Released every Wednesday, the ABR podcast features our finest reviews, poetry, fiction, interviews, and commentary.
As read by Anita Punton
ABR’s Calibre Essay Prize is one of the world’s leading prizes for an original essay. This year, we received a record field of 638 essays. Today we hear from Anita Punton, who was placed a close second for her essay ‘May Day’, a poignant memoir about piecing together her father’s life after his death. Our judges – Sheila Fitzpatrick, Billy Griffiths, and Peter Rose – described Punton’s essay as ‘a rich and moving evocation of a relationship between father and daughter’, one ‘written with humour and flair, offering a complex portrait of Punton’s father: a brilliant, narcissistic man, whose life was full of contradictions.’
In today's episode, Johanna Leggatt speaks to ABR Editor Peter Rose about growing disquiet about ‘cancel culture’, censorious voices on social media, and Twitter's threat to writers and journalists. Beginning with the recent case of Rachel Baxendale, a journalist at The Australian, who was subjected to much invective because of her persistent questions about the quarantine fiasco in Victoria, Leggatt laments the ‘routine trashing of reputations on Twitter’ and wonders why Twitter has ‘devolved into a channel for our most juvenile emotions’.... (read more)
In early August, deep in the winter of Melbourne’s stage-four discontent, journalist Rachel Baxendale became the story. The Victorian political reporter for The Australian newspaper was attacked online for questioning Premier Daniel Andrews on his government’s hotel quarantine program, as an explosion of new coronavirus infections caused unprecedented economic shutdown and the curtailment of civil liberties. As thousands of people watched the premier’s live press briefings from their living rooms, Baxendale assiduously probed Andrews about the use of security guards instead of Australian Defence Force personnel to guard returned travellers.... (read more)
The imminent closure of Australian Associated Press, or AAP, has sounded alarm bells for many citizens and journalists already worried about the lack of media diversity in Australia. AAP has long played a fundamental role in investigative journalism, which we need more than ever in an age of government intrusion, evasion, and over-reach. Johanna Leggatt, a journalist who has worked for Fairfax, News Corp, and AAP, writes about this troubling threat to journalism.... (read more)
During my first month as a trainee journalist at The Sun-Herald newspaper in Sydney, I went on strike. It was the year 2000, and the newspaper enjoyed a full roster of reporters and photographers dedicated solely to one edition each Sunday, yet even during this well-resourced period there were inklings of the headwinds to come.... (read more)
There is a scene in Kenneth Branagh’s British film, All is True, where the earl of Southampton (Ian McKellen) tells William Shakespeare (Branagh) that The Bard has lived ‘a small life’. As the Southampton points out snidely, there have been no scandals in Shakespeare’s backstory, no drunken gallivanting on ...... (read more)