HINCH, DERRYN NIGEL (1944-)
Dubbed ‘the Human Headline’, Derryn Hinch has spent much of his 55-year career as a journalist and broadcaster living up to that epithet.
Born in New Zealand, Hinch began work at the age of 15 on the Taranaki Herald, but moved to Australia in 1963. He joined the Sydney Morning Herald and by 1968 was head of its New York bureau, where he remained for 11 years. He reported on the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the Watergate crisis, President Richard Nixon’s resignation and the moon landings.
For most journalists, covering such stories would be a career peak; however, Hinch, was subsequently also a newspaper editor—of the Sydney afternoon newspaper the Sun—and a television presenter on shows as diverse as Beauty and the Beast, Midday and his own current affairs vehicle, Hinch, on the Seven Network. Yet he is best known for his several stints as a radio presenter, especially on Melbourne’s 3AW, during which he several times unsuccessfully fought the law.
In what he describes as ‘the proudest moment of my life’, in 1985 Hinch announced to 3AW listeners the identity and prior convictions for child molestation of Michael Glennon, a former Catholic priest who was running a youth camp and facing court on his third set of charges. Glennon’s trial was delayed while Hinch appealed his own conviction for contempt of court all the way to the High Court, which upheld the verdict. The court ruled that his reporting of Glennon’s prior convictions had been prejudicial in law. Hinch spent 12 days in prison. In 2011, he served five months’ home detention for identifying convicted sex offenders, which he continues to argue strongly is in the public interest. In 2013 he was again convicted, after revealing details of the previous criminal history of an accused murderer on his website, http://www.humanheadline.com.au. He refused to pay a $100,000 fine and in January 2014 began a 50-day prison sentence for the offence.
Hinch’s personal life often made news: he has been married five times, twice to the actress Jackie Weaver. In July 2011, a liver transplant saved him from cancer that would have been terminal. He has written several memoirs: That’s Life (1992), The Fall and Rise of Derryn Hinch (2004), Human Headlines (2011) and The Human Deadline (2012).
Hinch has been sacked 14 times, most recently from 3AW in August 2012. He is now a public affairs commentator for the Seven Network.