve trained her to present her tummy so the zoo staff could feel her tummy so they could feel the baby was in the right place. So here’s this gorilla and she’s in her enclosure about as big as this room and she’s trained to come over and sit by this little observation window and present her tummy and they said “you go and sit there”, over she came, they said, “now touch her tummy.” So I touched her tummy and looked into her eyes and we were sitting probably as close as you and I are now, or even a bit closer. I saw the eyes of this incredible, these beautiful trusting eyes of this beautiful sentient being and I thought, oh my lord, I’ll never forget this.”
Peter’s life has been full of excitement even if his schooling was troubled by bullies, he has emerged from those times stronger than ever. It was an amazing opportunity to sit down with Peter who has more energy than anyone I know. These were just some of the highlights from a very big interview. If you want to check out my article on the future of journalism, please do so HERE.