I originally wrote this as part of the comment conversation on the last post, but I'd quite like to say something positive about journalists in a more accessible spot so here it is again. RIP Hume. (The other one's still alive.)
Such a strange profession.
I owe most of what I know about the
art and craft of writing to one journalist, a man called Hume Dow, who
was older than my parents, and who had worked on the Age, which I think was back then still the Argus,
with George Johnston and Charmian Clift during WW2. Whenever he talked
about the gorgeous and brilliant Clift, he was unable to finish any
given sentence. He would just waver off in mid-syntactical construction
and gaze off into the middle distance. Hume taught me how to proofread
properly and what good 18th century prose looked like and why Hemingway
in A Movable Feast, but not in his fiction so much, was a miracle of writing.
of my major mentors, whom I knew intimately and won't name (grounds,
incriminate, etc) was also an exceptional journalist before he moved on to other pursuits. I have great
respect for a number of contemporary Australian journalists
(Megalogenis, Tingle, Marr, Grattan, Colvin et al), not to mention the legendary
international ones, and I have just finished reading a novel about two
heroic journalist-photographers, Gerda Taro and Robert Capa, who both
died in the service of their vocation. And I think all these things may
be why I hold the bad ones in such contempt.