A peep into Peter’s life

9 November 2012

Written by: Erdem Koc

There are many people who can give a run-down of their day-to-day routine, but as Melbourne Channel Seven top newsreader Peter Mitchell describes, for him, every day is different from the next.

‘You can be sitting here then out of the blue you hear Peter Brock’s been killed in a car accident or Kylie Minogue has breast cancer or Steve Irwin’s been killed by a stingray barb, and your whole day gets thrown; planning and everything is re-done.’

Mitchell, 52, has been in the top job at Melbourne’s Channel Seven news desk for almost 13 years and although he has yet to find a daily routine, it’s the reason he loves it.

‘I think it’s just that day-to-day adrenaline that comes with news, and that’s what keeps everyone in this newsroom pumped, you never know what’s going to happen.’

Mitchell commenced his career in the television news industry with a cadetship at Channel Nine before commencing as a full-time sports reporter at the same network.

He admits he was still baffled as to what direction he wanted to take following his year 12 studies at The Peninsula School.

‘I sort of got to year 12 and didn’t know what to do, I was told it was dependant on exam results and all that sort of stuff.’

It was towards the end of year 12 when he began applying to become a journalist ‘everywhere’ and ultimately admits his successful application came down to luck.

‘I was just so lucky to be at the right place at the right time,’ Mitchell concedes.

‘In the end I got the cadetship at Channel Nine before the exam results came out, which was so unheard of.’

It was then Mitchell discovered his passion for sports reporting and lifted his work ethic accordingly.

‘From that moment on, it was up to me. I could sit on my bum and be lazy, but I was proactive and showed an interest in sport and ended up in the sports department.’

Mitchell went from strength-to-strength at Channel Nine and added general news reporting to his name following his outstanding work at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.

‘That was just a tremendous experience,’ he describes.

‘I always thought to have both of those strings on your bow would be great; sport and news.’

A few years later, Mitchell got a phone call from Channel Seven with an offer to present the weekend news.

‘I didn’t even think about news reading, I was just focused on doing sport,’ he says.

However, it was just too good to refuse.

‘The offer was for the weekend presenter and reporting on the news for three days throughout the week as well, so that was an attraction.’

‘And I said yeah, I’ll give it a go. I’ve only ever worked in one place at Nine, so I’ll go over to Seven and see what its like there,’ he remembers.

It was at Seven that Mitchell began to flourish his presenting and reporting skills to become one of the best in the business.

13 years later he was offered the top job and has never looked back.

‘The Seven people were really friendly and accommodating; that’s why I’ve been here ever since.’

But he says his job can be difficult through the confronting and disturbing stories he reads.

‘The real doom and gloom stories; you’ve just got to accept them for what they are and keep going and do the best you can.’

He remembers back to the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 when the Channel Seven News team travelled to the devastated area every day the following week.

‘It was really heart-wrenching to drive up there every day and be amongst people who had lost their houses, schools and everything,’ he describes.

‘There’s just these zombies walking around, and you couldn’t feel more sorry for them.’

However the stories that really shake him up after 35 years in the industry are those concerning minors.

‘The stories that really hit you and hit home are the ones involving young children. I’ve got my own family, and you have sympathy for those people involved.’

It is his five children with his wife Philippa that are his sole focus on the limited days he gets away from the Channel Seven news studio.

‘Friday now involves trying to pick the kids up from school and Saturday becomes a vital day spent with them.’

However, Mitchell does miss the chance to have a hit of golf, which is a sport he loves, admitting that it is just not viable given the scarce time he has off.

‘Gone are the days of picking up the clubs, hoisting them on the back and saying I’ll see you in five hours,’ he says.

There is no doubt that his family plays a huge role in the success of his career and he says emphatically that they deserve the time he has away from the news desk.

‘I wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t have a happy family at home behind me.’

‘They help keep me sane for sure.’

Jake Keating is a first year Bachelor of Sports Journalism student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter: @JKeats10