To say that Hugh Riminton’s book Minefields is a memoir of one of Australia’s most prolific journalists, who has travelled to nearly 50 countries in his career, would be depriving the book of its deeper message: that journalism as it used to be – the adventurous, curious, and monolithic creature – is now largely gone.
Hugh transports us into his past, where public figures as far reaching as Martin Luther King and David Lynch influenced him. As a young man Hugh displayed high levels of intelligence and curiosity, but his talent was quickly plagued by a drinking habit. Throughout his adolescence Hugh drank to sickly excess and smoked dope, but at age seventeen he was given a lucky break at a local newspaper in New Zealand, and all of a sudden lost the urge to drink and smoke dope. In a way, journalism saved him from alcoholism.
As he moves into his twenties, inspired heavily by Jack Kerouac, Hugh kindles a sense of wanderlust, and accordingly takes a job in Perth to read the news as a C-grade journalist. Integrating into the sunburnt country as a British-born-Kiwi is tricker than he imagined, involving a crash course in social education from how to talk to women, to the unwritten laws of mateship, and how to shed his accent and adopt an Aussie one. It doesn’t take long for him to start working in Melbourne, where he is first to the scene for harrowing incidents, such as the Russell Street Bombing in 1986.
Not long after that, Hugh is given his first foreign correspondent assignment, covering the 1987 coup in Fiji. And from there, his life only grows in excitement and grandeur. He encounters big personalities in the newsroom and experiences some of history’s most important events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall. He documenting the past forty years, visiting nearly 50 countries along the way, with a healthy combination of luck and talent.
However Minefields is, at its core, a farewell to journalism as the paragon of reporting events. Hugh acknowledges that this role is now fulfilled by the public in its now de-centralised way – through smartphone videos ripped straight from the scene, or Donald Trump’s preference of tweeting his thoughts rather than calling a press conference. He has written this book as a homage to the good old days – and what days they were.
It’s an exciting read, not only because of Hugh’s turbulent life, but his gift as a writer. Tracing his life from cadet to award-winning journalist, there’s not a dull moment in these tight, easily-palatable chapters. His journey to the planet’s extremes, through war-torn countries, riots, massacres, and of course the titular minefields are as action-packed as a Matthew Reilly novel.
About the author
Hugh Riminton is a familiar face to millions of Australians. He is an award-winning journalist, humanitarian, news presenter and foreign correspondent of many year’s experience. Currently a senior reporter for Network Ten, Hugh has been a foreign correspondent for CNN and the Nine Network and the political editor at Channel Ten. He is a foundation board member of Soldier On, which supports Australian Defence personnel who have suffered through their service in recent wars and a foundation board member of the John Mac Foundation, a charity set up by NSW Australian of the Year Deng Adut to honour his brother by promoting peace in South Sudan and providing scholarships for people from refugee backgrounds.