Dateline, the SBS weekly international current affairs program, concluded its 2004 season last Wednesday, having celebrated its 20th anniversary in October. Dateline has proven time and again that it is the outstanding current affairs show on Australian television these days, with a focus on events (especially in the Asia-Pacific region) and perspective that commercial television can't come within cooee of. Its practice of using one-person reporter/cameraperson (which, in part, is a budgetary enforcement) compares with the elephantine production values of the increasingly insipid "60 Minutes" on the Nine Network.
Dateline has been through a range of hosts over the years, from the legendary Paul Murphy to the over-rated Jana Wendt, but Mark Davis, who has anchored the program for the last two years, has shown that, despite a bland television presence, he is a sharp and intelligent reporter and interviewer.
With the help of a fine Dateline website, I am going to use this message to present a pastiche of highlights from Dateline's 2004 season. (more coming)
January 21: A lively interview with US General Richard Myers, and an obituary of former Dateline reporter Mark Worth, who died in West Papua.
January 28: A report on plans to put the Khmer Rouge on trial in Cambodia, and an interview with former head of state and Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan.
February 11: Report from Burma, and an interview with Dr Samina Ahmed, author of an ICG report on Pakistan's nuclear industry.
February 18: Before the overthrow of the Aristide government, Mark Davis talked to US Congressmember Maxine Waters about the USA's role in destabilising Haiti.
February 25: Report on the struggle between China and Taiwan for the affections of Kiribati, and an interview on the subject with ANU academic Dr Ben Reilly.
Coming up: more of Dateline in 2004.