AUSRALIANS know Simon Bouda – right? We know his name, we know his face, we know his voice and we certainly know the tragedies he covers as one of the National Nine Network’s most experienced hard-news journalists.
But what, really, do we know of Bouda as a person – as a son, husband, father, colleague, friend?
In Bouda’s public life he is the man behind the story: the on-screen professional speaking impassively from the scene of a stabbing, an abduction, an explosion, a disaster.
His early days in the print media led Bouda to choose crime as his specialisation, exposing him to some of Australia’s most detestable offenders and enabling him to forge relationships with police contacts that have grown stronger with every passing decade.
In more than 30 years of journalism Bouda has covered kidnappings, mine collapses, bushfires, earthquakes, assassinations, East Timor’s independence referendum, the Boxing Day tsunami and the Thredbo landslide (after which he was invited to become survivor Stuart Diver’s biographer). He has been based in London and Sydney and filed reports from wherever news has broken, almost always with virtually no time to prepare: Jordan, Israel, Greece, Fiji, New Zealand, Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq.
Along the way he has been beaten with an umbrella by Pixie Skase in Mallorca, Spain, and cursed by paedophile Phillip Harold Bell for tracking the millionaire to his hideaway in South Africa.
In Deadline he delves behind these events and dozens more, revealing the emotional and ethical dilemmas faced by a working journalist: the decisions made, the consequences considered, the possibilities weighed up and the personal plans abandoned.
From his expedition to trace his late father’s final movements in Papua New Guinea to his fundraising for the Homicide Victims’ Support Group, Bouda’s off-camera adventures are recorded alongside his official assignments with absolute sincerity, bravery, humility and candour.