Leading conservative intellectual Dr Gerard Henderson has tried to offer some balance to the hysterical reporting by the Sunday Age (Fairfax media) about my story on Garrie Hutchinson
His letter to the crikey news website:
Gerard Henderson writes: Re. “Fairfax bosses put strikebreaking to good use” (yesterday, item 17). Crikey editor Jonathan Green yesterday bagged the quality of last weekend’s Sunday Age — asserting that it provided “a little window on the world of journalistic practice as senior Fairfax managers see it”. He objected to the fact that the Sunday Age Page One story during the journalists’ strike featured “the routine weekly compilation of Melbourne house sale results”. Well, at least house sale results are news.
This cannot be said of the Sunday Age’s lead story in the two weeks before the strike. On 17 August the Sunday Age ran a Page One lead by Tom Hyland, with a flow-over to Page 8, on the fact that freelance journalist Sasha Uzunov had opposed the involvement of one time leftist Garrie Hutchinson in Vietnam Veterans Day. Gee wiz. There was also an editorial on this.
Hutchinson has never denied the fact that, at Melbourne University all those years ago, he took the fashionable leftist line and supported the Viet Cong, Ho Chi Minh and all that. In view of this, it is hardly surprising that a returned serviceman like Uzunov would object to Hutchinson’s involvement, as a Victorian public servant, in Vietnam Veterans Day. In any event, the Vietnam War ended over three decades ago. For the record, on 17 August the Sunday Age reported Russia’s contemporary invasion of Georgia towards the back of the first section. How’s that for news sense?
Then on 24 August the Sunday Age ran Michael Bachelard’s whinge titled “Going for gold, but at what cost?” as its Page One lead. This was the familiar we-spend-too-much-money-on-sport mantra. With the help of a self-declared “sports academic”, Bachelard calculated that “taxpayers have forked out $16.7 million for each of the 13 gold medals won by Australia’s Olympic team in Beijing”. This analysis implies that silver and bronze gongs were won for zip. How’s that for logic? And it’s certainly not news. This suggests that and Page One of the Sunday Age is more newsworthy when the likes of Hyland and Bachelard have downed their computers and are busy on the picket lines. Fancy that!
For the record, I never opposed Mr Hutchinson’s position as a Veteran’s Heritage Officer. I was simply reporting on the views of a number of Vietnam Veterans.
Tom Hyland on Gerard Henderson (September 4): I think Tom is being too clever here. For the record I never objected to Garrie Hutchinson as a Veteran Heritage Officer. As a journalist I was simply reporting anger from the Vietnam Veteran community.
But I think Dr Henderson is right because the tone of Tom’s article by clever inference left no doubt that I was somehow pushing a hidden agenda. Im a journalist, not a spokesman for any group. Let me quote the Hyland article (17 August 2008, Sunday Age):
“The opening round was fired by freelance journalist Sasha Uzunov, a man on a curious crusade.”
“Last Thursday, after Mr Hutchinson stepped aside from his position, Uzunov issued an email describing himself as a “fearless freelance photo-journalist” and boasting he had broken a story “that others seem to be too afraid to raise”.
“Uzunov, a former soldier who served in East Timor, describes himself as a military affairs expert. He complains he is not taken seriously by mainstream journalists who are jealous of his claimed expertise. His self-published stories include emails in which he demands that men who were of military age in the 1960s justify why they didn’t serve in the army.”
I hope this will be the final say on this.
The Hyland article, in salty army barracks language, tries to tear me a second behind!
The part about the fearless freelance photo journalist comes from a group email addressed to The Age’s Defence correspondent, Brendan Nicholson, who actually has a sense of humour….and calls me from time to time seeking defence tips. I wrote …whilst Brendan Nicholson was having cookies and warm milk in cold Canberra, fearless reporter Sasha Uzunov breaks the story etc etc. It was a piss take! But Tom didn’t mention that.
As for asking why our leading defence experts do not volunteer for military service, as a journalist Im proud to be asking this question. If I were a journalist covering the legal beat, i would be asking if “legal experts” had some form of training in the law; likewise if they were medical experts, I would ask if they had medical training.
Tom Hyland, The Sunday Age, writes: In his note to Crikey, Gerard Henderson (Tuesday, comments) criticised recent story selection by The Sunday Age. He referred to my August 17 story in the paper, regarding Garrie Hutchinson. Minor detail, I know, but the story was not the page one lead. Another minor detail, I suppose, but on any reading the story was not about the ”fact”, as Henderson put it, that Sasha Uzunov had objected to Hutchinson’s involvement in Vietnam Veterans Day.
No one I spoke to stated any such objection, nor am I aware of any planned involvement by Hutchinson in the day. Instead, the story was about how veterans’ representatives objected to Hutchinson’s work in the veterans unit of the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development. As to whether the Hutchinson issue was newsworthy, I’d have thought Henderson of all people would be aware that positions people took during the Vietnam War — and the Cold War — continue to resonate, decades on. Come to think of it, it’s a theme Henderson has laboured more than twice. Final point, but I spent no time on the picket line last weekend. There was no picket line. Fancy that. Sorry if I quibble, but perhaps Henderson’s propensity for pedantry is infectious.