Journalism

In 1963, ASIO opened a file on a disreputable fellow named Laurie Oakes, who was then living with Alex Mitchell, another Daily Mirror reporter. The two men came to the spooks’ attention when Mitchell suggested hiding unionist Pat Mackie from the police ...

... (read more)

From childhood on a dairy farm in the flats beneath Mount Egmont, in New Zealand, John McBeth rose to become a senior foreign correspondent with the Far Eastern Economic Review, one of Asia’s most influential English-language news magazines. Like other old-school journalists, he asserts at the beginning of his highly entertaining memoir that no one can be ‘taught’ journalism; you are either born one, or not. So it proved in his case. A liberal arts education might have made the younger John a more reflective autodidact, but possibly not a more successful journalist.

... (read more)

Witnesses to War, an ambitious book, is part of a larger project by the C.E.W. Bean Foundation to commemorate the work of Australian war correspondents. Fay Anderson and Richard Trembath, setting out to document the performance of Australian war correspondents, have tackled complex material. They deal with an enormous cast of characters and various interwoven themes, including the struggle against military censorship, how journalists have observed their duty to neutral coverage (or not), and the changing technology of reporting war – from sending stories by carrier pigeon or steamship in World War I to today’s live telecasts by journalists direct from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book fills an important gap. Until now, Phillip Knightley’s more general work, The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker (1975, 2004), has served as the final authority in this field. Knightley is a patron of the Foundation and an important influence.

... (read more)

Get in line, Bruce. The world is full of those who have been done over by Rupert Murdoch. In the immortal words of George Cukor to an aggrieved actor: ‘Will you stop about being fired. Everybody’s been fired.’ So what makes Bruce Guthrie, sacked as Editor-in-Chief of the Herald Sun ...

... (read more)

I grew up with The Sydney Morning Herald. In spite of enforced years in Melbourne and Canberra and sojourns overseas I still regard it as my paper. So my business being writing and Sydney my town, it’s a matter of identity that The Herald’s reviews are the primary ones for me. But my tribal instincts are faltering. The problem is The Herald’s book coverage. My quarrel isn’t with the choice of books nor the quality of the reviews. It’s the prior matter of quantity. Over the three Saturdays of the 11, 18, 25 April The Herald ran a total of ten full-scale book reviews. The Australian over the same period ran seventeen, and they were generally longer.

... (read more)

The celebrated journalist Peter Arnett’s new autobiography Live from the Battlefield partly solves one mystery for me. For the last eighteen months, whenever I discussed Arnett and his forthcoming memoirs with my husband (who was trying to research Arnett’s relationship with news network CNN after the Gulf War), I found myself constantly and inexplicably analysing Thackeray’s Vanity Fair and the characterisation of the ambitious, fragile Becky Sharp.

... (read more)

Collections of a writer’s pieces of journalism are usually not well reviewed. The critic is often a journalist whose pieces have not been collected and there is something about the thought of a colleague’s being paid twice that rankles. If the pieces under review are travelogues and and adventures of an enjoyable kind, then the critical appetite for blood will be doubly whetted. The thought of a colleague’s being paid twice for doing what was enjoyable in the first place will sour the critic’s aspect to the extent that his review will be an example of someone’s being paid once for doing something they didn’t enjoy – an experience that some journalists will have you believe is a universal one. (Of course, when their turn comes and a book of their critical pieces is published they go around the place becoming abashedly like a pregnant ex-nun.)

... (read more)
Page 2 of 2