It’s good to see Douglas Wood alive and well – but how long will his new career as a survivor last? Jane Fraser had an interesting turn of phrase to describe him in the Australian’s Strewth column today: “Australia’s hottest survival hero since Stuart Diver.”
According to The Age, Wood “scarcely had time for a hug and a hello with his brothers in Melbourne yesterday before he had signed up for what could be the biggest deal in the history of Australian chequebook journalism. The Ten Network is believed to have paid at least $250,000 – and possibly as much as $400,000 – for the rights to an exclusive interview with the 63-year-old engineer about his 47-day ordeal as a hostage in Iraq. The program will be aired this Sunday evening.”
Nice money – but is there a career in it? There seem to be two major difficulties for people such as Wood. No matter what their circumstances are, the more survivors are perceived to be capitalising on the story, the less interested the public becomes. Survivors have little to say, too. They probably know least about how they were saved, since they had nothing to do with organising their own rescue.
The obvious Iraq story is that of Private Jessica Lynch. She ended up with a book deal that denied the more gung-ho stories her rescue generated. Yachtsman Tony Bullimore is still sailing – but he’s more a question for a laugh at pub quiz nights.
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You can find Thredbo survivor Stuart Diver on Harry M Miller’s books. He seems to have had a genuine career change – but that may be because his story of 65 hours trapped in rubble was marketed as a self help, strength conquers all type of tale.
Diver was the victim of a genuine accident of nature. He did nothing to put himself in danger. He survived, but lost his wife. He has naturally won more sympathy. Will Douglas Wood’s story play so well?
Check out the Crikey chequebook journalism list to see who else has been paid for their story.