Media

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 ...

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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.

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Bill Clinton discouraged politicians from picking fights with people who bought their ink by the barrel. Mindful of that advice, Lindsay Tanner has waited until the end of a career dedicated to the ‘serious craft of politics’ to remonstrate with the fourth estate about its fundamental unseriousness in reporting the democratic process ...

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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.

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When members of the rock band Men at Work recorded their legendary hit ‘Down Under’ in the early 1980s, they wanted to inject a stronger sense of Australianness into the song, so they included a flute riff of a few bars echoing the classic Australian children’s chorus ‘Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree’, just as one might, in a different geographical con ...

On 30 July 2010, WikiLeaks uploaded a file named ‘insurance.aes256’ to the Internet. The file was 1.4 gigabytes in size – large enough to hold a mountain of leaked documents – and encrypted with a 256-character key strong enough to have the US National Security Agency’s approval for use to secure classified documents. It was also copied to dozens of USB sticks and mailed out to a cadre of WikiLeaks supporters around the world. In a letter enclosed with the USB sticks, WikiLeaks said that ‘insurance.aes256’ contained an encrypted archive:

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If developments in relation to music and the Internet are any guide, writers and publishers will increasingly be addressing the opportunities for self-management on the Internet. For writers, there is a well-established path for sharing copyright works without charge. This is known as the Creative Commons, which publishes generic licences for use by authors in the exchange of copyright materials. These licences are intended to promote an orderly exchange of copyright works, without charge, but within the framework of copyright licensing. By using the Creative Commons licences, writers can facilitate the copyright usage of their work gratis, but in a way which protects legal rights. Blogs and other webpages are enabling self-publication for royalty-free purposes. There has never been a better opportunity for the exchange of ideas online.

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Australians quite like the idea of freedom of speech, except in almost any situation you can think of. We hold that speaking freely is acceptable and commendable except when it is rude, upsetting, unpatriotic, in poor taste, or blocks the traffic.

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Some locations are perfect for reading particular books; those that foster an extra connection to history as lived by the protagonists. Now that the labyrinthine corridors of Old Parliament House have been opened to all, climb the rickety staircase to the press gallery, Ross Fitzgerald and Stephen Holt’s book in hand, to reach the cramped den of power of their vulpine subject. Among the evocatively recreated rooms and the very pipework of the building that, we learn, literally leakedthe scoops from the House of Representatives below, the cigarette-addled voice of ‘The Red Fox’ still crackles out alongside the recorded clang of typed keys. Alan Reid, journalist, author, and political communications spin doctor before the term was even invented, died the year prior to Parliament’s move up the hill. But the old building’s new title as ‘The Museum of Democracy’ fittingly stamps the need to focus attention back on one wily fox, who ran free but unelected at the heart of the democratic process, and who has until now escaped scholarly assessment.

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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 ...

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