Cunningham began his career as an office-boy on the Bendigo Advertiser, and ended it as a distinguished editor of the Argus, rewarded with a knighthood for in 1936. Along the way he worked as a proof-reader, political journalist, court reporter and police roundsman.
He showed characteristic initiative in 1880 when Ned Kelly – just captured, badly wounded – was being transported to Melbourne.
Cunningham deduced correctly that police would remove the outlaw from the train at North Melbourne before it reached Spencer Street, to avoid waiting pressmen.
Cunningham was the only reporter on the spot. Cunningham's reports of the Kelly trial were described as masterpieces of meticulous, yet dramatic journalism.
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