Hamish Macdonald to host TEN Newsnight

By David Knox on May 21, 2012 / Filed Under News, Top Stories 34

At just 31 years of age TEN’s Hamish Macdonald already has some of his dream jobs in journalism under his belt.

He’s been named Young Journalist of the Year by the British Royal Television Society, reported for Channel 4 and ITV, presented for Al Jazeera News, and been nominated for the Walkleys, Quills and Logies.

A self-confessed “news junkie” now he’s about to front his own late-night show, TEN Newsnight, to air at 10:30pm Monday to Thursday on TEN.

The 45 minute show will feature news, interviews, music performances, social media trends, weather, finance and the return of Sports Tonight.

As tipped by TV Tonight, the ‘agenda-setting weeknight news and public affairs program,’ hopes to get the jump on the stories that will define the following day.

“We’re getting away from the idea that late shows are putting the day to bed and embracing the fact that in the global 24 hour news world that timeslot is actually the start of the next day’s agenda,” Macdonald says.

“There’s stuff breaking all around Australia and all around the world at that time.”

While many viewers lament the exit of TEN’s long-running Sandra Sully-hosted late night news, others have noted the smarts of the young Macdonald, tipping him as Australia’s answer to CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

He laughs politely at those notions.

“I’ll leave it to other people to do the comparisons. I’m interested in doing my own thing and creating a programme that’s really distinctive and different from whatever else is on Australian TV. There is room to do some pretty cool stuff,” he says.

Despite TEN failing to attract interest in its 2011 experiments in the early evening, it has a long success with late night news. With the fresh-faced Macdonald at the helm, the key will be to appeal to younger viewers over those watching Lateline and World News Australia in the same timeslot.

“You can still have quality, be interesting, break stories, and be entertaining, engaging and accessible all at the same time. That’s what I want to try and focus on,” he says.

“It’s not just going to be politicians every night. There’ll be a huge range of interesting people.”

The show also plans to feature live musical performances and social media engagement.

“There is a reason why my generation has switched off News & Public Affairs TV –because we haven’t really responded to the changing way they receive and consume news,” he suggests.

“People of my generation are finding things out first online through Facebook, Twitter and all sorts of social media platforms. We don’t want to be tokenistic about it, we want to engage and use it to full effect.

“We know that people are not necessarily just lying at home on the couch, they’re probably on the couch with a laptop, iPad or phone and possibly the telly on in the background. So we want to engage with the whole spectrum of media that they’re playing with at that time.”

Since arriving at TEN in early 2011 Macdonald has filed significant stories on Cairo, Afghanistan, Indonesia and local pieces on the Australian Army and bikie gangs. He will continue to deliver investigative pieces for TEN.

“TEN have been very firm about that. They still want me to be able to break stories and cover the big stories around Australia and around the world as they happen. So that’s hugely exciting,” he says.

When there are big news stories breaking, TEN Newsnight may also be presented from on location.

“Absolutely. Wherever and whenever possible. It’s definitely a programme that’s going to be aggressive and chasing the news stories,” he insists.

“When I was anchoring at Al Jazeera that was the thing I loved more than anything, when they decided to take the network on the road and do a week from a war zone. It’s not something that’s happened quit so much here but the guys at TEN said when there are big stories we want it on location.”

But despite the looser environment of late night news, fans of ‘alternative’ bulletins once hosted by Graham Kennedy or Clive Robertson are out of luck. Macdonald baulks at the idea of adding comment to his presentation.

“From anything I’ve ever done I don’t think you’ve ever seen me making a comment or expressing my opinion. That’s not my style and it never has been. It’s not something I’m interested in,” he says.

“I’m more about quality, balanced journalism. Strong interviews, definitely. But taking a position on things, absolutely not.”

Whether he lives up to suggestions of being the next Anderson Cooper remains to be seen. Right now his focus is on putting together a good product, as entertaining as it is informative.

“It will be cool, fun, creative and live. All the things that I really love and am passionate about.”

TEN Newsnight begins 10:30pm Monday June 4th.

34 Comments »

  1. aussie June 3, 2012 at 12:22 am -

    As predicted, TEN are falsely advertising the start time. Their Facebook page says 10.30pm, on-air promo says 10.30pm.
    Guess what the EPG says…10.44pm!!

  2. mistaken May 22, 2012 at 10:14 pm -

    @oztvheritage Breakfast is part of the News Revolution. Late News with Sports Tonight was a casuality of the “revoltion” so as to make way for Breakfast.

    Only one beneficiary out of Ten’s News Revolution – Deb Knight.

  3. idiotbox May 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm -

    I think it’s great that Ten is returning it’s late news as I’m hardly ever home from work to watch news from 5 till 730pm. I will miss Sandra Sully presenting it though.
    I also think it’s vitally important for Ten that it starts on air on time each night and hopefully with Letterman coming on straight after it. That only leaves one small problem with my own personal TV viewing habits, which is what time will they screen Craig Ferguson? I’ve grown to really like that show and I hope Ten don’t put it in direct competition with their new news show.

  4. Timbo May 22, 2012 at 5:33 pm -

    He’s good talent, I think this will be good.

  5. oztvheritage May 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm -

    @mistaken

    You reckon News revolution was the biggest flop?

    I think Breakfast is the biggest flop. 100K should have been the pass mark from day one. To be getting under 25k when the opposition are getting 350K and over….that is a shellacking!!! At least with the “News Revolution” Ten had a go. And Australian Tv needs networks to to keep investing in change. The problem was Negus was a very bad presenter (and didn’t ask “why” once like he promised.

    As for people watching Breakfast at 5.30am…(it starts at 6am)….would love to know how many people are actually watching at that time. Now thats a scary thought. Either get rid of Henry or the show altogether. It just can’t survive…surely!

  6. Josh777 May 22, 2012 at 11:47 am -

    @ Kenny – read down the page. My first comment was well structured with proper grammer and spelling, but Secret Squirrel stated that it was too long so I wrote a second comment which was a summary of what my first comment said, but I knew if I done it in dot points it could have taken up a fair bit of space so I just wrote it using commas. Please do make sure you have all the facts before making comments such as that as it is very insulting and I’m sure it pushes the boundaries of TV Tonights policy on appropriate comments.

  7. Jennome May 22, 2012 at 9:44 am -

    Sandra Sully is strickly a newsreader … Hamish is way more than that.

  8. mistaken May 22, 2012 at 6:28 am -

    @oztvheritage if Ten thought the Late News viewers were going to switch to morning viewers than they were sadly mistaken. Majority of the Late News viewers were the night owls or shift workers of the Nation. If they’re still up at 11:30pm they were hardly going to be up at 5:30am to watch Breakfast.

    Late News even on a bad ratings night, attributed to a late starting time, would manage at least 250000. That’s 10 times more viewers as Breakfast on its very best day!

    Ten’s News Revolution would have to go down in history as one of the biggest flops ever.

    Its not the first time Ten has canceled then brought back Late News. But for me its missing its number 1 ingredient – Ms Sully.

  9. David Knox May 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm -

    Kenny: TB started at 9:48 this week.

  10. oztvheritage May 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm -

    Hamish is one of the a very limited number of up and coming talents in Australian TV. Most networks are not investing in new talent, especially in news and current affairs. Good on Ten for seeing him as a greta opportunity. Late news used to expose Ten to viewers who would not normally watch Ten and wanted to be informed late at night. When they axed it, this exposure was lost. Ten were hoping these lost viewers would turn to Breakfast. This has not happened with Breakfast’s dismal ratings. Hopefully this will work and Ten can build their brand and viewers around this investment. Does this investment mean they have given up on Breakfast???

  11. Kenny May 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm -

    @Josh777- Methinks some people should spend a bit less time watching TV and bone up on writing, grammar and spelling.
    As for late start times – don’t worry about that. Tricky Business starts at 9:30 according to the EPG. Passed 10pm and still waiting. Forget it. Switch to Q@A then Lateline. Nothing after 7pm starts on time thesedays.

  12. Sharpy May 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm -

    Sounds like an intriguing program. Is the Friday slot left open for a Daily Show style “Global Edition” or has Ten decided that Friday night is just a wasteland and not to throw resources at it…

  13. Ed May 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm -

    Good move, I’m looking forward to it!

  14. Al May 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm -

    That’s a shame. By the time it actually starts at approximately 10.53 pm I’ll be heading for bed.

  15. Josh777 May 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm -

    @ Secret Squirrel – good idea, key demo version of late night news, what about the programming that use that timeslot, TEN programming department need new blood who know how to use multichannels, previous success seen with Blue Bloods and Burn Notice, when will Hawaii Five-0 and House re-appear, Sports Tonight is better then Sports Center (Local Addition), hope this has success and remains different

  16. David Knox May 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm -

    Sydney.

  17. steve sydney May 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm -

    Will it be be done in Sydney or Melb? If Sydney that means no more Project for Hamish unless it’s the Friday edition.

    Also, I don’t really see the need to compare him to Anderson Cooper since Anderson doesn’t really receive good ratings and is on a network (CNN) that is currently struggling in the US

  18. gabbo May 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm -

    Great news – especially this quote: “I don’t think you’ve ever seen me making a comment or expressing my opinion. That’s not my style and it never has been. It’s not something I’m interested in,” he says.

    “I’m more about quality, balanced journalism. Strong interviews, definitely. But taking a position on things, absolutely not.”

    Take note Paul Henry & Andrew Bolt. This new show deserves every success if it is balanced and fair – I have every reason to believe it will be – quite a change from the other “journalists” recently employed by TEN!

  19. adtn May 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm -

    Why Monday to Thursday only? What will TEN air late on Friday night? ‘Sports Tonight’ only? And it better not be on 10:35pm, 10:40pm to potentially 11:00pm on some nights!

  20. michaelOz May 21, 2012 at 12:03 pm -

    As they say in Little Britain: “oh, he’s Gorgeous!”

    I’ll be watching.

  21. Secret Squirrel May 21, 2012 at 11:46 am -

    Agree with everyone here – both about Hamish’s obvious qualities and about Ten needing to keep the start-time consistent.

    @Josh777 – tl;dr. Please use paragraphs if you would like people to read your comments.

  22. mistaken May 21, 2012 at 11:41 am -

    Totally agree @deedeedragons.

    Newsnight must have a regular 10:30pm start time or it will fail.

  23. deedeedragons May 21, 2012 at 11:27 am -

    Would rather Sandra back at late news but at least i can still see her unlike others around the country.
    I’ll give it a go.

  24. Dodge May 21, 2012 at 11:12 am -

    This may well get me back to watching news again

  25. Josh777 May 21, 2012 at 10:38 am -

    Definitely a clever idea to compete with other late night news programming offered in Australia, but what about the shows that TEN have left to die in the 10:30pm timeslots? TEN really need to start taking advantage of their multichannels and move the shows that no longer rate well into primetime slots where they will get a better chance of rating. Numb3rs and Medium would do great on ONE, as have Blue Bloods, Burn Notice and soon White Collar which were all on TEN till they were moved into amazing timeslots (Blue Bloods 9:30pm Mondays, Burn Notice 8:30pm Wednesdays followed by repeats, and White Collar 9:30pm Sundays). I think the entire programming department at TEN needs an overhaul with some new blood who know where programs would do best, instead of dropping series when they are mere episodes from being caught up to the U.S. – such as the case of House and Hawaii Five-0.
    But back on the news side of the story, I believe it is great that Sports Tonight is returning as it offers some competition to the under-performing Sports Center (Local Addition) on ESPN Aust./N.Z., which isn’t live and doesn’t even appear to try to be original and of the same level as it’s U.S. counterpart. TEN might be on a gold mine here, or they may have it blow up in their face if they let it blend too much into it’s former self and be the same as it’s competition. Only time will tell…

  26. TonyK May 21, 2012 at 10:11 am -

    Macdonald vs Goncalves hey?

  27. tomothyd May 21, 2012 at 9:50 am -

    Awesome news, I only watch The Project when Hamish is on. Great to see he now has his own show. Lets hope it starts on time, otherwise I won’t be watching very often.

  28. jimbo k May 21, 2012 at 9:45 am -

    i am glad that Ten’s Late News is returning. Sure, Sandra Sully made it the Late News, but MacDonald is a great addition to it.

    As with Sports Tonight, i just wish it returned to its former self in the late slot (ie – as a seperate show!). I don’t like both shows being squeezed into each other. I want it just like how it used to be.

    @Aussie – i agree. Hope it is consistent and remains 10.30 each night (not like the current schedule of scattered late night times).

  29. Qubec May 21, 2012 at 9:34 am -

    This seems like a really great idea. Hamish is one of the few actual TV journalists (as opposed to just some news reader) in Australia nowadays and I think he’ll do a fantastic job.
    My only issue is that with reality taking a large chunk out of Ten’s schedule every night, 10.30 has been used as a spot for older shows that use to rate and still have fans. We’ve all seen how Ten is clueless when it comes to using multichannels (ie, House), so many shows may be sacrificed for this one…

  30. aussie May 21, 2012 at 8:32 am -

    TEN need to make sure they are consistent by having this air at exactly 10.30pm, not scattered timeslots every night

  31. Woody May 21, 2012 at 8:15 am -

    This is a good idea

  32. mistaken May 21, 2012 at 6:58 am -

    As a devotee of Tens Late News with Sandra Sully for 16 or so years I’m beyond annoyed that Ten axed the news in September only to bring it back 8 months later minus Sandra. All she needed to rate well night after night was a regular 10:30pm timeslot, something that appears will be provided for Newsnight (terrible name imo).

    This must be a real slap in the face for Sandra, as it is for her national fans, when she’s made it abundantly clear she prefers the late night shift.

  33. FanOfTen May 21, 2012 at 5:31 am -

    i believe this is a very good move by TEN and hamish is the perfect host
    Just please dont focus on news too much .. it should be like a Larry King Live show and be more interview based
    but great for late night viewing

  34. Matt90 May 21, 2012 at 5:13 am -

    Looks great. Hamish MacDonald is incredibly talented but although this show will get me away from Lateline, I’ll probably still tune in for The Business at 11 as I usually do on the rare occasion I’m watching TV at that time.

    Looking forward to more Sports Tonight as well. Why 10 got rid of that I’ll never know!

Leave A Response »

You must be logged in to post a comment.