Vale Harry Potter

Harry.Potter

Veteran journalist Harry Potter has died. The Australian media, and NSW police, emergency services and parliamentary representatives were out in force to pay their respects at his requiem Mass at St Mary's Cathedral.

Harry John Potter. Journalist.
Born 1941; died 2014

- By Damien Murphy

Television reporting has a short shelf life. Some who pursue it become anchors, many burn out, few grow old. Harry Potter confounded the conventions of commercial television as a fixture on the Ten Network news for 32 years.

His natty looks, clipped verbal style and not-a-silver-hair-out-of-place demeanour as he reported on yet another major or minor crime story made him one of the nightly news program industry's most recognisable faces.

Potter reported on most of Sydney's big police round stories. A stickler for the cold, hard fact, he was also renowned within Sydney journalism for some close-to-the-bone moments: he once told viewers that police had ruled out robbery as a motive 'even though the couple was Jewish' and delivered the deathless line 'the headless body was found lying face down.'

He was the third generation of his family to be called Harry. Ink flowed through all their veins: His grandfather Harry arrived in Perth from England in 1888 and worked as a typesetter on the city's Daily News; his son, also Harry, was a war correspondent for the Perth newspaper.

Harry Potter III followed his father onto the Daily News in 1960 and moved east to work on The Sun News-Pictorial in Melbourne, which brought occasional stints in the Canberra press gallery towards the end of Robert Menzies' reign.

In 1964 Potter joined The Daily Telegraph when print ruled supreme and police rounds stories were the driving force of Sydney's tabloid coverage.

His 1967 revelation that 20-year-old Sandra Hilder, from Long Jetty on the central coast, had stowed away on a US cruiser and was discovered under an admiral's bed still provokes admiration among contemporaries.

Potter honed a style of covering Sydney that broke the news but kept him in faith with NSW police, a talent that served him for the next six decades.

He started climbing the executive ladder after Rupert Murdoch bought out the Packers in 1972. He married a Daily Telegraph colleague, Katrina Lee, in 1976 and within two years they were the Ten Network's power couple. She anchored the Eyewitness News, he reported crime.

Read full article: A character in journalism and the real world (The Age)

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