Bendigo reporter Mike Amor home for Christmas, reflects on his year as a journalist under Donald Trump’s presidency

Mike Amor trades Trump stories for Christmas back home US Bureau chief Mike Amor is in town for Christmas for first time in 10 years. Pictured with wife and son, Tracy and Addison Amor. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
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US Bureau chief Mike Amor is in town for Christmas for first time in 10 years. Pictured with wife and son, Tracy and Addison Amor. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Mike Amor in Cuba, 2016. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

It’s not all doom and gloom, as this picture from the Golden Globes shows. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Natural disasters are a common event in the US and its surrounds. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Getting ready for Obama’s farewell after 2016 election. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Mike Amor watched on as Donald Trump became US president. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Mike Amor in Cuba, 2016, for the laying to rest of Fidel Castro. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The sports fan reported from the Rio OIympic Games in 2016. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

TweetFacebookSeven News reporter and United States bureau chief traded in Los Angeles for Bendigo this holiday season, returning to his hometown to join in family celebrations.

While his nights will be spentfilling in for newsreader Peter Mitchell on the 6pm Melbourne bulletin, Mr Amor will also use his trip home tosoakup the n sun and indulgein his love for cricket –temporary respites from the rigours of frontlinereporting.

Mr Amor, who got his first break as a journalist at theBendigo Advertiserin the 1980s, described the past year in the United States – the first under a Donald Trump presidency – as a fascinating one for people working in the media.

“It’s almost like we are at war in many respects because Trump’s branch of the Republican party is taking the battle up with this ‘fake news’catch-cry they’ve developed,” Mr Amor said.

But he believed it was a year that brought out the best in the profession, with reporters doing their best to hold the loose canon president accountable for his words and actions.

A Trumpian America was not necessarily bad, though. Mr Amor welcomed the disappearance of political correctness under the reign of the 47thpresident; before his election, politicians were often too timid to have an opinion that fell outside the norm.

It was his shoot-from-the-hip style that endeared Trump to enough Americans that he was elected ahead of Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.

“They didn’t want another politician,” Mr Amor said,imploringpeople not to dismiss Trump voters as simply rednecks or racists.

“There was a stink about Hillary Clinton that didn’t go away and Donald Trump tapped into that.”

More predictable than American politics was the pattern of gun violence that played out time and time again all across the country.

Like in previous years, 2017 saw Amor visit the scenes of several massacres, including Las Vegas, where a shooter murdered 58 people and injured another 500 in what is now the deadliest mass killing in US history.

Before his time overseas, Mr Amor covered the Port Arthur shooting and when he usedthe n government’s response as an example of how gun violence could be addressed,Americans defended their country’s policy with a familiar line: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

His reaction to the tragedies ranged from anger to frustration.

“These are lunatics that are pulling the trigger, but this is of America’s own doing; Americansdon’t have the willpower to change anything,” he said.

“They kind of say this is the cost of being an American and being able to own [a gun].”

Sadly, there were also natural disasters this year beyond humanity’s control.

When news broke that an earthquake brought down buildings in Mexico City, Mr Amor got on a plane to the central American city.

He also saw firsthand the aftermath of a cyclone that tore through the US south.

Asked how he decompressed after watching the tragic circumstances unfold, Mr Amor said he tried to get “as far away as possible from that stuff” by having a drink, watching a movie or taking his son to sporting commitments.

And while he was grateful to leave behind a disaster zone for the safety of his home, the trauma could never be forgotten entirely.

“I’ve seen a lot of sorrows, and I’m sad to say I’m used to it,” he said.

“Any journo that’s been around as long as I have has some level of PTSD –I know I probably do.

“You can’t not as a human being and seeing this much tragedy and sorrow.”

Three weeks behind the news desk was a change of pace for the reporter, but no easy feat; he was more comfortable in the fieldwithout a teleprompter, reporting on news as it happened, he said.

He would return to the US in the new year to feed ’s growing hunger for American stories.

Asked whether was too focussed on the global superpower, Mr Amor said: “Probably but it’s for a reason.

“It is still the most powerful nation, the richest nation andI think it’s the most influential nation, not just in politics, but in entertainment,trends and fashion.”

One thing they don’t have is the AFL and it was to watchhis beloved Richmond Football Club claim its first premiership in 37 yearsthat Mr Amor lasted returned to .

He sat in the MCG beside his father, Neil, a retiredBendigo Advertiser printer whoMr Amor thanks for securing his first journalismjob.

His first days at the Addy were as a copy boy in 1986 (he joked it should have been called“coffee boy”–he spent those early days taking drink orders for more senior staff).

He recalled the cloud of cigarette smoke that hung above the desk of reporters, experienced operators from whom he began to learn his trade.

“They’d still punch the [keyboards] like they were typewriters, almost punching holes in the top of the desk,” Mr Amor remembered fondly.

“A lot of greater journalism went on.”

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