Award winning journalist and Herald Sun Insight editor Keith Moor has been working in newspapers since he was fifteen.
Moor started as stores boy for his local newspaper in England, Newcastle’s The Journal, and worked in this position for six months before an opening came up as a reference librarian. He took on the role, and after eighteen months had decided that journalism was the career for him.
“The chief librarian who’d gotten me the job got me really mixing with journalists and doing their research for them. I thought if I could do their research I could write stories as well. It was working there at the library that made me want to become a journalist,” Moor recalls.
He then worked as a laborer, a spot welder, a bricklayer’s assistant and in iron ore mines before coming to Australia to study journalism at university.
“It wasn’t until I came to Australia and I could earn enough money to put myself through university as a mature age student that I was able to become a journalist. I just wouldn’t have been able to do it in England,” Moor says.
He started studying journalism at the West Australian Institute of Technology at age 23 and, after finishing his degree, commenced a cadetship at Perth’s Daily News in 1979. The week he got his cadetship he resolved to return to England to see what it was like working as a journalist in his hometown, and in 1981 that opportunity arose at The Journal.
“I thought it would be nice to go back there as a fully fledged journalist. I was very pleased that when I went back the same chief librarian was there.”
He returned to Australia in 1983 and joined The Herald, where he soon became the paper’s Chief Police Reporter. It was a rewarding role but he says the deadlines were incredibly tight. He would start his shift at six am, and if anything had happened the previous night he was expected to have visited the crime scene, spoken to the police and the other key players, and to have filed by nine am.
“There was a lot of camaraderie between the people working those rounds. I’ve still got friendships from those days, even with people who I actively competed with at the time like (Underbelly authors) John Silvester and Andrew Rule,” Moor says.
Moor’s first book, Crims in Grass Castles, on organized crime boss Robert Trimbole, was published in 1987 and was reprinted and updated in 2009 in time for the second series of Underbelly. Moor has also co-authored two Mugshots books with fellow Herald Sun journalist and crime reporter Geoff Wilkinson.
In 1988 Moor became the last Chief of Staff at The Herald. When The Herald and The Sun amalgamated in 1990, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the newly formed Herald Sun.
After several years in managerial roles he decided to get back into writing and became the Herald Sun's Insight Editor in 1996, a role he has occupied ever since. It allows him to do both writing and editing and gives him the time to work on extended investigative projects.
“It’s a joint editing and writing role, probably about 50/50, but as the years have gone on I’ve found that I spend more of my time actually writing and don’t do as much editing,” Moor says.
“It gives me a chance to do things properly, not quickly. I’m not saying I can’t do things quickly, but usually with the sort of stuff that I work on I’m allowed a lot of freedom to spend almost as much time as I want to in order to get it to be the best possible project.”
The extra time certainly pays off; since becoming Insight Editor Moor has won a slew of awards. He was highly commended for his work at the 1997 and 1998 Quill Awards, and he eventually won a Quill Award for Best Feature in 2001. His winning stories centered on a man who worked for three years as an undercover informant and whose efforts led to 80 people, including Australia’s biggest amphetamines dealer, ending up behind bars. The man was subsequently put into a witness protection program but when criminals broke into the drug squad offices and discovered his new identity, he was forced to go into hiding and did not receive the support from police that he deserved.
“I’d like to think that it gave the witness protection people a bit of a fright,” Moor says. “There have been a number of reforms and while it’s not perfect – as Carl Williams found out – it’s a lot better than it was in those days.”
In 2007, Moor won a second Quill for Best Deadline Report for his piece on the arrest of Tony Mokbel. He also won a Walkley Award in 1986 and the News Limited Newsbreaker of the Year award in 2004.
Moor signed up as a Melbourne Press Club member on the same day that he became a member of the committee. Reflecting on his time on the committee, he says he is most proud of his involvement in the Quill Awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I took particular interest in being involved with the Quills because I think it’s important for Melbourne to have its own awards,” Moor says.
“I had a fair bit to do with the Quills committee and also debating who the Lifetime Achievement Award should go to. You only have to look at the list of Lifetime Achievers - there’s not a bad journalist among them. There are some incredible legends who have been honoured in that way.”