Behind the newsdesk
You know him as the wisecracking presenter reporting from local television screens each night as part of the WIN News team, but there’s more to Lincoln Humphries than meets the eye. Profile gets the scoop on what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a broadcast journalist.
Lincoln Humphries picks at the wooden coffee table before him as I quiz him on his life behind and in front of the camera as a broadcast journalist with WIN News.
“It’s a new experience being the one to answer the questions,” he ponders. “It’s a lot harder to be the one answering questions actually.”
We’re seated inside a cafe that is quite clearly his local haunt, with a stream of familiar banter being exchanged with the baristas – an unsurprising display for any of his regular viewers, much the same as the antics they’ve come to expect from him when broadcasting soft news stories.
That jovial attitude continues to surface throughout this interview, but despite the jokes, it’s obvious his job and the responsibility that comes with it is something he doesn’t take on lightly.
“I don’t think people would be surprised by how much we clown around when the cameras are off. But it’s a real credit to everyone I work with at how quickly, when it gets down to a point where we’ve got to go live for a story, everyone snaps into gear and gets it done,” Lincoln explains.
“There are always different truths for everybody involved so it is quite a responsibility to tell everyone’s story as truthfully and as accurately as possible, because the way you put it forward on TV may not be the way everyone else sees it.”
Born in Moree and schooled in Toowoomba, Lincoln says that much like other teenagers, he had no idea what he wanted to do when he left school. Having shown a flair for English and drama, he ended up undertaking a dual degree in journalism and law at QUT, and quickly discovered he had a passion for television.
“Mum’s a teacher and she always said, and it’s what I try and tell a lot of kids when they’re doing subject selections or uni selections, that if you do something that you like, you’re going to do it a lot better,” he says.
Scoring his first gig straight out of university at WIN News in Toowoomba, Lincoln wound up on the Sunshine Coast after a stint as a reporter in Darwin – a role that thanks to the region’s lack of connectivity, he says taught him that the hours of preparation and organisation behind the scenes setting up for a story is usually far more stressful than anything that will ever happen on air.
But that’s not to say what does happen in front of the camera is easy by any standard.
“Whenever people are dealing with loss – it doesn’t always have to be loss of life or family or a loved one, sometimes it’s people who have lost their livelihoods or jobs or homes through fire or disaster or whatever – that’s always a bit tough,” he says, going on to express a particular sadness about some of the horrific accidents he’s had to cover from the scene.
“The worst thing about what we do, I find, is that you actually feel really useless. At the time and place, you’re not trained or qualified, and you can’t do anything to help. If anything, you feel like you’re in the way. But after the fact, you get time to think about how we do serve an important purpose of telling a story, and it’s a story that needs to be told.
“As a sidenote, it does make you a very safe driver. I never speed – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever taken a risk on the roads since I’ve started this job, seeing the amount of terrible accidents I’ve had to go to. I can’t imagine how it would be for first responders who go to them all the time. I take my hat off to all first responders and anyone who deals with that.”
If you’ve got any influence in any way, shape or form, whether it be wealth or fame, and you’re not using it for good, it kind of defeats the purpose of having it.”
This front row seat to so many tragic and often preventable headlines has inspired Lincoln to become more charitable and encourage others to do the same, and it was with this in mind that his now viral YouTube video responding to an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge nomination was created. That said, he admits the 2014 video – made to encourage family and friends to donate time and effort to deserving causes rather than putting themselves through mild discomfort to simply raise awareness – was an interesting crash course in how even the best intentions can be misinterpreted on the internet.
“It’s like if you make a popular video about how good dogs are; there is going to be a fair chunk of the world who are going to say, ‘Well you must hate cats’, which is just not true but unfortunately that’s how the internet works,” he says with a shrug.
It hasn’t stopped him from trying to turn the spotlight on worthy causes though, and he remains particularly vocal about blood donation.
“Giving blood is the easiest thing anyone can do to save a life. If you’re trying to find the easiest way to do the most good, that’s just an hour out of your day every couple of weeks and has the potential to save three lives. I don’t think there is a better input-output in terms of charitable giving that exists in the world,” he says.
This empathy derived by his experiences behind the news displays a different side to the often stoic WIN News presenter – one that is typically masked by the professionalism required by the job. But utilising his place in the public eye for the benefit of others is something he is incredibly passionate about, and a practice he says he’ll continue doing into the future.
“I think there is no point having a profile unless you use it for something good. It’s pretty self serving otherwise and that doesn’t make any sense to me,” he explains.
“If you’ve got any influence in any way, shape or form, whether it be wealth or fame, and you’re not using it for good, it kind of defeats the purpose of having it.”