Following last Thursday’s post and Crikey story on the resignation of John Cameron as ABC News Director, I received the below from his predecessor in the job, Max Uechtritz.

Hello Meg,

Obviously I heard and read about John Cameron’s resignation.

For what it is worth, my view is this:

John leaves an extraordinary legacy at the ABC.

He personally hired, groomed, mentored or steered through careers many of its finest broadcasters.

Some of these came under his wing as cadets or juniors – in his days as Head of NewsCaff in both Queensland and Victoria – and have gone on to be foreign correspondents, presenters, EPs or senior managers.

Leigh Sales springs immediately to mind as do Mark Willacy, Lisa Millar and Mark Simpkin. John had the vision and journalistic instinct and acumen to nurture and back them sometimes against the odds.

John’s management and support had direct and significant impacts on the lives and careers of scores of others already established broadcasters including Tony Jones, Barrie Cassidy, Tim Palmer, Jim Middleton, Quentin Dempster, indeed TV and radio current affairs and TV news anchors, EPs and state editors around the country.

And I can tell you from personal experience there’s no better person to have next to you in the trenches – not surprising given both his grandfathers served at Gallipoli.

He was a brave advocate and defender of the ABC and especially the news and current affairs division and staff more often and on more issues in the past 25 years than anyone could imagine .He put his job and livelihood on the line many times standing up for what he and we knew was right – not least of all during the Jonathan Shier years and once, memorably, in a Senate Inquiry over a major Brisbane issue. A search might unearth his entertaining exchange with then opposition member Richard Alston.

Apart from the role call of achievements you and others have listed in his years as Director, John as National Editor was fundamental to the birth and rise of programmes like Lateline (circa Tony Jones) and Insiders and the NewsCaff programming on ABC Asia-Pacific (now Australia Network).

A pedant on standards – as others have pointed out – he cared enough to hurt when they slipped.

John may be personally understated but his professionalism contribution to the ABC and Australian journalism cannot be overstated.

(I don’t think I need to declare, but of course you know John is a close friend and former colleague).

Best,

Max

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