Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Different Kind of Newspaper?

Graham Perkin (1929-1975), the editor of The Age (1966-1975), is credited by Eric Beecher (of in his review of Ben Hills' biography, Breaking News, with transforming The Age into "the gold standard of modern Australian journalism over the past half century"; inventing "the paradigm for investigative journalism in Australia"; and creating "an open, ideas-infested newsroom atmosphere." (Tribute to editor who inspired a newspaper's golden age, Sydney Morning Herald, 8/5/10)

Beecher also quotes Perkin as saying, in 1969, "We are trying to produce a different kind of newspaper. A popular newspaper of great quality and breadth. Our paper will look at the whole world, at all people. It will attempt to spread understanding and encourage decency, discourage inhumanity and attack prejudice." (ibid)

Admirable sentiments, of course, but when it comes to the Palestine/Israel conflict, Perkin and his kind all seem to suffer from Achille's heel.

Speaking of which, it just so happens that another, contemporary sufferer, Phillip Adams, was interviewing Ben Hills on ABC Radio National's Late Night Live recently when this little exchange took place:

Adams: Let's look at some of the dark side of the Perkin's moon... I think it's fair to say that there was a lack of balance in Middle East coverage which made the Israelis quite happy.
Hills: Yes, certainly he took a couple of sponsored trips to Israel but... those were the days the '67 war was coming up. It was plucky little Israel against the Arab world. And the Arabs had done themselves no favours by hijacking aeroplanes and blowing them up so... it is quite understandable that public sympathy and the sympathies of The Age were completely with Israel at that stage and that the Arab point of view didn't really get a look in in The Age for many years. (Graham Perkin & the Golden Age of Journalism, 6/5/10)

Seems that even an editor's editor can go weak at the knees under the influence of Israeli pheromones. And just look at our talking heads. When is Adams going to admit to the number of free rides he's given to Zionist propagandists over the years? And here's Perkin's protege, Ben Hills, rushing to the great man's defence with the lamest of excuses.

Interesting too that for Murdoch's Australian it is still, 35 years after Perkin's death, "plucky little Israel against the Arab world."

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