By Beth RiversWednesday 4 Nov 2020
On November 4, last year, Sydney’s newest news service – Hope News – was launched thanks to the generosity of Hope 103.2 supporters, who together believed in the need for an alternative to deliver credible, factual and informed news throughout our great city.
Today, Hope News celebrates its first birthday, of what is hoped to be many, and what a year it has been to report on news.
Hope News director Anita Savage said the team, which includes seasoned journalist and former 7NEWS digital reporter Sarah Wiedersehn and cadet journalist Jefferson Shaw, “hit the ground running as catastrophic bushfires took hold and have been running ever since”.
“The first year of Hope News has been an extremely busy one,” Anita said.
“Sarah, Jefferson and I have worked hard to bring listeners the most up-to-date news in a way that commercial media misses – news that’s factual, not sensational, yet with heart and hope.”
“At a time when news services are being scaled back or amalgamated, Hope News began thanks to the generosity of our incredible supporters across Sydney.” –Hope Media CEO Phillip Randall, November 4 2019
Anita said that in three decades of working as a journalist she had “never seen a news cycle like these past twelve months”.
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“We started during drought, as the Gosper’s bushfire was taking hold in the State’s north. That soon turned into reporting on multiple infernos as catastrophic bushfires were declared in NSW for the first time. Lives lost. Brave souls. Homes destroyed. I shed tears as young men perished while sacrificially fighting the bushfires, leaving little children without fathers,” she said.
“Hope News reported on Chaplains working amongst those who’d lost everything. Praying with them – providing spiritual as well as physical comfort. We reported on lives saved. We interviewed a hotel owner on the far south coast who was stranded on a sea wall, with scores of others as a massive wall of flames bore down on the town. He prayed for God to save them and, as he says, almost immediately the wind changed direction and they were spared.
“While the fires were still tearing through NSW, the White Island volcanic eruption in New Zealand struck on December 9, killing 21 people, including 14 Australians. The tragedy was heartbreaking. The bodies of two of those who died were never found.”
Anyone living in NSW over the 2019–2020 summer could have be forgiven for thinking wide-spread disasters were behind them come February but, of course, the new year brought the unprecedented global coronavirus pandemic. It literally brought the world to a standstill, with even more lives lost, businesses ruined, communities separated and daily updates from our national, state and territory leaders.
“Now known very well to us as COVID-19, I never expected to see a pandemic, which currently stands at more than 47 million cases with more than 1.2 million deaths,” Anita said.
“The fear and loneliness of many in lockdown was palpable. Hope News aimed to bring the most up-to-date information in a way that also provided some comfort. There were stories about neighbours looking out for each other. Strangers reaching out and helping the most vulnerable.”
And, this was the uniqueness behind Hope News being established at a time in history when news services were being reduced – reporting news on a foundation of “heart and hope”.
“While bringing the devastating facts of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, it has also been a privilege to find some hope in the dark and often lonely times for many. When weddings were limited to five people back in April, we interviewed a Presbyterian minister who, while acknowledging it was disappointing not to be able to hold wedding celebrations, also reminded us that marriage is about the special promises made between two people before God,” Anita said.
“Hope News has made it a priority to report the facts, without sensationalism, in a manner that informs and doesn’t alarm.”
Anita said that while the first year of Hope News has been an “exciting one, with non-stop surprises on the news front” her hope for the service and team’s future “is that we continue to be responsible in our handling of news, acknowledging its impact, and that more people will tune in, knowing that Hope is a trusted source of news, and a sound voice in an often unstable, unpredictable world.”
Hope Media CEO Phillip Randall said Hope News, which was 40-years in the making, has exceeded the organisation’s expectations over the past 12 months.
“Anita and her team of journalists have done a fantastic job of covering the news in a way that complements everything else we do here at Hope 103.2,” he said.
“The timing to launch the service was perfect because just as the news room opened we went into one of the worst bushfire seasons of NSW’s history. There were fires, flash flooding and COVID-19 all happened within the first few months of the news room launching and, most importantly, we were there to report on it all in a calm and reasonable manner.”
Phillip said Hope Media is hopeful of expanding the news room on-air and online over the coming years with continued support from our listeners and digital communities.