The Force is strong in this one….

Anyone who’s sat through Star Wars would know that Darth Vader was picking up on ‘something’ about a young pilot, who turns out to be his son.  The “Force” runs strong in his family.

Whilst we’re not talking about an ability to wield a light sabre or perform Jedi mind tricks (or maybe we are), we do see sons and daughters following in the footsteps of their parents.

Children of doctors often study medicine; the offspring of lawyers will follow them into court.  They see a parent doing something they love and growing up in that environment, the inclination to follow suit can burn strong.

Journalism is no different. Whether it’s an attraction to the written word, the story telling or the adrenaline rush, we’re seeing second or third generation news hounds make their way in the biz.

Nova 100’s breakfast reader Matt Smithson is one of those who have followed a parent into journalism.  His father is Mike Smithson; political reporter and presenter for Seven News in Adelaide.  A career in the media almost a ‘given’.

“I used to go into Channel 7 with Dad when there was nothing to do around the house or if Mum was at work.  It was a little more child friendly.  Actually, I don’t know how child friendly newsrooms are, but anyway…”

“So, from a early age I’d go out in the car with Dad and I’d be getting a great over-view of what it’s like to be a journo: chasing stories and the pressure of it all”.

“Dad always joked ‘don’t ever get into journalism, there’s no money in it’.  But I know he’s proud of me, as is any parent if their child follows their career path”.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to go down the radio path.  Like most of us in the industry, Matt fell into it and fell in love with the medium, getting his break at Adelaide community station Fresh FM while still at Uni.

“I knew I wanted to do journalism, but didn’t know which medium. But they were very receptive and eager for volunteers and that’s where radio took hold”.

“I think Dad was happy that I got my start in radio because it gives you a really good grounding.  And TV can be quite cutthroat, even more so than radio”.

Getting a foot in the door can be tough and the weight of expectation that comes with a ‘famous’ surname can make things eve tougher. There will inevitably be those who will try to compare the child to the parent.

“Look, there are those people who want to hang shit on you because of the surname.  Noses are out of joint and they’d ask ‘how good or bad is he compared to his dad’. Or they’d say ‘you’re just riding in on your dad’s coat-tails’”.

“There were definitely a few haters, but on the whole most people have been great”.

While Matt has forged his own career in radio, he’s now starting to dabble in his father’s world of TV, joining Channel Nine Melbourne as a producer.

He’s yet to make the transition to ‘front of camera’ but it won’t be long before someone will be asking Mike whether he’s related to that other Smithson on Nine.

The Force is indeed strong in this one.

And for the record, my daughter has expressed an interest in journalism as a career.  That would be three generations of journalists in the Gunn family. I’m doing my best to dissuade her, but if the Smithsons are anything to go by, the battle may already have been lost.

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