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P. 1
Perkin Speech 1972

Perkin Speech 1972

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Published by tom4078

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Published by: tom4078 on Mar 25, 2012
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01/10/2014

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CANYOUBELIEVEWHATYOUREADINTHEPAPER?
Oneoftheformalitiesoflecturessuchasthisistopaysometributetothedistinguishedjournalistswhosenameitcommemmorates
o
Icanonlydosoinblindignorance~IdidnotknowAlecWilkieatall.IknewSydDeameronly'alittle,butappreciatively.Attheriskofmakingsomeofyoufeelveryold,andattheriskofgreatinjusticetoothergenerations,IoughttoaddthatIknewhimbestasAdrianDeamer'sfatheroIndeed
p
myfirstcontactwithhimwasin
1949
whenIwasplan~ingahitch-hikingtourofAustraliawithanothercadetjournalist
p
DeamertheYoungerwasthenacolleagueon"TheAgell~Hetoldustocallanhisfather
if
weneededanyhelpinSydney.WesoughtoutSydinhisofficeintheoldHeraldbuildingandhe~verydeviously,arrangedforustogetaliftonapapertruckasfarasCofflsHarbor.Averyuncomfortablerideitwasptoo.BundlesofSydneyMorningHeraldsmakepoorupholstery.Once,muchlater?IhaddrinkswithSydinthisClubwhileIwascoveringaRoyalTour.HesuggestedastorytomewhichIwroteandclaimedasmyown.Soinaveryminorway,Irememberhimwithaffectionandregarde
4~&~
_::)~~/~~L
~~1'1
7
:?...
rJ-~-)
 
-2-
Iknowtherearebetterreasons,sharedbyagreatmanyhere,forrememberingbothSydDeamerandAlecWilkiewithaffectionandregard.Inrecent.years,thislecturehasbeenverymuchconcernedwiththelegalaspectsofmodernjournalism.Ihavenoquarrelwiththis;therearesomeaspectsofourworkasiteffectsthelawandParliamentwhichdeservediscussion.Butthispatternratherdeterredmefromfollowingmyfirstinclinationwhichwastotalktodayaboutthestateo:fAustralianlibellaws.Asmynewspaperisjoinedinabout
$23
millionworthoflibelactionsintheNewSouthWalesSupremeCourtnextweek,Icouldh1:\Vl!=liscussedthissubjectwithunassailablesincerity.Therewasthissubject,libel,andthedemonstrablefactthatAustraliannewspapersarepublishedinthemostrestrictivelegalatmosphereknowntoWesternman,anat$ospherewhichpreventsus,quiteoften,fromtellingthetruthandwhich,veryoften.preventsusfromdischargingtheprimaryfunctionsofafreePress.Butyouhavehadyourfilloflaw,andIamnolawyer~Apartfromwhich,Ihavesaidmypieceonthesubjectsooftenaridwi·thautapparentresult.SoIabandonedlibel.Whowouldtakeanynoticeofsuchaself-interestedadvocate?
•../3.
 
-3-
Otherthingsoccurredtome.Ire-readJohnPringle'sinaugurallecturewithitsjustifiablelamentforthestandardsofwritinginAustralianjournalism..forthedearthofnewideas.AsIthinkhemightagree,thatstatehaschanged.Andifithasn't,it'snolongerpossibletolookatFleetStreetandmakeinvidiouscomparisons..Indeed,onemightmakeastrongargumentthatthecomparisonsnowworkinreverse..AndtheUnitedStates.JustbeforeChristmas,IsatinPunchSulzberger1sofficeatthe
New
YorkTimesandheardhimsay:"Everyonetellsusitsthe·greatestnewspaperintheworld,butno-onebuysit.Perhapsweought.tostartagainanddoitdifferently."Afterthi~ingaboutit,IthoughtIwouldcomeclosertohomeandspeakaboutaproblemthat,ifwearehonestwithourselves,plaguesusall.Theproblemofbeliefinnewspapers,thestateofourpublicreputation.Inafewdaystime,theA.J.A.ismeetingtheproprietorsofAustraliatodiscussformationofaPressCouncil.Ihaveonlyaslightideaofwhatthe
A.J..·A.
hasinitsmindandI'mnotveryconfidentthattheproprietorswillagreewithitanyhow.But,quiteclearly,
theA.J.A.
wouldnothaveadvancedtheideaandpursuedthemeetingifitfeltthatallwaswellwiththePressinAustralia.Idon'tthinkanyofuswouldarguethatwearewriting
agloriouspage
in
thehistoryoftheAustralianPressatthemoment
•••/4.

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