Our roving reporter Betina Hughes eyes off new challenge

ALL SMILES: Me at a job earlier this year at St Heliers Correctional Facility's vegetable farm.
ALL SMILES: Me at a job earlier this year at St Heliers Correctional Facility's vegetable farm.

I STARTED as a journalist at the Muswellbrook Chronicle in February 2013, not sure what to expect.

Naturally, as a budding journalist, I had questions running through my head.

Would I be like Lois Lane? Would I interview famous people? What is the Fairfax Style Guide?

It wasn't long before I realised what an exciting and unique journey I was on.

Over the years I have had interviews that have moved me to tears, and stories that were so sweet I couldn’t stop smiling.

There was one moment in 2015 that particularly stood out to me.

It helped me understand the gravity of this simple title - journalist.

We were preparing our coverage of the Gallipoli Centenary, and I was working back at the office to do some research.

Searching through the online Trove resources, I came across a 100-year-old edition - the Muswellbrook Chronicle, April 21, 1915.

I looked at my desk calendar – April 21, 2015.

In a sudden burst of curiosity, I flipped through the pages to find articles that still stand in my memory.

They spoke of the bravery of Aussie soldiers and the latest on the war’s progress around the world.

My mouth was wide open.

Here was a scene I knew of well; that I had heard of at school and Anzac services growing up.

But, I was reading it as it had been reported to Muswellbrook, when they didn’t know how the War-To-End-All-Wars would end.

There I was, exactly 100 years later, sitting in the office of the same publication – with goose bumps.

It was then I started to realise I had an important job to do.

I would be telling your stories, as they were unfolding.

Writing history as it happened, for you all to reflect on in the future.

I didn’t take this opportunity lightly.

The Muswellbrook Chronicle, and the community it serves, have been a huge part of my life for almost five years.

If I could go back and start my career elsewhere, I wouldn't.

Working here has made me the journalist I am today, and I hope to always improve on that in future roles - including the one I am moving to at The Maitland Mercury.

I would like to take this time to thank the amazing, hilarious, and kind-hearted people I have worked with in the Hunter Valley News and Muswellbrook Chronicle office over the years – including Kerrie, Donna, and Eddy.

We have had some great times, and been through lots of change together.

I will miss you!

To Jordy and Caitlin, I am sad I couldn’t work with you for longer – we have laughed so much in such a short time.

Finally, to my editor Rod Thompson (who will read this before it’s printed – risky, I know) - thank you for all your support.

I have learned a lot from you, and am grateful for the encouragement and editorial guidance.

Thank you for believing I could do it, and taking a chance on me straight out of uni.

It’s almost May!

As for being Lois Lane, I have met my Superman and we will be getting married later this year.

This new career step will allow us to move closer to where we will base our newlywed life together.

I am grateful, not just for the interviews and stories, but the conversations I’ve had with the people of Muswellbrook, and the relationships I’ve built.

Thank you for allowing me to document your moments; your highs and lows.

I cannot believe today is my last day at the Muswellbrook Chronicle, but I will be back soon to visit.

Until next time,

Betina Hughes


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