Sunday Mail editor Peter Gleeson won't forget Grafton roots
AS PETER Gleeson sat talking to Rupert Murdoch about newspapers and politics, he thought: "If Gordon Jabour could see me now."
Speaking to The Daily Examiner yesterday, having just accepted the editorship at The Sunday Mail in Queensland, Mr Gleeson had fond memories of kick-starting his career in Grafton.
His illustrious life in journalism came from humble beginnings.
While at Grafton High School he would send in the greyhounds form to The DEX.
His Year 9 teacher told him he wouldn't amount to anything.
He was "disgraceful" at maths and physics, but not too shabby at English and history, so in 1981, at 16 years old, he applied for a cadetship at the local paper.
Unlike his teacher, editor of the day Lauretta Godbee immediately recognised his talent and picked Mr Gleeson, along with David Bancroft (who later became editor of The DEX), out of 43 applicants.
"(Peter) was a lovely guy and undoubtedly, as time would prove, he was one of the best cadets who went through The Examiner," Mrs Godbee said.
"He was clever, quick and didn't mind a fight but he never went looking for it."
Mr Gleeson cut his teeth on the council round, covering Grafton, where Gordon Jabour was the mayor, and all the neighbouring authorities.
"I was covering council at 17 and I couldn't even vote," Mr Gleeson said.
It was the days of typewriters and schmoozing - from drinking scotch with the mayor to having a beer or six while judging the Jacaranda window competition before heading to the dog tracks.
Then at 22, Mr Gleeson's girlfriend dumped him after finding fame as a Jacaranda Queen.
"I thought 'this is a good time to leave' and went to the Gladstone Observer," he said.
After a stint in Tamworth, Mr Gleeson hit the big time with his first metro job at the Daily Sun in Brisbane.
As well as covering the Fitzgerald Inquiry he was assigned to cover the Cowper bus tragedy.
After the closure of the Daily Sun, Mr Gleeson took up the position of council reporter at the Gold Coast Bulletin and became chief of staff in 1998.
He took on his first editorship at the Townsville Bulletin in 2008 then took on the top job at the Gold Coast Bulletin in 2011.
"The Sunday Mail is Queensland's biggest selling paper and when I was offered the job I was really excited, it was a great opportunity," Mr Gleeson said of his latest appointment.
But the Grafton son never forgets his roots and will be back next month, as he's done pretty much every year for the past 25, for the July Racing Carnival.
His grandmother, Irene Crispin, will celebrate her 100th birthday in September and seeing as he credits her for his ability to spell, he should be back to celebrate that milestone, too.