IN MELBOURNE this weekend, Australia’s “media leaders” are all atwitter, mostly about each others’ brilliance -- the staple theme at every Melbourne Writers Festival, of which this year’s NewNews program is a ballyhooed multi-part sideshow. There are certainly some prize exhibits on display. Crikey’s Margaret Simons, for instance, who has been going at it all a’frenzy with her thumb, tweeting a golly-gee, lucky-me delight at being seated in “brain fizzing” proximity to her very special friend, Jay Rosen of New York University’s prestigious journalism school. Simons is a journalism professor herself, albeit at Swinburne Tech University Academy College of Knowledge, which does not command much attention on the world stage but is certainly a power along Glenferrie Road (at least from Methodist Ladies College to the Kooyong Courts, where George & Con’s barbershop asserts its place as the local leading seat of media analysis).
Some years ago, after abetting with her silence a rather limp hoax against Quadrant magazine and editor Keith Windschuttle, Simons wrote several windy pieces about what it all meant and the questions it posed and how it was time for another of those “conversations” about the outrageous prejudices that confine the conservative mind. This resonated with the Age, which sought comment from Robert Manne, his cheeks awash with tears of joy, and Crikey’s then-editor Jonathan Green, who avowed that, while he knew of the hoax beforehand, he felt under no “ethical, journalistic or moral responsibility to save Keith from himself.”
Earlier this year a rather more elaborate hoax – an extraordinarily transparent one, it must be noted – gulled Simon’s friend and former boss, who is now at The Drum, as well as other bright lights in the firmament of Australian leftism. Crikey, which linked to and promoted the late Alene Composta’s inane expose of moose organs and right-wing misogyny, subsequently deep-sixed that endorsement without explanation or apology. Unlike the Quadrant episode, Simons wrote not a word about the jape and what the eagerness to wallow in such drivel says about the progressive mind. Nor did she note Crikey’s deep-sixing of the link or her site’s disinclination to make even passing mention of its short-lived admiration for Composta’s insights.
Simons is a journalism academic. She is spending this weekend with more of the same. They are discussing, amongst other things, how to restore public faith in journalism.
Just to repeat, Simons is a journalism academic.
A NOTE: For some reason, and it is a genuine mystery, the links to Simon's tweets are no longer working. It is inconceivable a journalism professor would delete her record of a public event, especially as they were part of a media critique being referenced by other scholars and observers.
Nevertheless, they have vanished -- a terrible pity in the case of the tweet that announced Margaret's brain had been "frazzled" by Rosen's searing insights.
Must be a technical problem. Must be.