Kerry O'Brien (journalist)

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Kerry O'Brien
Kerry O'Brien.jpg
Born (1945-08-27) 27 August 1945 (age 70)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Residence Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality Australian
Education Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland
Occupation Television journalist/presenter
Employer Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Kerry Michael O'Brien (born 27 August 1945) is an Australian journalist based in Sydney. He is the former editor and host of The 7.30 Report and Four Corners on the ABC. O'Brien is one of Australia's most respected journalists, having been awarded six Walkley Awards during his career.


Kerry O'Brien was born into a working class Roman Catholic family in Brisbane, Queensland, where he attended St Laurence's College.[1] He started as a news cadet in 1966. He has worked in newspapers, wire service and television news and current affairs, as a general reporter, feature writer, political and foreign correspondent, interviewer and compere, and served as press secretary to then Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.[2]

O'Brien said: "I guess it was my curiosity that drove my attraction to political journalism—and drove my desire to work for Gough Whitlam when that opportunity came up—because I wanted to see what it was like behind the scenes. I wanted to see what it was like to be a part of the process, rather than just reporting on it. When I came back to journalism, I realised that the experience I've had in the back rooms of politics was like gold for me—in terms of being able to understand and second guess what was really going on behind that sort of opaque screen that the political processes, the processes of government throws up."[3]

The 7.30 Report[edit]

After six years as compere and interviewer of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Lateline program, O'Brien moved in 1995 to The 7.30 Report, of which he was editor and compère. He also anchors and moderates the ABC's election telecasts. O'Brien has won many awards, including the top award in Australian journalism, the Gold Walkley in 2000. He has also made several appearances on The Chaser's War on Everything.[4]

Asked about the hardest interview he has ever had to do, O'Brien said: "The interview I did with Jonathan Shier when he was my managing director at the ABC, and whom history now makes abundantly clear, made a complete hash of the job. It was about two-thirds of the way through his tenure that I persuaded him to come on for an interview. I suppose my opening question to him was a provocative question. I was staring into the eyes of my own boss. At the same time, the audience had to see that although I was asking tough and provocative questions, that I wasn't pursuing an agenda. My opening question invited him to give us evidence he wasn’t a failure. Those weren’t the precise words that I used, but it was a tough question. I knew that it wouldn’t endear me to him. But I don't remember feeling any qualm about it. He subsequently revealed, which I didn’t know at the time, that he had been seeking to have me removed from the program."[5]

With respect to effective interviewing, O'Brien revealed: "It’s very much about being prepared. Think through the issues related to what you’re talking about—think them through. Look for the logic. Try to understand as best you can, then you try and cut to the heart of the issue in the same way, I suppose, a lawyer might."[6]

O'Brien announced in September 2010 that he would be resigning as the editor and presenter of The 7.30 Report at the end of the year, and would move on to new roles within ABC in 2011.[7][8] He concluded his time at The 7.30 Report on 9 December.[9]

Four Corners[edit]

On 14 October 2010, the ABC announced that O'Brien would host Four Corners, beginning in 2011.[10][11]

On 6 November 2015, it was announced that O'Brien would be stepping down as host of Four Corners. [12] He will be replaced by Sarah Ferguson when the program resumes production in 2016.


During his career as a journalist, O'Brien has won six Walkley Awards for his journalistic work.[13] His first two awards came in 1982, when he won the award for the best television current affairs report and the ceremony's top prize, the Gold Walkley. He again received prizes in 1991 and 2000. In 2010—his final year on The 7.30 Report—he received two awards: one for broadcast interviewing, and the other for journalism leadership.[9]

He has been awarded two honorary doctorates: Doctor of the University from the Queensland University of Technology in April 2009, and Doctor of Letters honoris causa from the University of Queensland in December 2011.[14]

Personal life[edit]

O'Brien has been married twice and has six children. His first marriage produced three children, including twins, by the time he was 24. The marriage was dissolved after nine years. His second marriage was to Sue Javes, whom he married in 1981, which produced another three children.[15]


  1. ^ "ABC Big Ideas". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 10 February 2011. 
  2. ^ "4 Corners - Kerry O'Brien Profile". Retrieved 5 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Interview: Kerry O’Brien — Leading Australian journalist
  4. ^ Kerry O'Brien profile,; accessed 14 December 2007.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Interview: Kerry O’Brien — Leading Australian journalist. Accessed 10 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Kerry O'Brien to leave 7.30 Report". The Spy Report (Media Spy). 24 September 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2010. 
  8. ^ "Kerry O'Brien to quit 7.30 Report". The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 September 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Kerry O'Brien signs off from The 7.30 Report". The Spy Report (Media Spy). 9 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "Kerry O'Brien moves to Four Corners". The Spy Report (Media Spy). 14 October 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  11. ^ "O'Brien to host Four Corners". ABC News. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "2010 Walkley Award Winners". The Walkley Foundation. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  14. ^ UQ News: Citation - Mr Kerry O'Brien,; accessed 18 September 2014.
  15. ^ Tony Wright, Very Kerry, The Age, 11 December 2010, Insight, p. 3
Media offices
Preceded by

1990 – 1995
Succeeded by
Maxine McKew
Preceded by
Separate state editions
The 7.30 Report
National Presenter

4 December 1995 – 9 December 2010
Succeeded by
Leigh Sales and Chris Uhlmann as 7.30
Preceded by
Liz Jackson (Until 1999)
Unpresented (1999-2010)
Four Corners

February 2011 – November 2015
Succeeded by
Sarah Ferguson