University of Melbourne Magazine

Roving reporter: Matt Tinney

  • For journalist and arts alumnus Matt Tinney (BA 2005), hopping into a plane with an 80-year-old aerobatics pilot in the cockpit is just another day at the office.

    “Fortunately, I didn’t vomit, but I did feel a bit queasy afterwards,” he says of the flight, filmed for the Seven Network’s breakfast show Sunrise, where he serves as Perth correspondent. “That’s the great thing about this job — you meet a lot of different people. Sometimes they’re celebrities, but often they’re average people who do extraordinary things.”

    Growing up in Essendon with dreams of becoming a pilot himself, Tinney decided to pursue a journalism career after just missing out on a job in the air force.

    “I had either journalist or politician in the back of my mind,” and he asked an old primary school teacher what to do.

    Her advice was simple.

    “She said, ‘Do you consider yourself to be honest, Matt?’. I said, ‘Oh, you know me, of course I do.’ And she said: ‘Do yourself a favour, and don’t become a politician. It’ll get you into trouble!’ ”

    At University, Tinney majored in Politics and Italian, which taught him how to research and analyse material, “both key skills for a journalist.” He also got as much professional experience as he could, volunteering for community radio and TV. Two weeks after graduating, he landed a job at WIN News in Wollongong.

    Upending his life to kick-start his burgeoning career, it wasn’t long before it would be upended again.

    “I happened to meet Bruce Gordon, the owner of WIN, and one thing led to another and suddenly I was being sent on a plane to Perth.”

    Unbeknownst to Tinney, he was being given a trial run as Channel Nine’s weekend newsreader in Perth.

    “It was incredible,” he says, looking back on the careershaping moment. “It was like I’d just taken flight. It had come out of absolutely nowhere. I’m sure the TV viewers of Perth were thinking, ‘Who is this 23-year-old?’ ”

    From there, he made the jump to his current gig at Sunrise, and he has since settled into life on the west coast, meeting his now wife and having children.

    “Becoming a parent brings something new to your journalism. You see stories through a different set of eyes.” Tinney cites his work hosting Perth’s long-running Telethon as one of the most important things he does.

    It might look like a glamorous job, but it does have its challenges.

    “Very soon after starting at Sunrise I covered the execution of the ‘Bali Nine’, and you’re just in the thick of it,” he says. “It’s not until afterwards that you reflect on what you’ve done, and the emotion does hit you.”

    Still, the pros of the job vastly outnumber the cons.

    “At times, it can feel like you’re not doing anything remarkable, because you see all these people doing amazing things. But I’m at the point where I think, well, it’s my job to get these amazing stories out into the open.”


    By Anders Furze