EDITOR: Kerry White when he was the editor of the South Burnett Times and the Central and North Burnett Times in 1984. (Photo: Contributed)
EDITOR: Kerry White when he was the editor of the South Burnett Times and the Central and North Burnett Times in 1984. (Photo: Contributed)

PAPERS, PROTESTS, PREMIER: Ex-editor reflects on the ‘Times’

KERRY White created and witnessed history during his time as the editor of the South Burnett Times and Central and North Burnett Times during the early '80s.

From redesigning and modernising the mastheads to rubbing shoulders with the Queensland Premier at the time, Mr White said his three years in Kingaroy were memorable.

"It was a bit of a dramatic time," he said.

At one point the paper reported on some industry trouble after receiving anonymous information that the union was divided.

"We had all of these unions marching out the front of the (newspaper) office, and A Current Affair came up from Brisbane on the chopper," he said.

Mr White started his journalism career in his late 20s at The Chronicle in Toowoomba after completing national service in the Vietnam War.

Mr White then moved onto the Sydney Morning Herald as a sub editor, before he used these skills at the helm of the Kingaroy office from 1980.

The new editor was responsible for redesigning both mastheads of the paper.

"It was just a floating two-column masthead and just thrown together a bit," Mr White said.

"I tried to add a bit more design, I had a bit of a forte in design, and instead of a floating masthead I thought we needed a more powerful masthead.

"The big thing was to redesign the paper to give it a bit more oomph."

RECORDING HISTORY: Former South Burnett Times and Central and North Burnett Times editor Kerry White looks back at an edition in 1984 with a historic four-page wraparound about the Tarong Power Station opening. (Photo: Contributed)
RECORDING HISTORY: Former South Burnett Times and Central and North Burnett Times editor Kerry White looks back at an edition in 1984 with a historic four-page wraparound about the Tarong Power Station opening. (Photo: Contributed)

The Central and North Burnett Times was originally only based around Gayndah and Mundubbera, but took over the Monto Herald during Mr White's time in the Burnett.

"We amalgamated all of the papers to the Central and North Burnett Times with Gayndah, Mundubbera, Monto and including Biggenden," he said.

The Burnett papers gave many journalists their first start to their career, including Shirley Sinclair who went on to be a senior journalist at the Sunshine Coast Daily and Janelle Miles who has been the Courier Mail health reporter for many years.

Another former Burnett journalist, Greg Jackson (died 2004) ended up as a senior media adviser with the State Government and Opposition Leaders.

Mr White came on board as the editor in Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen's local electorate towards the end of the Queensland Premier's 19 years in office.

"Joh always had trouble remembering names, (Lady) Flo would always nudge him to go and say hi to Kerry White," he said.

 

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The Tarong Power Station was also built and officially opened in the early '80s.

Mr White said they produced possibly the first newspaper wraparound at the time as a special edition to commemorate the power station opening.

Being the editor of the paper in a community like the South Burnett was not always easy.

"There was still a bit of competition between Kingaroy and Murgon," he said.

"Murgon was a bit critical of the paper."

Mr White used to transpose pages 1 and 3 and switch the stories around to create two different copies of the paper.

"So Murgon would be sort of getting their own paper," he said.

Some of the biggest stories that passed over the editor's desk included the peanut board government inquiry, the power station, changes in Cherbourg and Sir Joh's political career.

After finishing up with The Times in 1984, Mr White became a media advisor for the education department before working as a press media advisor in 1986.

He then moved back to the newspaper world in 1990 to become the managing editor of the Dalby Herald after APN took over.