AUTHOR Richard Flanagan’s attack on the Tasmania media, Hope of our tomorrows, has enraged many journos , who say he should pull his head in.
Flanagan gave the media a bollocking at the official launch of Tasmanian Times — which he holds in high esteem. He accuses the local media of toadying to the Lennon Government, which in turn toadies to the state’s two major players, Gunns Ltd and Federal Hotels, who call the shots in the apple isle.
While a lot of journos are furious at the blanket condemnation of their professionalism, they don’t want to go public. But they do say that his criticism should be directed at editorial management, not hacks on on the ground.
Most say they are fed up with the prize-winning novelist and former Rhodes scholar, saying he has become evangelical in his zeal to present The Truth According to Richard. And they say that those who disagree with him are seen as part of the Evil Empire.
One of the few to speak on the record is Wayne Crawford, a Walkley winning senior journalist at The Mercury. Crawford isn’t one of those seething at Flanagan’s critique, but he doesn’t accept him as an impartial judge of media performance.
“I have great admiration for Richard as a writer and a thinker,” he told Crikey. “But someone who wears his heart on his sleeve as prominently as he does is not really someone to set himself up as an authority on journalistic excellence.”
But former ABC journalist Judy Tierney, agrees with Flanagan, saying too many journos accept liberal doses of bullshit from government minders and they, she says, have forgotten whatever journalistic ethics they once had.
Tierney spent 30 years with the ABC, as ABC Radio Morning presenter, ABC TV 7.30 Report state presenter, then national reporter, and Tasmanian correspondent for Australian Story.
“Generally I have to agree with Richard,” she told Crikey. “While I do truly believe we have a handful of probing and determined journalists on the job, sadly too many so called scribes get put off by bullying and self-important government minders.
“I can’t remember voting for these gate keepers who seem to think they can influence outcomes on behalf of their ministers.
“Minders seem to forget they are merely the conduit between the media and the parliamentarians who employ them.
“Journalists need to be more forceful in their dealings with minders, the numbers of which have burgeoned over the last 8 years.”