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Panpa Bulletin : June 2006
June 2006 PANPA BULLETIN | 11 PUBLISHING MATTERS Peter ISaaCSon Journalists and publishers like to know about each other as seen from Peter Isaacson’s own bookshelvess There is a fascination about newspapers, about jour- nalists, about publishers and publishing that inspires au- tobiographies and biographies. There's also the proliferation of case histories of successful and failed publications, his- torical treatises, publications on media censorship and edito- rial ethics, of epic stories of writ- ing, photographing and draw- ing under adverse conditions (war, flood, fire, pestilence and famine) and the future of the print media. I suspect such books are mostly bought by those who are media junkies or are dedicated to the craft of writing. Many volumes have been written about Rupert Murdoch. I have four of them - A Paper Prince by George Munster writ- ten when Murdoch was just over 50, the dead-wrong Decline of an Empire written by a trio of Eng- lish journalists who predicted the end of the News Corporation colossus. Neil Chenoweth in Virtual Murdoch claims to have charted the real story behind the rise of News but it is Wil- liam Shawcross who has written the most definitive biography of the mogul in the simply named Murdoch. Murdoch has been compared with many of the other titans of newspaper publishing - Ro- thermere, Katherine Graham, the Sulzbergers, Conrad Black. These and more are referred to in Nicholas Coleridge's Paper Ti- gers which reveals the rivalries, jealousies and obsessions of press tycoons world-wide. One of the first books on the media that I bought was Pub- lish And Be Damned written by Hugh Cudlipp in 1953 to com- memorate the 50th anniversary of the London Daily Mirror. Among other books by Eng- lish newspapermen I have en- joyed are Dear Bill - W.F. Deedes Reports, a memoir by the legen- dary Bill Deedes, former long- time editor of The Daily Tele- graph who is still writing for that paper at the age of 90-plus (Bill is a great friend of Denis Warner of whom I will write more later) and Harold Evans' great story of his 15 years at the heart of The Times and The Sunday Times until he fell out with Rupert Murdoch. Evans was once de- scribed by an English judge as 'the most distinguished editor and journalist of our time, who has won great victories for the freedom of the press'. Evans' book bears out the truth of that description. Australian-born, but UK- domiciled, Phillip Knightley has written many books about the media, military intelligence and his own life. Of the latter genre I have A Hack's Progress a revealing and funny story of his life as a journalist from the time he worked for 'the foul- mouthed, notorious' Ezra Nor- ton in Sydney, to the present day as a widely-read freelance investigative reporter. I haven't read them page by page but have often browsed through the volumes of The History of The Times and The Bedside Years - Writings from The Guardian. Particularly interesting for their disclosures of fairly re- cent media history are Max Hastings' Editor in which he recalls his time as editor of The Daily Telegraph dur- ing the ownership of Conrad Black and Andrew Neil's Full Disclosure. The former Sun- day Times editor recounts the feuds, bad blood and ven- dettas that accompanied the News' move from Fleet Street to Wapping. Publishers, editors and jour- nalists in the United States have contributed to the litera- ture on newspapers. Equal first in my reading is The Trust, Su- san E. Trifft and Alex X. Jones' monumental history of the Sulzbergers, the private and powerful family behind The New York Times and Kather- ine Graham's Personal History, the frank, generous and thor- oughly absorbing story of her life, its highs and lows and the history of The Washington Post which vies with The New York Times as the most influential American newspaper. Gra- ham's long-time executive edi- tor of The Washington Post has written his memoirs, A Good Life, which, among many other exposures, reveals how that newspaper won 18 Pulitzer prizes, published the Pentagon Papers and began the series of exposures that led to the im- peachment and downfall of President Richard Nixon. Considerable space on my bookshelves is occupied by books about Australian me- dia, its publishers, editors and journalists. There is Connie Sweetheart, Valerie Lawson's bi- ography of Connie Robertson, long-time editor of The Women's Weekly into which is woven the story of many women journal- ists going back to the 1940s - Al- ice Jackson, Iris Dexter, Patricia Knox, Rita Dunstan, Nell Mc- Mahon and Caroline Isaacson are among those brought to life again. The founders of a media em- pire are immortalised in R.M. Younger's Keith Murdoch and In Search of Keith Murdoch, a more penetrating profile by Desmond Zwar and in the biography by Don Garden of Theodore Fink, long-time Chairman of Herald and Weekly Times Limited. The Fairfax/Sydney Morn- ing Herald saga is told by Gavin Souter in Company of Her- alds and by Trevor Sykes in his Operation Dynasty, a masterly account of the ill-fated at- tempt by Warwick Fairfax to privatise Fairfax. Also on my bookshelves are the life story of John Norton, the gifted but erratic newspaperman written by historian Michael Cannon in That Damned Demo- crat, Paul Barry's chronicle The Rise and Fall of Kerry Packer, Bill Boyan's City Final, a par- tial history of The Brisbane Tel- egraph, Ash Long's Long Shots in which he meets and writes about 1800 people, the contro- versial Charmian and George which recounts the love story and authorship of this gifted couple, several books by Denis Warner, doyen of Australian war correspondents and foreign af- fairs commentators including his two-part partial biography - Wake Me if there's Trouble and Not always on Horseback - An Australian Correspondent at War and Peace in Asia 1961-1993 with Pathfinder, a biography of you-know-who nestling be- side them. The above does not constitute my whole library of media books nor is what I have anything like complete. There are thousands ands more for the media addict to collect, read or browse. What I have read I have learnt from and enjoyed. I hope you do and will too. Peter Isaacson is a publisher and life member of PanPa. Real page turners