Evocation of Michael Gordon, dead at 62
Death of award winning Australian journalist Michael Gordon following a heart attack while swimming at Victoria’s Phillip Island was not only shocking but unexpected. Veteran Fairfax journalist retired last June after 44 years in journalism, a career mostly spent at Fairfax Media newspapers, he joined The Age as a cadet at age 17, and spent 37 years at the paper and was political editor when he departed. Michael Gordon is one of those journalists that joined the industry when news media was the engine of journalism for Australian society and seen the development in recent decades that has changed it. An inevitable series of transformation in technology, politics and economy has reshaped the communication landscape in Australia. Reportage on major events has raised questions on the quality, impact and the credibility of journalism itself, along with its wide array of interests but there is no single Australian who can question the credibility of the late Michael Gordon work that won him Graham Perkin Award for Australia’s most outstanding journalist at the Quill Awards in 2005.His career was worth celebrating and felt justice was done to his work when he won Walkley Award in 2017 for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism. The Walkley Foundation’s cited in Gordon’s award last year saying: “The overwhelming impression Gordon left with both his byline and his presence was of decency, integrity, fairness and balance. Even when he was working at the epicentre of influence, he held himself outside the media pack. And his compassion shone through as he fought to give voice to the underdogs. He was the first Australian journalist to gain access to the detention centre on Nauru; he spent time in remote communities listening to our first peoples, and won a Walkley for his coverage of indigenous affairs in 2003.”As we all mourn Michael Gordon, it is very timely to reassess the condition of journalism across Australia and ask ourselves whether we shall ever get someone of his quality in the next generation of journalist. There is growing perception that traditional media has lost its control over the definition of news and its key position as a main news source for the Australian society. Unless you live in a cave, you know my now that the role of traditional media has been taken over by decentralized whimsical media technology.Few would disagree that the traditional news brands like Fairfax Newspapers where Micheal Gordon called home for much of his career are still important to generate real and accountable information, at least in theory as a guarantee of credibility.
There is also another view that embraces pluralism of media through the rise of social media and see this as an alternative to mainstream journalism, which often deviates from the professional standard that Micheal Gordon so meticulously demonstrated in his work.Thanks to his professionalism, those of us who read his books and stories were never trapped in a closed information bubble and had the ability to separate facts from hoaxes. Sad that Micheal Gordon retired at the time of decline of physical newspaper like The Age and when the migration to internet media have put it into the big wave of information, fantasy, leaks, conspiracy theories, compassionate and hate speech.There is no doubt decline of Australia’s mainstream and traditional media audience and revenues, the bridge between media and public, and the immense growth of hoaxes in reportage are huge, impactful challenges for the media industry. Australia is one of the countries with the highest internet users facing the widespread of hoaxes and the Michael Gordon’s of this world are badly needed to help us those who want facts and not fiction. Michael Gordon was a journalist who focused on facts of a story and had the ability to shape understanding of the story and made Australian journalism an art process. Thats the challenge with current crop of journalist who don’t understand the art of communication, don’t reach people who need their information and write stories that don’t connect with the Australians. Micheal Gordon knew very well that presentation is the key to information distribution.Micheal Gordon was an extra ordinary breed of journalists who knew relations between journalism and the public can only be measured on how journalism strengthen public’s interests in politics, an area where he extensively and incisively wrote about. As your blogger eulogies the sudden demise of Michale Gordon, those left behind must realized that journalism must be attractive and relevant. What is happening today in Australia is interesting from the debate of hoisting aboriginal flag on Sydney Harbor Bridge to recently enacted same sex marriage, but what is happening now should give impact to quality of life in the future, an important factor that Micheal Gordon exhibited passionately in his work. Rest in peace Michael Gordon, will forever remember you as an inspiration.