Life in the Collective

? Andrew Bolt

Interesting description from Tom Switzer at The Spectator about life in the Fairfax news rooms. I dare say the comparison with the Herald and Radio New Zealand here is very close:

I?ll never forget my first week of work in Australian journalism nearly a decade ago. I started work at the Australian Financial Review at the height of the waterfront dispute in March-April 1998. My editor called me into his office … and instructed me what our editorial line would be, which was along the following lines: ?This is a great day for Australian capitalism; at long last, Australia is reaching a big bang end-game in its decades-long quest to remove the shame on its waterfront.?

After writing my first draft of the next day?s editorial for the editor, I then walked around the floor to meet my new colleagues. They were clearly concerned about the docks dispute unfolding outside our Darling Park office windows. One disturbed journalist asked me: ?Comrade, how do you think we are going in the war out there on the waterfront??

Now, the ?comrade? talk naturally astonished me? Leaving that aside, I still assumed that my new work friends meant we in the sense that we were on message with the company line. So keen to assimilate into my new workplace, I thus plagiarised the editor?s refrain: ?This is a great day for Australian capitalism!”?

Imagine my surprise when one senior journalist called me aside and warned me that airing such provocative opinions around the office could amount to a workplace dispute–even though I was merely parroting the paper?s editorial line! My colleagues, you see, belonged to the journalists? union and so had pledged solidarity with the battling wharfies. Never mind that these battling wharfies had held the country to ransom for decades…. I stood out like a cattle rancher at a vegetarian convention.

The episode, though, made me think: if the sober and august journalists at the nation?s leading financial daily had such views about the modern workplace, I wondered how much more entrenched the same attitudes might be among the journalists at the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, as well as at the public broadcaster.