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Jun 21, 2011

Mitchell’s ‘magnificent obsession’: the man behind The Oz

As editor-in-chief since 2003, Chris Mitchell has used The Australian like a weapon to fight what often appears to be personal battles on a great many fronts.

Andrew Dodd

Media lecturer and journalist

Lyall Johnson had only been working for the Minister for Communications, Stephen Conroy, for a few days when he was directed to escalate the war between the government and The Australian.

As the minister’s press secretary, Johnson’s job is to respond directly to queries by journalists. But on May 24 he was told to break with tradition by putting his response to a journalist’s questions into a general press release and distributing it to the entire press gallery.

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23 comments

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23 thoughts on “Mitchell’s ‘magnificent obsession’: the man behind The Oz

  1. Mark Duffett

    “…David Salter, the editor of The Week…”

    Shouldn’t that be former editor?

  2. michael crook

    The Australian is the campaign newspaper for the ideological right, advancing the power of corporate control of our world,it purports to be believe in the sort of “laissez faire” governments that preceded the formation of workers parties in the 19th century. It does not bother itself with such troublesome concepts as truth, justice or fairness. I stopped reading it some time ago as I realised that every moment of my life spent reading this shitfest was a moment of my life wasted.

  3. Modus Ponens

    Mitchell gave the game away when he frothed that he wanted ‘to see the Greens destroyed at the ballot box’.

    Bad strategy.

    His ego is becoming increasingly embedded in the paper. Look forward to getting the Australian back when he leaves…

  4. tinman_au

    I’d be surprised if anyone was actually surprised about any of this, The Oz is, after all, a paper version of Fox News, and FN’s audience is also considered one of the most misinformed ( http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thecutline/20101217/bs_yblog_thecutline/study-finds-fox-news-viewers-most-misinformed-on-issues ).

  5. Pete from Sydney

    Not too sure about quoting Mark Latham…..“Some have labelled the newspaper’s approach as ideological. It is, in fact, egotistical.”….though there’s a bloke who’s certainly well acquainted with ego

    Just seems a bit ‘Pot Kettle Black’ to me

    PS what journo hasn’t been told…’;your editor want you to look at a particular story’…that’s why they’re the editor

  6. Pamela

    Response from Oz Journo today when I queried the approach to a story on one of the Oz well honed themes-

    don’t subscribe to the conspiracy theory view of the Australian……
    rather Chris Mitchell’s approach has been clever in carving out a distinct identity and a personality for the paper in a dying market.

    Is this what it is about?

  7. mikeb

    Trust Latham to encapsulate the argument with brevity and wit. For all his faults he sure can write memorable prose.

    Oh and Andrew Dodd – your article is spot on

  8. klewso

    “A newspaper which aspires to play a constructive role in civic society …..”? Implication being, his charge is?
    I’m not an engineer, but I reckon for anything to be “constructive” there has to be 2 sides considered at least – and “half-hearted lip service (at best – egocentric, partisan dismissal at worst)” doesn’t constitute one of those.

  9. Mark from Melbourne

    I was quietly gobsmacked that the Weekend Australian article on the PM’s anniversary was quite even-handed, insightful and dare I say it, positive. Written by Tom Dusevic I think. Or maybe because Mitchell doesn’t think anyone reads the Magazine. Or maybe, he doesn’t read it! Sorry if I’ve dobbed you in Tom…..

  10. Timmy O'Toole

    I don’t disagree with Andrew’s article and his analysis, tired as the whole debate is getting. But that’s not his fault.

    As a regular reader of Crikey over the years, but particularly in the last year, I would argue that Crikey is beginning to emulate the Australian. I am not sure that this is entirely conscious but, like the Oz, Crikey has a ‘preachy’ tone and is increasingly ‘self-aware’ (but not yet as obsessed…!) with its own role as an ‘alternative’ media voice . I dare say that it really isn’t much of an ‘alternative’ any more, especially when you compare its content with the Age/SMH.

    Like the Oz- and the media generally- it encourages its writers to develop profiles and to then generate copy/analysis that rests on the writers’ own untested assumptions. I refer particularly to your political reporter who essentially chases as many rabbits down burrows as any one in the Oz does.

    I don’t seek to trash Crikey- I pay to read it and will continue to do so- but it ought to be frank with itself. You guys are as pro-NBN and as pro-Climate Change action as the Oz is ostensibly ‘anti’ these things. I don’t have a problem with your positions, and largely support them, but maybe get off your high horse a little or one “might be tempted to use words like pot, kettle and black.”

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