Peter Hitchener looks back on 50 years as he reads the news on Nine

“He’s a very warm, caring person,” she says. “Very personable and easy and comfortable.”

Hitchener, or “Hitch” as he’s often called, is aware of his good manners and reputation. In fact, he’s aware that it can come across as “sick.” But, he says, everything springs from a desire to connect: “I think you have to share with the audience in a way. just be there be human.”


However, during a broadcast this can be a complicated matter. Although he believes journalists shouldn’t be afraid to show emotion – he recalls one producer “bursting into tears” when she gave him the copy to cover the news brief about Princess Diana’s death in 1997 – he is adamant that he never reveals what he thinks about. contentious issues” or monopolizing attention during a tragedy.

Now, more than a decade later, he is reluctant to even speak about the on-the-ground coverage he did during the Black Saturday bushfires for fear that mention of the event could upset survivors and victims’ families.

Hitchener’s former colleague Brian Naylor, whom he replaced as chief news anchor in 1998 after Naylor’s retirement, also died in the disaster.

“When things are just awful, you have to be objective and obviously appropriate,” he says. “Don’t share what you think because it’s not about you. It’s about the people who are suffering.”

Peter Hitchener, early in his career at Nine.

Peter Hitchener, early in his career at Nine. Credit:Nine/delivered

Being a witness to tragedy is part of every news anchor’s job description. But that’s why Hitch always felt compelled to “hang on to the happy stories, too.”

“If there’s an animal rescue or something encouraging… they’re great,” he says, exhaling sharply. “And that’s why sport is so important: it gives people a chance to breathe.” (Hitchener has a lot to say about having supported St Kilda Football Club since 1974 – a club that hasn’t existed since 1966 won the flag.)

“If I could trade places with someone who was looking for a job and start again, I would.”

Peter Hitchener

Hitch has garnered a lot of attention over the years for his attempts to bring that bright energy to the newsroom, most notably in 2016 when he rapped a message about Vanilla Ice to the tune of ice cream baby. But he also knows when to hold back. In 2009, the station went viral for staying cool when it appeared to be terrorized by a giant seagull in the middle of reporting a murder.

Unlike some his age, Hitchener seems genuinely tickled by the concept of going viral — and is unfazed by the challenges new technologies have brought to legacy media.

“I think things have always evolved,” he says. “You know, at one point people said movies would destroy theatre. But no, theater is still possible! … We will always have free-to-air television. It’s accessible. People know who we are. And it’s curated. It’s not something that could have been cooked in someone’s bedroom on the other side of the world.”

It’s also encouraging that he still seems to have a legion of young fans (which has no doubt helped in part through the way he’s engaged with social media). “I would never claim to be a celebrity,” he says shyly. “But people often seem to want selfies.”


In many ways he is jealous of the younger generation that has so much excitement ahead of them – especially those who are now making their way into journalism, no matter how difficult it may be: “If I could trade places with someone, one Get a job and start all over again I would.

With 9News host Alicia Loxley replacing him when he calls it a day, Hitch knows he’s “getting near the end of things.” But maybe she’ll have to wait a while.

“I’ll keep going until I drop,” he says with a signature smile. Peter Hitchener looks back on 50 years as he reads the news on Nine

Jaclyn Diaz

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