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The Editors: The Australian’s Christopher Dore delivers inaugural lecture

Image: Katje Ford/JNI

Image: Katje Ford/JNI

The Australian‘s editor-in-chief Christopher Dore delivered the first lecture in JNI’s event series ‘The Editors’, on March 24, in Sydney.

He said journalism was on the cusp of another golden age, with audiences wanting high quality, reliable, trusted news and information more than ever.

But he said petty squabbling between journalists threatened to undermine this future, citing the criticism aimed at the national masthead, its journalists and parent company, News Corp, from others in the media industry.

He dismissed much of the criticism as the irrational obsession of journalists on social media.


The following contains some coarse language.



Thank you Mark, and JNI for asking me to launch this lecture series. 

A couple of weeks ago, when Piers Morgan, one of the more colourful Fleet Street editors, was in town we discussed delivering talks such as this about journalism. 

Having “died in the arse”, as he put it, in front of British magazine editors one year he sought out some advice and was told that — in every crowd, 50 percent of the audience will immediately think you are a wanker before you even stand up, so best to spend the first 10 minutes telling them what a wanker you are.

Now I would guess a JNI audience is more sophisticated and polite than a room full of British hacks but nevertheless I’m hopeful the starting number tonight is a little lower than 50 percent. I will certainly take it as a win if that percentage doesn’t go up over the next hour. 

I will not however take that as a given.

I’ll leave the exit survey to Mark’s team and the thoughtful balanced critical analysis to The Guardian.

So with the Piers advice in mind,  I thought I would turn to our new publishing partners at Google to help get a feel for what you might think about me coming in here tonight.

“Racist.” “Apologist for racists.” “Misogynist.” “Climate denier.” 

“Shameful.” Extraordinarily disrespectful.” “A national disgrace.” 

Delving further I’m a “bully”. A “coward”. “Demented”. Alan Jones once said I was “sick” and a “mad lefty”, while some bloke called Mike Carlton calls me a “right wing f***wit”. 

Kevin Rudd reckons I’m an “obscene twister of truth”, a “cancer on democracy” and a “Murdoch thug”. 

And here I was thinking we always got along quite well.

Others on Twitter believe “I’m a cretinous piece of shit” who “churns out evil lies” while running a “propaganda broadsheet”. 

These are people who don’t actually know me, what about those who do.

Another former PM complains about us not publishing his words while refusing to write for us, saying “that would be like feeding caviar to f***ing pigs”. 

Yet another former PM believes I conspired to have him removed from office.

One ex Liberal Premier calls me a “big jerk” and a Labor Premier would ban me from entering Queensland again if she could.

A well-known, very respected Queensland legal figure said this in 2014 when I ran The Courier-Mail: 

I was “An editor who has made the paper an object of derision for thinking Queenslanders by virtue of its debased tabloid standards and blatant pro-government and anti-intellectual bias.”

If anyone here knows how to edit Wikipedia, could you please have a crack at inserting that quote – it is easily the highest compliment I’ve received about my tabloid-editing skills. 

Debased standards and anti-intellectual bias would also make Mr Fischer, my old English teacher at Christies Beach High, very proud.

My favourite though, and these are all from Google searches, comes from an ABC journalist: 

“I worked with Dorey at The Aus years ago. I found him sensitive and intellectually curious. My abiding memory is him encouraging me when I wanted to write a very nuanced piece about an indigenous kid pilloried for a crime that ruined his life. But this headline makes me sad.”

Sensitive and intellectually curious could almost be the nicest thing anyone has said about me.

What’s the point of all this? 

Well it’s not just a device to get you to either revile me more or feel sorry for me —  depending on what 50 percent segment of the audience you’re sitting in right now.

Aside from Rudd, these are not trolls, or anonymous pests on Twitter, these are real people, with public profiles, often the subjects of media coverage, or in many circumstances members of the media. 

Not just opinion writers or commentators, but reporters, hired to objectively, factually cover news events. 

Here they are choosing to disregard the fundamentals of their profession 

to openly express quite colourful opinions, in this case about me, or our journalism, but generally about everything – from politics and sport to the behaviour or professionalism of their colleagues. 

Often, but not exclusively, in areas in which they report, without even a passing thought to how that might be a problem for, at the very least, perceptions of their professionalism.

But let me come to that later. 

I am a naturally optimistic guy.

Ask any poor reporter who has ever heard me, ever so quietly, encourage them with great optimism and matching expectation to undertake an impossible assignment. 

While there are doomsayers who despairingly declare, with a whimper of melancholy, the death of quality journalism.

I believe we are in fact entering a Golden Age of Journalism.

Or at least we could be – some of us. 

If we want to. And we are prepared to make some changes.

I’ve been fortunate enough to edit 4 major metropolitan newspapers in three states over the past decade, including the national daily, The Australian.

How did I get here? 

My father was in the army, and so as a youngster, every two years or so, 

we would pack up our house and move states, from Brisbane to Darwin to country Queensland to Melbourne, Sydney and eventually our final stop: Adelaide, where I finished high school and university.

Those of you who know me understand how fond of Adelaide I am.

In my view the best way to enjoy Adelaide is from Sydney.

Upon landing a cadetship at The Australian, as a 21 year old, I jumped at the chance to move to Sydney.

It was only after arriving at our Holt St headquarters did I realise I was to be a copy kid first.

This meant for six months my job was to, among other demeaning chores, collect lunches and insults in equal measure.

From experience, the old adage “be kind to the copy kid because one day they will end up being your boss” didn’t seem too fashionable at the time.

Turns out many of those old-stagers are just as pleasant in retirement as they were in their prime.

They would call this the Golden Age, it really wasn’t. It was the Bronze Age for sure. 

After finally getting that cadetship I started covering NSW politics before getting a chance at my dream job  in the Canberra Press Gallery when Paul Keating was Prime Minister. 

As a university economics student, Keating was somewhat of a God, who was taking otherwise obscure economic concepts, such as the J curve, into the lounge rooms of suburban Australia, and here I was just a few years later (trying to) ask him questions at press conferences.

In the early days of the Howard government I moved to Brisbane, before returning to Canberra, and then to stints in Hong Kong, NZ and Fiji, back to Sydney, then Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, The Australian, The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Courier-Mail, The Daily Telegraph. And almost four years ago now, after a decade away editing tabloids, back to The Australian, one of the world’s last remaining, truly great, broadsheets.

I have lived in every major city in Australia and New Zealand in fact – except Hobart. 

Fair to say that gypsy experience, reporting on all sorts of Australian characters, in all sorts of circumstances, in all corners of the country, has helped give me a unique understanding of how Australians live and think.

As an added bonus of being an endlessly disrupted Army brat, the youngest of 9 in a complex family where half my siblings are indigenous, and my parents were excommunicated Catholics, was that we always lived close to the barracks, whether it was Darwin’s Larrakeyah, the pinprick Queensland border town of Wallangarra or the western suburbs of Lurnea in Sydney and Broadmeadows in Melbourne.

It meant I was fortunate enough to go to literally the shittiest, most underfunded and, in some cases, the most notorious public schools in four states. 

What that upbringing meant was I got firsthand knowledge of how stuffed public education can be and how governments habitually abandon the poorest suburbs. 

Dreadfully resourced schools, dangerous public transport and at times terrifying public spaces. Many Australians raised in comfortable suburbs, would simply not recognise some parts of this country. 

The disconnect between everyday Australians in the suburbs, their completely alien “lived experience”, and the world of the misguided, pretentious elites in politics, the media and the bureaucracy is real. 

The problem is exacerbated by “progressive” obsessions of the media. 

Robert Thomson calls it the “salon sensibilities”. 

Because so many don’t understand, or dismiss, the simple ambitions of everyday Australians, they prefer to ridicule and belittle suburban culture and celebrate inner-city silliness or the whims of the wealthy and the causes of the connected. 

My upbringing helped me come to understand the differences in each of our cities that go far beyond football codes. From literally the way we speak and think about the world, to inexplicable road rules and fundamentally different approaches to everything from abortion and euthanasia to how late you can buy a drink in the CBD.

For a nation reasonably unified in purpose, I discovered from a young age as I turned up at a new school, in a new state, every few years just how different we can be.

All this seemed rather irrelevant to most families and apparently to journalists.

Until Covid.

Suddenly the country woke up to the reality of our federation.

Now we are left in no doubt that those quirks of history and geography that have seen our states develop ever so uniquely can be exploited by incompetent, selfish and short-sighted politicians, happy to play on fear and drive division for their own political purposes.

While there are obvious differences in the way each state is governed, there is still an overriding national character.

Despite the mocking of North Queensland from the bars of Fitzroy, the pilates classes in New Farm or the cafes in Newtown, the reality is mainstream Australia, for all the geographical eccentricities, shares one significant, well-honed trait – a good bullshit detector. 

Although you could make the case that the closer you are to the CBD the weaker the signal.

A great marker of our success as a publisher at News Corporation, is our deep connections to Australians in every corner of the country.

The economics of publishing, certainly of printed newspapers, will inevitably continue to change the nature of this relationship. 

This is a massive opportunity and one part of the reason I believe we are heading into a Golden Age.

While the amount of money invested in quality journalism is declining, there has never been more demand for high quality, reliable, trusted news and information.

If there were any doubt about this, and I don’t think there has been, Covid has confirmed the status of journalism.

Collecting meaningful and relevant facts and delivering that information, clearly and concisely, teased out and tested for truth, and presented on whatever device a reader wants to use is of high value. 

There has never been more consumers of news, and certainly never been more prepared to pay for it.

This despite an ever expanding abundance of free news and information, either original reporting or repurposed from outlets like ours and given away by others.

The biggest publishers in Australia – the ABC, The Guardian, the Daily Mail, the free-to-air TV network sites and of course our news.com.au – are all free. 

Yet millions are still paying for newspapers and subscribing to news brands with reputations. 

At The Australian this year we will sell more than 22 million copies of the printed edition, 22 million newspapers, and we have more digital subscribers – approaching 300,000 – than any other news site. We have more subscribers now than at the high water mark in Australian newspaper publishing in 2007. 

As journalists and publishers, we have never had more advanced tools and platforms to bring journalism, once really just words and images, to life. Whether through short and long-form video, audio grabs and investigative podcasts, text on images, or digital stories with sound, pictures and words. 

We have access to brilliant new, creative ways to pass on news and express ideas. 

No publisher has quite got right the use of platforms such as Tik Tok and Instagram yet, or NFTs for that matter, too many of us are thinking like users, rather than creating a new way of telling journalism stories that teenagers can’t do from their bedrooms – but we can with the resources of a newsroom. 

Emerging young audiences are avid consumers of news (they may not call it that) and have no qualms about paying for digital content they value. 

Publishers need to embrace this. In theory, it’s simple. 

Focus on High Quality journalism. Relevant. Real. Clever storytelling, and get the user experience right. 

At The Australian, we are about to launch a product in that mold called The Oz. The O.Z. 

From a consumer choice perspective, and even from a reporter’s point of view, there has never been more diverse media either. Audiences now have access to the largest range ever of news, opinion, analysis – all on demand. 

For those wanting to tell stories, there are effectively no boundaries, no barriers to entry to speak of. Find your voice and find your audience. If you can be trusted and reliable and relevant, the chances are you can also be successful.

This is truly amazing. And makes the undergraduate claims from self-proclaimed serious thinkers, and the Greens, decrying a monopoly and the market-warping control of one media company frankly embarrassing.

There is also a great diversity in funding for journalism, including of course the work JNI is doing with publishers. Where journalism was once largely funded either by advertising or the government, the tech giants are now paying for content, consumers more than ever are clicking on their wallets and there are new avenues where content creators can go direct to market – using NFTs, for example.

Habits, technology, platforms, devices all change, but fundamentally the craft of journalism does not. And will not. Trusted. Reliable. Accurate. Fair and relevant.

We now know more about our audiences and their preferences than ever before, so we can serve them better than ever before. 

It’s not the end of serendipity at all – social media algorithms aside – but we have a richer understanding of what readers want. 

In addition, we have proven, quality journalism has value – and sells. 

We are growing audiences at The Australian faster than we ever have.

So, here we have the foundations to build the Golden Age of Journalism.

Why then, doesn’t it feel like it? 

And what is holding us back from realising the potential of this moment?

While my introduction was somewhat lighthearted, the truth is some journalists – vain, self-obsessed, craven, indulgent, needy journalists – are undermining their very profession.

Too many journalists are inserting themselves into their stories – or worse still – into other reporter’s stories.

Some reporters are chasing the cheap love and ready-made approval of the in-crowd instead of chasing the more elusive yarn.

While BF Skinner’s rats eventually learnt from their mistakes and curbed their behaviour, too many reporters, driven by an insatiable desire for positive reinforcement are taking the easy option, clueless to the damage they are doing to their industry, and their own reputation.

I see it every day, and I cringe every. day.

Journalists have always sought the approval of their peers, and print reporters of the past would do anything to land a story on the front page. 

But in the Social Media Age too many journalists have lost perspective and are being misguided. 

They are craving affection. And they are tailoring their behaviour, their public persona and their priorities to get it. 

Once the approval of the Twitter family has been sought and won, you are on your way to success. 

And the quickest way to do this is line up – and attack – the work of another reporter. 

One thing is for sure, on any contentious story, you will upset 50 percent of the readers 100 percent of the time.

On Twitter, you can guarantee a certain crowd will object to a certain type of reporter 100 percent of the time. 

Detail, facts, don’t seem to matter too much either. 

We know social media users will react to a headline alone, and will often never actually read a story they are objecting to and sharing.

Evidently, some prolific practitioners in the media are prone to this too.

But I’ll come back to that.

Adding to this, is an obsession with awards. It has become ingrained in the psyche of too many journalists. It’s a culture often used to exclude certain types of journalism and journalists to reward and reinforce others.

Great journalism by its very nature upsets people. We are not in this business to make friends.

As Janet Malcolm once wrote: “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.”

In my experience, there is a cohort of senior, influential journalists and editorial leaders, and an ever-growing number of younger, vulnerable acolytes, who prey on others, actively, almost reflexively, mocking, ridiculing and immediately undermining the work of some quite courageous journalists who, they believe, do not conform, or who, they believe, do not share their mindset. It is stultifying and the antithesis of journalism. 

With this ostracising sensibility, we see proponents who are quick to judge, to assume motive, and to assign attributes to their self-appointed enemies in the media that they do not see in themselves.

They proudly and publicly exhibit traits that fundamentally break basic rules of journalism. 

In doing so, they play into the hands of every clown and conniver in politics and business, do their readers a massive disservice and unquestionably add to the culture of cover up and censorship.

They think nothing of trashing our profession and don’t even recognise the damage they are doing. 

I am not talking about commentators and those who are paid to express opinions. 

I am talking about working journalists, reporters, and their bosses.

I will come to specific examples, both in the expression of debilitating views on social media, and even worse campaigns to kill stories, some which have come spectacularly unstuck or where hopeless hypocrisy is exposed and mostly ignored. 

How readers and viewers feel about journalists, is now having a defining negative impact on how objective journalism is practised.

In an editorial I wrote last year, one that met with howls of outrage from many journalists, I said this: 

“We live in an age where, ironically, there has never been more information in the public domain, yet less transparency.

“The truth runs a distant last these days when the race is on by public and private institutions to spend millions of dollars to block information reaching the public. 

“Lying, disseminating and dissuading inquiring minds from extracting facts is a massive industry. And as a society we suffer as a result. Power is more than ever about power to protect. 

“Politicians lie without a glimmer of guilt. Business leaders twist and turn to trick and torment.

“Rumours, innuendo and gossip are wilder now than ever, fuelled by anonymous social media scoundrels and half-witted hopefuls, desperate to destroy, through nefarious and any other means possible, anyone who disagrees with them. 

“It is a modern tragedy. And, despite freedom of information laws, suppression, legal and otherwise, and censorship have never been more pronounced.”

What offended and confused some was this conclusion:

“To be (a) good (journalist) you often need to be brash, and brave. 

But to be really good, you need to be beyond reproach. 

“Your loyalty to the truth must be without question. Fairness and balance is your currency. It has to be. Think of the opposite qualities to answer why. 

“The subjects of good journalism, of important journalism, lie and dissemble. Good journalists do not.

“They rely on the truth. They yearn for it. But they understand the limits. 

“In many respects the natural enemy of a journalist, aside from a public relations hack, or a political flack, is the defamation lawyer.

“The most dangerous enemy of the journalist is bad, lazy, deceitful — and I would add dishonest, misguided and misleading — journalism.”

Journalists, once inspired by healthy competition and robust rivalries, are now active players in partisan playmaking, to destroy certain careers, and protect others, by deliberately ignoring stories, running interference and routinely discrediting other reporters’ work or increasingly doing the unchecked bidding of those other reporters are pursuing. 

That is not to say the work of media outlets is beyond criticism or scrutiny. 

But what we are seeing more now goes well beyond that.

And this is particularly the case with a common theme – an irrational and pious obsession with tearing down News Corporation journalism. 

Some reporters are actively working to kill or openly discredit stories. 

This is not entirely new but it has become more brazen. Some reporters, and presumably their editors and producers, have succumbed to a bizarre biligerance toward their colleagues, based entirely on disrespect and a theme practised and promoted by a cliquey, cultish collective.

Today so much journalism has been captured by fashionable causes, leaving any journalist not prepared to conform vulnerable to public shaming, outrageous bullying, belittling and with breath-taking arrogance their work is routinely dismissed, ridiculed and rejected. 

By other working journalists. 

It happens to some of our best every single day, a pile on almost always inspired by a journalist with a blue tick next to their name.

It seems like a lifetime ago now, but when The Daily Telegraph published the Barnaby Joyce Bundle of Joyce front page in 2018, it was met with immediate and widespread condemnation. Not his behaviour. Our story. How could we?

One long-serving Canberra press gallery journalist wrote: “This story about him is shameful non journalism and debases public life.” 

Many others said the revelation wasn’t in the public interest. “Salacious interest high, public interest low” as one put it. 

And a renowned journalism academic, who along with many of her colleagues seems to have a PHD in demeaning News Corporation journalism, said of the Deputy PM getting his adviser pregnant: 

“On balance I would have thought the relationship was nobody’s business.”

Fast forward to more recent times, another media outlet revealed the extramarital affair of a senior Liberal minister, Alan Tudge a relationship which turns out to be far more contested and confusing than the Joyce situation.

This story was met with celebration and praise. Not a word of dissent. Not one tweet questioning it at all. Both men were Coalition MPs – the only notable difference is, one story was broken by a News Corp journalist and the other by the ABC.

There are two more recent egregious examples.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald‘s coverage of the Geoff Bainbridge story is one of the most spectacular, and outrageous, examples of exactly what I am talking about. 

In response to our story about this ice-smoking CEO, Nine’s newspapers, without even contacting us I might add, accused The Australian and our investigative editor of being at the centre of – in fact facilitator – of a criminal extortion racket. 

Apart from that being a patently absurd proposition and non-sensical when you apply any form of logic, the account The Age rushed to publish was obviously, and it turns out easily proven, to be wrong. 

The publication – in the face of video evidence clearly lending itself to a more faithful interpretation of events – inspired an outpouring of abuse and personal vitriol toward us and our reporter, mostly from rival journalists.

When they were shown to have been the subject of an elaborate hoax and had not only conned themselves in their haste to discredit our journalism but had published absolutely identifiably fake news as fact, the editor apologised to her readers. 

No apology to our “criminal extortionist” journalist.

Not from the reporter, nor from anyone at Nine. Not from any other journalist who had happily weighed in earlier.

Another example is The Australian‘s coverage of the Zac Rolfe trial and the life of Kumanjayi Walker, shot dead by the police officer sent out to arrest him.

One major online outlet has now written several news stories, not opinion or analysis, about our coverage, news stories describing us as “a national disgrace”, drawing on the views of three journalists, including a newsreader who believes we were wrong to report facts about the dead man’s criminal past, a reporter who, upset by a headline, also believes we were insensitive in our graphic portrayal, from all angles, of the facts in the case and another reporter who, upset by another headline, took another position, believing, from what I could discern from the nonsensical but popular tweets, that the voice of a domestic violence victim should be silenced.

That same senior political reporter, who publicly attacked our journalism, was apparently miffed when our journalists, privately, questioned her on it.

It’s bizarre. It’s thoughtless, juvenile, self-defeating, and for this to be indulged by media outlets purporting to take big policy issues seriously is embarrassing. 

By all means have opinions, have a debate, criticise and critique, but please take it seriously.

The unimpeachable Rosemary Neill called it out in relation to indigenous reporting. 

“One part of the problem is the “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome, whereby middle-class city residents – and progressive activists including journalists – ignore or downplay complex problems that may reflect remote communities in an unflattering light, if those problems cannot be readily attributed to government or white-run institutions.

“While other media outlets have too often chosen to remain silent about the dysfunction in Indigenous communities for fear of perpetuating negative stereotypes, The Australian has long believed that only by honestly facing up to entrenched problems can solutions be found.

“The inner-city deniers and activists see their self-censorship as racially enlightened. In fact, their silence about the unresolved national emergency playing out in remote communities only exacerbates the “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome, and lets neglectful governments and under-performing white and black agencies off the hook. This, in turn, will mean that more children will suffer – just as Kumanjayi Walker did.”

You can disagree, You can report different aspects of a story.

But don’t sit there at your comfortable desk, nursing your cup of tea flapping away on Twitter about the quality of our reporting.

Go do some of your own.

Competition was and will always be an important driver in what journalists do – being first – or the only one – with the story – the scoop – is still the highest accolade in our business.

Yet what we are seeing far too much activism, partisan reporting lack of objectivity lack of fairness.

Commentary is all too frequently indistinguishable from news reports, unrestrained or encouraged by editors and producers.

Too many otherwise talented reporters are suffering from an horrendous lack of self awareness.

Lazy hot takes are replacing researched reporting. Spitefulness has become a common motivator in what stories to chase 

and protection rackets are commonplace – for mates in the media or for like-minded types in politics.

This all has the effect of promoting a lack of trust lack of respect loss of authority. Integrity and trust.

Those guilty of this behaviour I’m sure believe they are upholding the standards of journalism, when the truth is their hubris and arrogance is doing the exact opposite – damaging the reputation of our entire industry.

But as I said, I am an optimistic guy. 

There is so much brilliant journalism being published by us at News, as well as by so many diverse outlets with unique voices and insightful and valid perspectives.

It is a shame to see that work either going unrecognised or tarnished, when otherwise talented journalists think it’s okay to debase the work of other talented, hard-working reporters.

For likes and love.

We can fix this. If we want to. 

And must if we are to realise the Golden Age of Journalism. 

By all means, unleash commentary and opinion writers. They can be confronting, insensitive, sometimes outrageous and brutal, but at their enraging best are vital, provoking debate, and changing perspectives and behaviour.

But, we must separate reporters from commentary. 

Talking about ABC – or government-funded – reporters this week, Tim Burrowes said journalists at the public broadcaster should use social media to promote news, but must not promote opinion.

He said, the problem is “journalists have really big egos and think the world wants to know what they think, about everything”.

I should be clear, genuine analysis from reporters, as distinct from commentary, is fine.It brings nuance and insight from expert reporters. 

In my view, reporters, not just those at the ABC, must resist expressing their views – in the professional application of their work and in social media channels. 

Reporters must resist the urge to expose themselves to accusations of partisanship and a lack of objectivity. It really should go without saying, it is such a basic concept and the pitfalls so obvious. Express an opinion and you immediately damage your prospects. 

Just stop. Your Twitter feed is a minefield not a daisy-covered playground. 

The love and affection you might experience is an illusion, and is only ever one non-conforming story away from disappearing. 

Ask Peter van Onselen.

Talk up your mates and ridicule your rivals by all means — on WhatsApp instead. Although be careful how you choose your mates.

I have strongly encouraged our reporters, and even many of our commentators, over the past few years to resist the temptations of Twitter, I deleted my own profile several years ago now, having once enjoyed the healthy banter, so disillusioned and dismayed at the dumb and delusional decisions of journalists I like and respect and even once admired.

As we have hired into our newsrooms, dozens of brilliant, ambitious, inspiring graduates over the past few years, I have been struck that we, as senior journalists and industry leaders, have an abiding responsibility to teach these young practitioners good, basic professional habits.

We also must understand what journalism students are being taught at university. 

Insight from too many of our reporters over many years and public statements, again mostly on Twitter, from journalism academics would suggest it isn’t pretty.

What we hear about News Corporation would suggest many journalism academics have views that mirror rivals at other media outlets, are grossly partisan, have little to no understanding or appreciation of what actually happens inside our businessare seriously out of touch. And assume an entire media organisation, one that employs more than 1,000 journalists across the country, acts in bad faith.

It’s a shame, but thankfully so many graduates rise above the polemic pettiness to forge their own path.

We are left with an easy solution – and it’s all there in the code of ethics.







It really is that simple.

Reporters must personally deconstruct news from opinion, in practise and in purpose. And understand partisan perceptions – on every topic including your colleagues – play on perceptions of your professionalism

and diminish the impact of your journalism.

If more of us are committed to the story of Australia and understanding all of those within it. Rather than embracing – to the exclusion of others – activist positions and fashionable causes then we improve our chances as an industry of reclaiming the great and endangered traditions of journalism.

The audience is there – they are demanding it of us. 

We must continue to convince Australians that journalists are not driven by ideological agendas but believe in facts and exposing the best and worst of those who run this country and those who live in it. All of them. 

If more of us can do that. We might have half a chance.

If we don’t. Well, we only have ourselves, and each other, to blame.

As I finished writing this speech, I came across an Asher Perlman cartoon published in the New Yorker on the weekend.

The caption read: “My career really took off once I started prioritising the adoration of strangers over the respect of my peers.”

That essentially sums up my very long lecture here tonight … in only 19 words. 

Which just goes to show. Everyone needs a good editor.