Citizen Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘The Age’

Journalist @MargaretSimons stands up to Oz intimidation, speaks out on media reform

In Journalism, Margo Kingston, Media Reform on March 19, 2013 at 6:02 PM
margaret-simons

Dr Margaret Simons – Centre for Advancing Journalism

By Margo Kingston,

March 19, 2013

I’ve known Meg Simons for more than 25 years. We met in the Fairfax Brisbane bureau in the late 1980s – she was The Age correspondent,  me a new recruit for the Times on Sunday. We covered the Fitzgerald Inquiry, and I learnt courage and persistence – and tried to learn detachment – from her. She’s since written novels,  investigative non-fiction on the Hindmarsh Island Affair, books on the Press Gallery and the media and a biography of Malcolm Fraser. She’s now an academic journalist at Melbourne University and writes on media for Crikey.

Meg is one of Australia’s finest journalists. She has also been a victim of intense, sustained intimidation by The Australian over her support for Finkelstein’s recommendations on media regulation and her disagreement with the paper on the merits of a power struggle in the Victorian Police force. Jonathan Holmes detailed aspects of  the bullying in Trivial pursuit: When The Australian gets personal. I’m told The Drum did not want to publish this piece for fear of flak from the Oz, and that Mark Scott personally cleared it for publication.

During its campaign, the Oz published a page one story falsely accusing her of  a form of corruption in the judging of a Walkley award. It refused to published a letter to the editor from former Oz editor Malcolm Schmidtke and former Sunday Age editor Gay Alcorn (my sister) which corrected the record.

When I had dinner with Meg and her children last November, she told me the Oz had staked out her home (CORRECTION: Meg has corrected my recollection – her children feared their home would be staked out after Meg was snapped by an Oz photographer at work). It’s my guess she’d be one of the people Press Council Chief Julian Disney had in mind when he said today that victims of ‘very bad abuses’ frequently would not lodge a complaint for fear of retribution.

Meg still has the courage to stand up for good journalism and good policy on media regulation. Here is her submission to the Senate media reform inquiry. She will give evidence at 6.30 tonight.

Michelle Grattan’s best work is yet to come

In Fairfax, Margo Kingston, MSM on February 9, 2013 at 5:39 PM
Michelle Grattan

Michelle Grattan – Photo: Jay Cronan Canberra Times

By Margo Kingston
February 9, 2013

Michelle Grattan. I’ve loved her and hated her over the years. One invariably has a
complicated relationship with a great person.

Soon after the 1993 election, under pressure from then editor of The Age Alan Kohler to step back from day-to-day journalism, she left her spiritual home to become the first female editor of a metropolitan newspaper, The Canberra Times. Its owner Kerry Stokes made her promises he failed to keep, and two years later she resigned rather than accept a huge payout to leave quietly.

I was one of her journos at The Age Canberra Bureau when she took that job, and was pissed off with her for reasons that are too old to remember. I accepted Kohler’s offer to be chief-of-staff of The Age on the promise there’d be more money for editorial and that I could pick some good journos to join us. It was a lie – not Kohler’s, his bosses – so I backed out and asked Michelle for work. She said yes.

Here’s what I wrote of the experience in 2002, on Webdiary:

Today the Herald looks like it’s lost its Canberra bureau chief, Michelle Grattan, to The Age. It is a devastating blow. I haven’t felt so upset over the loss of a colleague since Michelle left The Age in the early 1990s to become editor of the Canberra Times. I left The Age to work for her soon after, and that stint was the highlight of my career. She proved a courageous, dynamic and scrupulously ethical editor who trusted her reporters and stood by them when the heat was on. I wrote my best work under her editorship. Michelle has always been a difficult bureau chief to work for, and we have often disagreed, often intensely. She is also the most thorough, ethical, intelligent and balanced journalist I have ever met. In short, Michelle Grattan is irreplaceable. Web Diary: The quest for trust.

To me her latest move, brought on I would guess by depression as her beloved The Age became a branch office of Sydney, is her second chance at editing a paper. This one is online, and this time she is associate editor, politics. Her move, in my opinion, will come to be seen as marking the death of MSM broadsheet style print media. It’s that big. Here’s what she said:

I think The Conversation gives a new emerging voice, a new opportunity, to broaden the voices in political coverage. Diversity matters because we need many voices, as many as possible, commenting on politics, interpreting politics and I think at the moment what we’re seeing is too much concentration of voices. It’s a bit of an irony that we’re getting this concentration, especially in the mainstream media, while we’re getting the fragmentation of the media in other senses with the internet. Canberra Times: Press gallery stalwart Grattan joins university 

 

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