Macdonald was born in the Snowy Mountains town of Jindabyne, where his parents ran a pharmacy, beginning his media career covering federal politics in Canberra for regional television network WIN. In 2003, he moved to the UK to work for Channel 4 News, followed by a stint at Al Jazeera English in Kuala Lumpur.
Macdonald thought he’d been employed as a producer – which came as a surprise to his bureau chief, who’d hired him as a presenter.
“I had a meltdown,” he told The Age in 2011. “I hadn’t done anything significant reporting-wise and that’s why I was there, to build from a field producer to a correspondent and get to know that part of the world. I didn’t want to be in a studio.”
Macdonald’s Al Jazeera report on pro-democracy protests in Malaysia saw him win the young journalist of the year award from London’s Royal Television Society. He has also received a Walkley Award and a Nieman Fellowship from Harvard University.
Over the past nine years, Macdonald has worked on various Network 10 programs including 6.30 With George Negus, Ten News, The Truth Is, and the weekday and Sunday editions of The Project.
ABC’s investigative journalism chief John Lyons said: “Hamish’s energy and ability to draw from people their real concerns will further strengthen Q&A as a forum for reflecting the views of Australians and seeking ideas for the future.”
News director Gaven Morris described Macdonald as “articulate … a great listener, well-connected, interested in everything and fully across news and current events at home and abroad. [He] brings his own brand of warmth and energy that audiences love. He is a terrific communicator and an experienced and accomplished broadcaster.”
Jones will present this year’s final episode of Q&A on December 9.