News and Events - Scribe Publications /news-and-events 2014-11-25T00:00:00Z Wolf, Wolf wins kykNET Report Book Prize /news-and-events/post/wolf-wolf-wins-kyknet-report-book-prize/ 2014-11-25T00:00:00Z Kate Blackwood <p>Congratulations to Scribe author Eben Venter, whose book <em>Wolf, Wolf</em> has won the fiction category of the 2014 <a href="">kykNET Report Book Prize</a>, which aims to give greater recognition to books published in Afrikaans.</p> <p><em>Wolf, Wolf</em> is a passionate, disturbing novel set in contemporary South Africa about the unravelling ties between a dying father and his son, and about the changing identity of Afrikaners in post-apartheid South Africa. J.M. Coetzee has described the book as &lsquo;an outstanding novel&rsquo;.</p> <p>Scribe will be publishing <em>Wolf, Wolf</em> in February 2015.</p> Beloved Land shortlisted for 2014 ACT Book of the Year Award /news-and-events/post/beloved-land-shortlisted-for-2014-act-book-of-the-year-award/ 2014-11-19T00:00:00Z marika <p>Congratulations to Gordon Peake, whose book about East Timor, <a href=""><em>Beloved Land</em></a>, is on the shortlist for the 2014 ACT Book of the Year award.</p> <p>The award, which is worth $10,000, recognises quality contemporary Australian literary works including fiction, non-fiction and poetry, by ACT authors published in the previous calendar year. You can see the full shortlist <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p>The winner will be announced in early 2015.</p> My Promised Land longlisted for JQ-Wingate Prize /news-and-events/post/my-promised-land-longlisted-for-jq-wingate-prize/ 2014-11-13T00:00:00Z marika <p>Congratulations to Scribe author Ari Shavit whose history of Israel, <em><a href="">My Promised Land</a></em>, has been longlisted for the JQ-Wingate Prize.</p> <p>A <em>New York Times</em> bestseller whose rights have sold around the world, <em>My Promised Land</em> previously won a National Jewish Book Award and was a <em>New York Times</em> Notable Book of the Year and an Economist Book of the Year in 2013.</p> <p><em>My Promised Land</em> is available in hardback, paperback and eBook from all major book retailers.</p> Shortlist for the 2014 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers announced /news-and-events/post/shortlist-for-the-2014-scribe-nonfiction-prize-for-young-writers-announced/ 2014-11-10T00:00:00Z Kate Blackwood <p>Scribe and Express Media are delighted to announce the shortlist for the <strong>2014 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers</strong>.</p> <p>The shortlisted entries are:</p> <ul> <li>&lsquo;Birds and Knives and Not Talking About It&rsquo; by Robbie Arnott</li> <li>&lsquo;The Queerness of Marriage&rsquo; by Roz Bellamy</li> <li>&lsquo;Bleach&rsquo; by Sian Campbell</li> <li>&lsquo;Adult Industry&rsquo; by Sam George-Allen</li> <li>&lsquo;The Shadow of the Rock&rsquo; by Rebecca Harkins-Cross</li> <li>&lsquo;Will You Look At All These Things?&rsquo; by Patrick Lenton</li> <li>&lsquo;High or Low&rsquo; by Sam Twyford-Moore.</li> </ul> <p>The shortlist was chosen by the editorial team at Scribe, from a longlist of entries compiled by Express Media. The judges were impressed with the quality and range of the entries, which covered genres such as personal essay, criticism, memoir, biography, and reportage.</p> <p>&lsquo;We were thrilled with the entries we received this year,&rsquo; said Scribe&rsquo;s senior editor Julia Carlomagno. &lsquo;There was such a range of pieces, with a diversity of topics and approaches. It&rsquo;s an exciting time for nonfiction writing in Australia.&rsquo;</p> <p>&lsquo;This is strong shortlist, and I&rsquo;m sure readers will be seeing more lively, intelligent, and gutsy works from each of these writers in the future.&rsquo;</p> <p>The winner will be announced at the Express Media Awards at the Wheeler Centre on 4 December.</p> <p>The winner will receive $1500; a meeting with an editor or publisher at Scribe; up to 10 hours of editorial time to work on developing a piece to publication standard or to work on developing it into a book-length project; and a 12-month subscription to Scribe, consisting of one new-release nonfiction title each month.</p> Scribe acquires local Chandler in two-book debut deal /news-and-events/post/scribe-acquires-local-chandler-in-two-book-debut-deal/ 2014-10-23T00:00:00Z marika <p>Scribe has acquired world rights in <em>Grunge</em> and <em>Dead in the Water</em> by the auspiciously named Melbourne-based crime author Tania Chandler. Ms Chandler has studied professional writing and editing at RMIT, and her work was awarded a special commendation in the 2013 Writers Victoria Crime Writing competition. In <em>Grunge</em>, which will be published late in 2015, a wife and mother who claims to have lost her memory may be covering up a murder. The sequel will be published in 2016.</p> Scribe acquires Germany’s ‘Booker’ winner /news-and-events/post/scribe-acquires-germanys-booker-winner/ 2014-10-20T00:00:00Z marika <p>We have acquired World English rights in <em>Kruso</em>, by Lutz Seiler, which was awarded the recently announced 2014 German Book Prize — that country’s equivalent to the Man Booker Prize. Seiler is a multi-award-winning poet and short-story writer. <em>Kruso</em>, his first novel, has sold over 120,000 copies in Germany since its publication in September. We acquired the rights at auction from Nora Mercurio at Suhrkamp Verlag.</p> <p>Kruso is set on a legendary island off the north coast of Germany at the very end of the division of Germany into East and West in 1989. Scribe publisher, Henry Rosenbloom, described it as ‘a beautiful, poetic, multi-layered novel about friendship, freedom, and adventure, with echoes of Daniel Defoe’s <em>Robinson Crusoe</em>. We are thrilled to have been granted the right to bring this outstanding book to an international English readership.’</p> <p>We will publish <em>Kruso</em> in 2016.</p> Congratulations to Richard Flanagan /news-and-events/post/congratulations-to-richard-flanagan/ 2014-10-16T00:00:00Z marika <p>All of us at Scribe would like to congratulate Richard Flanagan on winning the 2014 Man Booker Prize for <em>The Narrow Road to the Deep North</em>. It&rsquo;s a marvellous, and well-deserved, achievement for an author who represents the best of Australian writing and values.</p> Scribe authors shortlisted for the Barbara Jefferis Award /news-and-events/post/scribe-authors-shortlisted-for-the-barbara-jefferis-award/ 2014-10-10T00:00:00Z marika <p>Congratulations to Amy Espeseth and Jacinta Halloran, both of whom have been shortlisted for the 2014 Barbara Jefferis Award for their novels <em><a href="">Sufficient Grace</a></em> and <em><a href="">Pilgrimage</a></em>, respectively.</p> <p>The Barbara Jefferis Award is offered for &lsquo;the best novel written by an Australian author that depicts women and girls in a positive way or otherwise empowers the status of women and girls in society&rsquo;.</p> <p>The winner will be announced in Sydney on 6 November.</p> Just Mercy shortlisted for Kirkus Prize /news-and-events/post/just-mercy-shortlisted-for-kirkus-prize/ 2014-10-02T00:00:00Z marika <p>Congratulations to Scribe author Bryan Stevenson, whose book <em>Just Mercy</em> has been shortlisted for <a href="">The Kirkus Nonfiction Prize</a>.</p> <p>Described by Kirkus as ‘Emotionally profound, necessary reading’, <em>Just Mercy</em> is the inspirational true account of a young black lawyer who grew up in a racially segregated community in the South and went on to found the Equal Justice Initiative. Bryan Stevenson and the EJI defend prisoners on death row, including the poor, the mentally ill, and children being tried as adults.</p> <p>This is a powerful, bold true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix America’s broken system of justice — from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.</p> <p>We will be publishing <em>Just Mercy</em> in February 2014. To watch Bryan Stevenson’s TED Talk, click <a href="">here</a>.</p> Wolf in White Van longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award /news-and-events/post/wolf-in-white-van-longlisted-for-the-2014-national-book-award/ 2014-09-22T00:00:00Z marika <p>Congratulations to John Darnielle, whose novel <a href=""><em>Wolf in White Van</em></a> has been longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award.</p> <p>The US National Book Awards were established in 1950, and celebrate the best of American literature. <em>Wolf in White Van</em>, which we publish in Australia next month, is the debut novel of John Darnielle, who is the singer/songwrietr of indie darlings The Mountain Goats.</p> <p>You can read an extract <a href="">here</a>.</p> Scribe acquires debut Australian crime fiction in two-book deal /news-and-events/post/scribe-acquires-debut-australian-crime-fiction-in-two-book-deal/ 2014-08-26T00:00:00Z marika <p>We have just acquired world rights in two crime thrillers by Melbourne author J.M. Green: <em>Good Money</em>, which was shortlisted in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript; and <em>Too Easy</em>, its sequel. Both books are narrated by Stella Hardy, a wise-cracking social worker with a bad diet and a thirst for social justice, good coffee, and alcohol. <em>Good Money</em> is mainly set in Melbourne’s western suburbs, and its intricate plot features drug-dealing, murder, Russian gangsters, and mining scams.</p> <p>Scribe acquired the rights at auction from Clare Forster at Curtis Brown. <em>Good Money</em> is scheduled for publication in the first half of 2016.</p> <p>J. M. Green studied professional writing at RMIT. Her work has appeared in Overland and received an honourable mention in the Sisters in Crime Scarlett Stiletto Short Story competition. She divides her time between writing in her backyard studio and working as a librarian in Melbourne’s western suburbs.</p> Miriam Rosenbloom wins Best Designed Series at the ABDA awards /news-and-events/post/miriam-rosenbloom-wins-best-designed-series-at-the-abda-awards/ 2014-08-25T00:00:00Z marika <p>We&rsquo;re delighted to congratulate the very talented Miriam Rosenbloom on her win for the Best Designed Series at the inaugural ABDA awards. Miriam won for her work on the David Vogel novels, which can all be seen <a href="">here</a>.</p> <p>We work with many amazing designers here at Scribe, including Jenny Grigg and Allison Colpoys, who both won awards as well (though not for Scribe books). We&rsquo;d like to congratulate them, and all the other shortlisted and winning designers, on an incredible year.</p> <p>You can see the full list of winners (and all the gorgeous covers!) at the <a href="">ABDA website</a>.</p> Scribe acquires book on drug scourge /news-and-events/post/scribe-acquires-book-on-drug-scourge/ 2014-08-19T00:00:00Z marika <p>Scribe has acquired world rights in <em>The Ice Age: a journey into crystal meth addiction</em>, by freelance journalist Luke Williams. The book will be an expanded version of a piece that Williams <a href="">recently had published</a> in <em>The Saturday Paper</em>.</p> <p>Scribe’s publisher, Henry Rosenbloom, described the forthcoming book as ‘a vital, compelling first-person account that will combine memoir with reportage about a drug that has taken a ferocious grip on Australia’.</p> <p>Luke Williams is a journalist and lawyer. He spent four years working on triple j&rsquo;s Hack show before working in business law. He now works full-time as a writer; his work has been published in the <em>Sydney Morning Herald</em>, the <em>Guardian</em>, the <em>Weekend Australian</em>, the <em>Brisbane Times</em>, <em>Crikey</em>, Eureka Street, the <em>Courier-Mail</em> and the <em>Saturday Paper</em>. Last year he was nominated for a National Human Rights Award for his story in the <em>Global Mail</em>.</p> <p>Scribe acquired the rights from Sheila Drummond at The Drummond Agency. The book will be published in 2015.</p> Peter Cotton shortlisted for the 2014 Ned Kelly Awards /news-and-events/post/peter-cotton-shortlisted-for-the-2014-ned-kelly-awards/ 2014-08-11T00:00:00Z marika <p>Peter Cotton&rsquo;s <em><a href="">Dead Cat Bounce</a></em>, which we published in 2013, has been shortlisted for the Best First Fiction Award in the 2014 Ned Kelly Awards.</p> <p>Peter Cotton has been the media advisor to three federal cabinet ministers, as well as working extensively as a journalist, and he makes good use of his experience in <em>Dead Cat Bounce</em>. Set in Canberra, it follows Detective Darren Glass as he races to solve a murder (or three) in the lead-up to a federal election.</p> <p>The judges said: “A detailed procedural with a stoic, resourceful and, of course, slightly renegade AFP detective supported by a plucky girl-Friday journo &hellip; explores some interesting what-ifs involving death and kidnapping at the highest levels of Aussie politics.”</p> <p>The winners will be announced at the Brisbane Writers Festival on 6 September.</p> Scribe acquires The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore /news-and-events/post/scribe-acquires-the-secret-history-of-wonder-woman-by-jill-lepore/ 2014-08-04T00:00:00Z marika <p>We&rsquo;re excited to announce that we&rsquo;ve recently acquired <em>The Secret History of Wonder Woman</em> by <em>New Yorker </em>staff writer Jill Lepore.</p> <p>Lepore’s book tells the story of one of our greatest pop culture icons, as well as revealing the secret life of her highly influential creator and the real heroines who inspired him. Ultimately, she tells the story of women’s experience in the twentieth century as it has never been told before — from the women’s suffrage campaigns of the early 1900s to the troubled place of feminism a century later.</p> <p>Commanding a vast and passionate following, Wonder Woman has never been out of print in seven decades. She appeared in 1941, a liberated and powerful female superhero at a time when women’s role models were stiflingly conservative. Her creator was American psychologist William Moulton Marston, who was inspired by legends of the warrior princesses of the Amazon and by early feminists, beginning with the British suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst.</p> <p>Through extensive research, Lepore paints a compelling portrait of Marston, revealing him to have been talented and charismatic, but also deeply conflicted. He wrote a column celebrating conventional family life, but practised extraordinary sexual nonconformity, with his wife and mistress living under the same roof. The inventor of the lie detector, he lived a life of secrets — which he then spilled onto the pages of the Wonder Woman comics he wrote.</p> <p>We&rsquo;ll be publishing <em>The Secret History of Wonder Woman</em> in November — just in time for Christmas.</p> David Kilcullen shortlisted for the WA Premier's Book Awards /news-and-events/post/david-kilcullen-shortlisted-for-the-wa-premier-s-book-awards/ 2014-07-29T00:00:00Z marika <p>Congratulations to David Kilcullen, whose 2013 book, <em><a href="">Out of the Mountains: the coming age of the urban guerilla</a></em>, has been shortlisted for the Western Australian Premier&rsquo;s Book Awards in the non-fiction category.</p> <p>David Kilcullen is one of the world’s foremost thinkers on counterinsurgency and military strategy. <em>Out of the Mountains</em> is his third book, and is a fascinating look at the future of warfare, which Kilcullen argues will move away from the remote, rural, guerilla warfare of recent years, and into the coastal cities in which 75% of the world&rsquo;s population will be living by 2050.</p> <p>The winners will be announced on 22 September — you can see the full shortlist <a href="">here</a>.</p> Scribe acquires winner of 2014 Vic Prem’s Unpublished Manuscript Award in two-book deal /news-and-events/post/scribe-acquires-winner-of-2014-vic-prems-unpublished-manuscript-award-in-two-book-deal/ 2014-07-21T00:00:00Z marika <p>Scribe has acquired world rights in two novels by Miles Allinson, the Melbourne author whose first novel, <em>Fever of Animals</em>, won the 2014 Victorian Premier&rsquo;s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript in May this year. <em>Fever of Animals</em> is a thoughtful and beautifully observed novel about a man trying to make sense of his life through the prism of two overseas journeys he’s taken; one in which his relationship disintegrated, and the other in which he searches for a Romanian surrealist painter who disappeared in a forest in 1967.</p> <p>Scribe acquired the rights at auction from Clare Forster at Curtis Brown. <em>Fever of Animals</em> is scheduled for publication in 2015.</p> <p>Scribe publisher Henry Rosenbloom said: &lsquo;We&rsquo;re delighted to be publishing Miles, and to be bringing to Australian and United Kingdom readers a genuinely exciting new literary talent. Miles&rsquo; work is characterised by some of the best writing I have seen in an Australian debut.’</p> Scribe designers shortlisted for the Australian Book Design Awards /news-and-events/post/scribe-designers-shortlisted-for-the-australian-book-design-awards/ 2014-07-17T00:00:00Z marika <p>We are delighted to see so many Scribe books on the shortlist for the Australian Book Design Awards! We&rsquo;re so lucky to have such incredibly talented designers to work with. Allison Colpoys, Jenny Grigg, Miriam Rosenbloom; you guys are the best!</p> <p>Congratulations to all the other shortlisted designers, too. You can see the entire shortlist at the ABDA <a href="">website</a>.</p> Scribe to publish John Darnielle's debut novel Wolf in White Van /news-and-events/post/scribe-to-publish-john-darnielle-s-debut-novel-wolf-in-white-van/ 2014-07-15T00:00:00Z marika <p>We&rsquo;re thrilled to let you know about a debut novel we&rsquo;re publishing later this year: <em>Wolf in White Van</em>, by John Darnielle. Some of you may already know John as the singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and basically insanely talented guy behind indie-rock darlings, <a href="">the Mountain Goats</a> — and you&rsquo;ll be pleased to know that he&rsquo;s just as incredible on the page as he is in song. And for those of you who don&rsquo;t — well, we don&rsquo;t know whether to feel sad that you&rsquo;ve missed out for so long, or be jealous that you get to experience him for the first time.</p> <p>Either way, this book is a big one. Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, it&rsquo;s a marvel of storytelling brio and genuine literary delicacy, and it will be out in November.</p> Jonathan Holmes launches Journalism Ethics for the Digital Age /news-and-events/post/jonathan-holmes-launches-journalism-ethics-for-the-digital-age/ 2014-07-09T00:00:00Z marika <p><strong><em>The following is an edited transcript of Jonathan Holmes launching, in trademark erudite fashion, Denis Muller&rsquo;s new book, </em><a href="">Journalism Ethics for the Digital Age</a>.</strong></p> <p>A warning. The following speech is classified as suitable for mature audiences. It contains coarse language.</p> <p>Andy Coulson, erstwhile editor of <em>The News of the World</em>, now serving some 18 months at Her Majesty’s pleasure, was born and brought up in Wickford, Essex.</p> <p>He began his career at the Basildon Evening Echo. Basildon is also in Essex.</p> <p>Essex, of course, is a county that stretches from the eastern fringes of London along the north bank of the Thames to the dismal, marshy shores of the North Sea.</p> <p>South-East Queensland is famous for its white shoes. Essex, for some reason, has always been famous for white socks, worn by its inhabitants with dark business suits. Put ‘Essex white socks’ into Google, and one of the entries that comes high in the responses is a blog called <em>Raedwald</em>, whose author posted this as recently as 2011:</p> <p>‘In the days when I used to commute from Suffolk to London, our table of regulars used to carry out a white-sock count as the train drew into the intermediate stations. Manningtree, the first Essex stop, would have a WSC of some 10%, Colchester 25% and Chelmsford 40%.’</p> <p>Where is all this leading, I hear you ask? Well, it’s leading to Kelvin McKenzie. Unlike Andy Coulson, who never quite made it to Rupert Murdoch’s redtop daily, but like Coulson’s boss, friend and lover, Rebekah Brooks, Mr MacKenzie was the editor of <em>The Sun</em>. In fact, until recently overtaken by Ms Brooks, he was probably the most notorious of that newspaper’s editors. He held the job for 13 years, from 1981 to 1994; it was his genius that put flesh on the bones of Rupert Murdoch’s instinct: that there was money to be made by appealing to the Alf Garnett, the secret inner fascist, in the British working-class reader.</p> <p>One of Kelvin’s most famous bon mots was uttered when some poor sap on <em>The Sun</em> chose to include the word ‘ethics’ in a story.</p> <p>‘Wot’s this?’ MacKenzie is said to have roared. ‘Efficks? Efficks? In’t that the place east o’ London where they all wear white fuckin socks?’</p> <p>What he would have made of a book about journalism efficks which re-introduces us to Hobbes, and Locke, and Rousseau, Kant and Bentham and John Stuart Mill, I shudder to think. ‘Nasty, brutish and short?’, I hear him cry. ‘That’s not the life of man prior to the social contract. That’s description of the ideal <em>Sun</em> headline!’</p> <p>We do know what Kelvin thought of Lord Justice Leveson’s Inquiry into the Essex — I’m sorry, that should read ‘ethics’ — of the press, because he gave his lordship the benefit of his wisdom in a notorious statement to the inquiry.</p> <p>It began: ‘So where is David Cameron today? Where is our great Prime Minister who ordered this ludicrous enquiry?’</p> <p>MacKenzie continued as he had begun, pouring scorn on the questions he had been requested to answer. No, he didn’t check the sources of the stories in his paper, he said. ‘Basically my view was that if it sounded right, it probably was right and therefore we should lob it in,’ he said.</p> <p>There were plenty of laws already, he said, to deal with wrongdoing at the <em>News of the World</em>. The only relevant activity that wasn’t already illegal, but should be made so, was arse-kissing of newspaper proprietors by politicians. ‘Do that and you will have my blessing’ he told Lord Justice Leveson, ‘and I suspect the blessing from Rupert Murdoch, too.’</p> <p>Well, do that in Australia and we would make a felon of every prime minister since Gough Whitlam.</p> <p>But the point is this: around the water-coolers of Fleet Street and Canary Wharf, ethics are not much discussed. British journalists, even more than Australian, are well aware of the constraints imposed by the law — especially the law of defamation. But the idea that a reporter should exercise his or her individual conscience in deciding how, or indeed whether, to put a story in the paper is entirely foreign to the way most papers are run.</p> <p>And with that cavalier attitude to ethics goes — or used to go — an equally insouciant attitude to reader’s complaints. Denis Muller records in the preface to his book that discovering, on becoming news editor of the <em>Sydney Morning Herald</em> in the 1980s, that there were people out there who considered that he and the newspaper were publicly accountable was, and I quote, ‘a searing experience’. Most complainants, he made clear, got short shrift.</p> <p>As it happens, I became executive producer of <em>Four Corners</em> in 1982 — about the same time as Denis got his job as news editor at the <em>Herald</em>. I arrived straight from England to take over what we used to grandly call ‘Australia’s premier current affairs program’.</p> <p>Being a public broadcaster, we took complaints a mite more seriously than most commercial media did. But, when we received a rabid letter accusing <em>Four Corners</em> of being staffed by reds, dedicated to the overthrow of a free Australia, I’m afraid I assumed it was a joke. To someone who knew the country better, the North Queensland postmark might have warned me to be careful.</p> <p>Instead, I blithely wrote back a jokey letter than began ‘Dear Comrade’. I acknowledged that of course he was right, though not many viewers had the acumen to penetrate our admittedly thin cover. We had been working for Moscow for years, I admitted, and fervently believed that the revolution was nigh. And I signed it, ‘Jonathan Holmes, Çommissar, the Four Corners Socialist Collective’.</p> <p>A couple of weeks later — this was in the days of snail mail — my boss called me up to his office, and handed me a letter. It was addressed to the general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, as it then was. It included photocopies of the original complaint, and of my reply. And it was copied to the chairman of the ABC, to each member of the commission, to the prime minister, the minister for communications, the governor-general, and the premier of every state in the Commonwealth.</p> <p>My boss explained to me that my little joke had not struck the ABC’s senior management as especially hilarious.</p> <p>Of course, the worst excesses revealed by the phone-hacking scandal are not commonplace here in Australia. But, as its reaction to the Finkelstein Inquiry made clear, the Australian mainstream media is as loath as ever to acknowledge that it owes much to the Australian public in the way of accountability.</p> <p>When I was at <em>Media Watch</em>, I was frequently invited to give talks and lectures on this topic. I was much given to quoting a passage written by a former editor-in-chief of <em>The Age</em>, and the founding director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism, Michael Gawenda:</p> <p><em>It is my experience that editors and journalists are more interested in burying complaints from readers than addressing them … and that most media organisations have wholly inadequate mechanisms for dealing with complaints by readers, viewers and listeners.</em></p> <p><em>I would bet that most journalists on most newspapers — and indeed in most commercial television and radio organisations — could not outline their organisation’s code of conduct and hardly ever refer to it.</em></p> <p>That wasn’t written back in the 1980s. It was written in 2012 in response to the Finkelstein Report.</p> <p>If they did refer to their code of conduct, journalists would frequently come across the phrase: ‘the public interest’.</p> <p>For example, News Corporation Australia’s admirable code of professional conduct (which doesn’t appear in Denis’s appendices but can be found on <em>Media Watch</em>’s website under the ‘Resources’ tag) contains this injunction about privacy:</p> <p>‘Journalists have no general right to report the private behaviour of public figures unless public interest issues arise.’</p> <p>Denis deals with the issue of public interest extensively in his book. ‘The public interest’, he writes, ‘is not the same as public curiosity, nor is it assessed by whether a story increases newspaper circulation or generates high levels of online clicks’.</p> <p>Well duh! Everyone knows that, Denis, surely.</p> <p>Well, no. In March 2009, Sydney’s <em>Sunday Telegraph</em> and four other News Ltd Sunday tabloids chose to publish pictures on their front pages of a semi-naked young woman who they claimed was an 18-year-old Pauline Hanson. That same day, before it became clear that the pictures were fakes, Media Watch asked the <em>Sunday Telegraph</em> what public interest was served by their publication.</p> <p>We got a swift response to our question from Helen McCabe, the <em>Sunday Telegraph</em>’s deputy editor:</p> <p>‘That’s for our readers to tell. That will be determined by the number of people that buy the paper.’</p> <p>This was from the deputy editor of Australia’s second best-selling Sunday newspaper, and now the editor of Australia’s top-selling magazine, the <em>Australian Women’s Weekly</em>.</p> <p>It makes you realise that for many practising journalists, the ethics of their own profession is — to coin that famous Churchillian phrase — a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. They really don’t understand the notion at all. Which is why — if they could be induced to read it — Denis Muller’s book would prove so useful to them.</p> <p>Not that that’s especially likely. You have far more experience than I, Denis, of the editorial process in a daily newspaper. But the idea that any editor or reporter – especially when facing the deadlines imposed by the digital age – would apply your amended Potter’s Box in an attempt to resolve a pressing ethical issue strikes me, I have to say, as a bit fanciful.</p> <p>As Denis recalls himself from his days at the <em>Herald</em> and the <em>Age</em>, daily journalism is a hard-bitten, rough-and-tumble business. You don’t get the feeling that Fleet Street news editors have ever encouraged moral scruples when there was a story to be got and the competition was tough. I have never believed that the executive producers of our own most competitive journalistic endeavours – not the tabloid newspapers, but the tabloid television programs <em>This Day Tonight</em> and <em>A Current Affair</em>, which went head to head across the nation every evening for decades — ever troubled themselves deeply about privacy, or accuracy, or the public interest. What dominated their thoughts, morning till night, was ratings.</p> <p>Indeed, competition, and the lack of it, is the chief determinant, in my view, of the ethical standard of journalism in any particular market.</p> <p>If Australia’s tabloid newspapers are, on the whole, more responsible, less cavalier about truth and reputation, than their British equivalents, it is not because our defamation laws are tougher — they are demonstrably not. It’s not because our proprietors are more caring: most Australian newspapers belong to the same global behemoth as the <em>News of the World</em> and the <em>Sun</em>. It’s because the London tabloids compete with each other each morning to sell newspapers across the length and breadth of England and Wales — most of those sales coming not from subscriptions but from direct purchases from newsagents. Australian tabloids, by contrast, have a monopoly, or near-monopoly, in their own city. They can afford to be a little more restrained.</p> <p>Or that was the case, until very recently. But now every tabloid newspaper in the country is in a cut-throat competition for online readers, not just with the erstwhile quality broadsheets’ websites, which are every bit as tabloid as they are, but with global providers of tits and tattle like the <em>Mail Online</em>.</p> <p>Working at the latter organ is, by the sound of it, a searing experience, to use Denis Muller’s phrase. The pressure to produce huge numbers of stories each day is intense. Usually they are thinly adapted from other news sources – including, to its continuing fury, from News Corp Australia websites. Some reporters have already left the <em>Mail Online</em>, complaining that there is never time to leave their desks to follow up leads or break genuinely new stories.</p> <p>I would be very surprised indeed if new recruits to the <em>Mail Online</em> were offered training in the efficks of journalism.</p> <p>But at least, these days, young reporters are likely to recognise an ethical dilemma when they meet one. Because so many study journalism at universities, where they are introduced to the notion that there are ethical rules, before they confront the brute reality of the newsroom.</p> <p>It’s as a teaching tool that Denis’s book is likely to be used most. I don’t agree with everything in it. But in a comparatively short space it does traverse pretty much all the important ethical questions that confront our profession. Not only that, but it teases out the philosophical and moral principles that will help us to decide how to resolve them.</p> <p>And it’s at its strongest, in my view, when it deals with the issues that confront journalists reporting on traumatic events like the Victorian bushfires. The first-hand research that Denis and Michael Gawenda conducted with bushfire survivors lends a real credibility to the parts of the book that deal with notions such as consent and privacy. They remind us that good journalism can be of real benefit to its subjects as well as to its consumers, just as bad or thoughtless journalism can be damaging far beyond the understanding, often, of its perpetrators.</p> <p>I haven’t talked to Denis Muller about his view of the Finkelstein report. I know that Meg Simons, the current director of the ACAJ, feels very much as I do — that Finkelstein, with his proposed Media Council, with its potentially draconian powers, enforceable, ultimately, by the courts, wanted to go further than either of us would have gone in trying to force the media to behave ethically.</p> <p>Even though Denis did a considerable amount of consulting work for the Finkelstein Inquiry — after a recommendation by Meg, which, according to <em>The Australian</em>, constituted an ‘interest’ that should have been declared every time she commented on the report — I suspect he shares our view.</p> <p>That might surprise <em>The Australian</em>, which has rather odd views about media academics, and for that matter about media ethics.</p> <p>But there’s not much in this book about media law — about what it compels journalists to do — and nothing at all about whether the media should be subject to heavier regulation. What it is about is the need for journalists to take it on themselves to behave ethically, and how they can work out what that means in the infinitely varied scenarios that our jobs throw at us.</p> <p>Which is terrific, so long as they work for employers who will give them the leeway to act ethically.</p> <p>I’m one of those who has been extraordinarily fortunate: because I’ve worked for public broadcasters for most of the past 40 years, I’ve been able to make a good living doing journalism that was, in my own estimation at least, important, and responsible, and as true as I could make it. I have very seldom felt that I was acting unethically, and certainly have seldom felt any pressure from my bosses or employers to do so.</p> <p>But my five years in the <em>Media Watch</em> chair taught me how lucky I was. For every sloppy, or deceptive, or bullying reporter we pinged, there would have been two or three who were simply behaving as their editors would have expected them to behave.</p> <p>That’s the tough truth, and I’m afraid; and as the struggle to make a buck grows fiercer, it will get tougher still.</p> <p>Denis offers us the Potter Box, but he doesn’t suggest how young reporters should deal with the dilemma they are all too likely to face: what my editor wants me to do is wrong. I know it is. It’s unfair, or exploitative, or a beat-up, or a rip-off of someone else’s work. But if I refuse to do it, my career will suffer, and it’s tough enough these days to make a living as it is.</p> <p>In the end, I believe, it is consumers, not regulators, who will force editors to think more carefully about how they are expecting their journos to behave. As Denis notes, the days of mainstream media immunity are over. Consumers can hit back, through massive social-media pressure on advertisers, for example, when an issue goes viral. It’s a rough-and-ready sanction, but unlike the ponderous proceedings of the ACMA or the Press Council, it’s astonishingly swift and can be brutally effective.</p> <p>But that’s a thought for another time. Kelvin MacKenzie may think that journalism efficks is all about donning white socks and boarding the train at Colchester. Denis Muller reckons it’s about each of us applying the categorical imperative to our messy and exhilarating profession, and doing, as best we can figure it out, the right thing.</p> <p>It gives me great pleasure to launch Denis Muller’s <a href=""><em>Journalism Ethics for the Digital Age</em></a>. Don’t go home without a copy.</p>