Peter Mitchell: an honorary Docklander
This month’s Docklander doesn’t require much of an introduction. While he may not live in Docklands, the Seven Network’s leading news anchor of 21 years Peter Mitchell reckons he’s “one of the longest serving employees in Docklands”, having read the news from Harbour Esplanade since March 2002.
Having marked 21 years this year reading the network’s six o’clock Melbourne bulletin, nearly all of his time at the news desk has been served right here in Docklands with Seven one of the first major employers to relocate to the precinct in 2002.
“We premiered Seven News from here in March 2002, so 20 years and we’ve seen all of this [Docklands] grow – none of this was here,” Mr Mitchell told Docklands News. “I reckon I’m one of the longest serving employees in Docklands. I love working here, I think it’s great.”
With the urban renewal of Docklands having first started in 1997, what was formerly a working dock has undergone incredible transformation in a short space of time.
And having been a witness to much of that change during his time working in Docklands, Mr Mitchell said he could still recall his first experience reporting ahead of the first-ever game at what was then Colonial Stadium – an early victim of rapid development.
“The first match [was] at the then Colonial Stadium and, believe it or not, Port Adelaide played Essendon in the first game and Essendon was given a training session on Colonial Stadium on the Wednesday afternoon before the first match,” he said.
“[Former Essendon coach] Kevin Sheedy said to the guy from the stadium, ‘just tell me where the coaches’ boxes are …’. They looked at each other and he replied, ‘uh, just leave that with us’ …”
“They [the stadium] didn’t plan for coaching boxes, so what they did was quickly rip out some seats and put up these ply coaches boxes which are in the positions where the current coaches boxes are now!”
Reflecting on 21 years as the trusted face of one of Melbourne’s leading prime-time news bulletins, having started with the network as a reporter in 1988, he said it had been “a privilege be the person at the end of the day who puts the icing on the cake from everyone else’s hard work.”
“I’ve just been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time, and had some lucky breaks, and once I got the job it’s been fantastic because for a guy who takes an interest in what’s going on around him, it’s a fantastic job,” Mr Mitchell said.
“People sometimes say, ‘yeah but you’re reading the news every night, how boring!’ and I’ll say, ‘well, it’s not boring – no two bulletins are ever the same, there’s always something happening, and it’s that curiosity that we have that keeps us going – the breaking news and all that sort of stuff is when the adrenaline kicks in.”
“My main job is just to not stuff it up and make sure you just present it well and do it justice.”
With the Seven News bulletin renowned for nearly always leading with a local story, the worlds of it and Docklands News are perhaps not as far apart as what many might think! Mr Mitchell said when it came to prioritising local news, its newsroom had “quite a consensus over that.”
“Our newsroom is very egalitarian that way in that we all put our opinion in and say, ‘no, perhaps this should lead’ and mainly we focus on local news, and if you want international news, you’re probably perhaps better off going elsewhere,” he said.
Proud of the opportunity his profile provides him to do good in the community, Mr Mitchell pointed to the examples of Seven’s long association with the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal and the FightMND Big Freeze as the sort of inspiration that helps keep him going in the top job.
And at 62, Melbourne’s (and Docklands’) leading anchor is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon; here’s to many more in Docklands, Peter! •