An agent of real charge

Arthur Penlington has turned his pen to a new kind of writing in Noosa.
Arthur Penlington has turned his pen to a new kind of writing in Noosa. John Mccutcheon

ARTHUR Penlington is a man who has embraced the saying: "The world is my oyster."

From his early days working in the print media, Arthur knew he wanted to see the world and at the first opportunity, he did just that.

His mother recalls him wanting to be a journalist from an early age, dreaming of travelling to foreign shores and covering events of world importance.

And Arthur remained true to his dream.

"My mum always recalled I would have been only six or seven when I said I wanted to be a news-paper reporter," he remembered.

"I've always been interested in people and events and places and as I've got older, I've realised it's a big old world out there.

"I studied politics at university but I knew the whole time I was at university that when I got out, I wanted to go and work for news-papers."

Despite this, Arthur has enjoyed a long career working mostly in broadcasting and to a great extent for the BBC.

He admits getting into broadcast was something he had never set out to do.

But a friend told him about a job at the BBC in London - an opportunity that would certainly allow him to see the world.

Getting the gig wasn't easy, though. "The interview for that job was the toughest grilling I've ever had in my life," Arthur said.

"There were seven people that sat round me in a semicircle and they grilled for almost an hour."

With the BBC, his first taste of reporting outside London was covering the conflict in Northern Ireland - an assignment he described as an eye-opener for a young journalist and one that brought tragic events to his doorstep.

Soon after his deployment to Northern Ireland he took off to cover the Gulf War and before too long, he became known as the journalist who was willing to be posted to any corner of the globe to cover the news.

In a career spanning 30 years as a journalist on the frontline and as a news producer,

Arthur has witnessed the best and worst of humanity.

But he believes more than ever in the power of the media to shine a light on injustices in the world and be the catalyst for change and a humanitarian response where necessary.

This was especially true in helping African people.

Arthur said he was proud to have seen changes achieved in the aftermath of reporting the Rwandan genocide which took the lives of about 800,000 Africans.

He also remembered a story he covered in Angola after the civil war when starvation was rampant.

"When we got there, the people were just walking skeletons," he said.

"I saw emptiness. There was just no life about them.

"The only food we saw that anyone had eaten there was a rat they were roasting on an open flame.

"We eventually got the pictures back and some of the stuff was so harrowing that some of the aid agencies in Britain launched an immediate appeal.

"But that was one of the things where I thought, 'This has

actually achieved something. I'm glad I've done this'."

After his lengthy work in the field abroad, Arthur decided to accept a job in London and was part of the team that founded BBC News 24.

His role as senior news editor was highly demanding but also extremely exciting and rewarding as one of the first stations in the world to produce 24-hour live television news.

After a few testing years, BBC News 24 started to find its feet and make waves in the industry, taking out the award for News Channel of the Year at the Monte Carlo Film Festival in 2003.

Arthur said that he recalled receiving the award at the ceremony but was so swept up in the moment that he did not realise that he had actually been given the award meant for (Australia's internationally renowned producer) Reg Grundy for a lifetime achievement in television.

Now his journey has led him to a laidback existence in Noosa where he says he spends most of his time "playing lots of bad golf" and working on a crime-thriller novel he hopes to have published.

Arthur, at 52, said he had spent six years away from the dead-lines and demands of the broadcast industry but his desire to travel had returned.

"I can feel a bit of wanderlust coming back now," he said.

"I suspect travel is probably where I am getting to.

"I think I'll put on the backpack and head off.

"I love going off and seeing life (and) meeting the people who are sharing the planet with me."

>> Read more lifestyle stories.

Topics:  journalist writer

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