The above weird email request was received at Little Darwin’s North Queensland sanatorium from notorious American gonzo journalist , Hunter S. Thompson ,who it seems has been sipping soda nonstop since he boarded the Spirit of Queensland train in Brisbane on his way to unsuspecting Townsville to do an exclusive fear and loathing report on the Sunshine State’s campaign trail.
|Tricky Dicky talked |
baseball with Thompson
His shoe phone, stolen from the CIA while he was covering the President Nixon election , did not respond when we urgently rang back to ask what the hell he means ...shake the hand of the famous Townsville Magpie ?
In desperation , we Googled Townsville Magpie and got what seemed to be a strong clue to the feathered mystery.
THE TOWNSVILLE MAGPIE
From 2002 to 2010, The Townsville Magpie was the most popular column in the Saturday Townsville Bulletin, with an estimated weekly readership of more than 20,000, almost half the Saturday paper’s circulation. It was christened The Magpie because the old bird’s gimlet eye was attracted to shiny little trinkets, both trivial and substantial – just like his namesake.
On his retirement in 2010 , The Magpie’s alter ego, journalist and columnist Malcolm Weatherup decided to keep doing weekly posts, with a slight change of character, offering a more edgy humorous take on politicians, the local council, Townsville Enterprise, and others near and far who would influence and regulate our lives.
Reader response was immediate and gratifying, and continues to grow steadily. The paper itself was one such organisation which merited hitherto impossible critical examination, and modern social media provided the ideal platform.
The spur for Malcolm’s personal ‘Media Watch’ came when the paper repeatedly published editorial lectures to local companies about the importance of jobs in North Queensland while at the same time stealthily sacking a third of its staff (almost 100 skilled people) to outsource jobs south and to India. None of which was reported in the paper. So Malcolm gave it detailed and unwelcome exposure, with an immediate response of both delight at the irreverence, general disgust at this behaviour, and howls of outrage from the Bulletin management.
His new independence allows him to continue to highlight some of the hidden roles of the paper itself, which at the time he left, was rapidly changing into a down-market tabloid. This was a move which he believes was a great miscalculation by a cynical News Ltd, and a grave disservice to the community from which the Bulletin derived so much financial benefit. Plummeting circulation and readership have confirmed his initial view – which he thinks is a crying shame for this city.
The Magpie’s insider knowledge of the paper’s functioning, management structure and editorial structure/policy has resulted in humorous posts which have greatly annoyed Holt Street HQ in Sydney, and prompted fruitless quasi-legal attempts to bully him (and even an uninvolved family member) into silence. No such luck.
Now entering his 48th year as a journalist, Malcolm intends to continue writing on all manner of subjects, not just the Townsville Bulletin, offering his unique take on all aspects of the community in which he loves to live.
Extra pages are being added to the Magpie’s Nest site to broaden its appeal. Hope you enjoy it and participate in the fun and information. You’ll need keep your sense of both the ridiculous and your funny-bone well oiled.
After reading this , we realized we had solved Hunter S. Thompson’s odd email message as this Weatherup guy sounds like his kind of fearless scribe . Little Darwin awaits Hunter’s arrival in Townsville in a certain state of apprehension and has arranged for an Irish doctor to hit him with a big vitamin injection when he stumbles out onto the platform , intent on hiring a fire engine red Cougar and speeding around to the Weatherup residence , where parking is a problem , and present him with a Pulitzer Prize for real journalism. Sounds like an interesting conversation between the two birds is in the offing .