are just as scared as anyone else about death or punishment (ABC Local, 2009). This ability to seeboth sides of the underworld clearly is a testament to his journalistic abilities.
His Feature Writing Features…
Silvester has a knack for writing profiles that makes people seem larger than life, yet human at the
same time. His profile of judge Frank Vincent does just that. Silvester’s ability to capture ambience
and atmosphere with simple wordplay is demonstrated as he paints a picture of the young judge on
one of his first cases. He uses phrases such as “the two young lawyers sitting at a restaurant tableare filled with red wine and indignation”, “they scrawl their final submission on restaurant napkins,”and “they wake the next morning with dry mouths and second thoughts”. None of the
se phrases are
particularly showy, but in our mind’s eye we can see the young Vincent at that same table, debating
the case before him. Silvester also shows an ability here to tell a simple fact-based story with vigour.
He weaves the history of Vincent’s judging career with small anecdotes from the man himself.
Another example of how he makes characters larger and smaller at the same time is when he talks
about Vincent’s reputation as a “go
-to guy for the tough, controversial or emotion-charged criminal
trials”. This sentence makes Vincent seem like a
n immovable movie judge type, but a few lines down
changes all that as he talks about horrible moments from his career, such as the case of the “B
girls”, which he describes as “nothing other than grotesque” and that “these things stay with you”.
Silvester has managed to cut to the core of this character and really expose him for what he is, whichis the mark of a fine feature writer and interviewer.
In a feature titled ‘Pack Mentality’, one can compare the beginning to the leads we see in hard newseveryday. In hard news, the inverted pyramid presides over all, and ‘Pack Mentality’ certainly would
not wash as a straightforward news story. Where this story comes into its own is precisely there: inthe lead. The first six pars of the story detail the familiar story of a lone man being set upon by apack of
youths at night. The true lead, or ‘billboard’,
comes in par seven, where Silvester says,
“Welcome to Melbourne, one of the most liveable cities in the world”. This single sentence drips
with so much personal contempt from Silvester that it certainly would not get past an editor for abasic news story. The fact that it is a feature allows that slight bias to be used, and the previous six