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Type: Theses
Title: Paul Kelly and George Megalogenis: media intellectuals in Australian politics
Author: Kemp, Paul William
Issue Date: 2018
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences: Politics & International Studies
Abstract: Paul Kelly and George Megalogenis are Australian journalists and political historians who have been influential in their interpretation of contemporary Australian political history. This thesis supports the claim made – sometimes critically – by scholars ranging from James Walter to Robert Manne, and politicians ranging from Gareth Evans to Tony Abbott, as well as fellow elite journalists, that they have both been significant figures in articulating, in Australian political discourse, the effectiveness of market-orientated policies as the foundation of national political and economic success since 1991. Their central point is that the Australian version of what may be categorised as neoliberal policies, which Kelly has called `Australian exceptionalism’ and Megalogenis has labelled variously `pragmatic deregulation’ and `the Australian miracle’, constitutes a unique achievement in Australian history. The research finds this remains, with some caveats, a valid interpretation. Yet, as the first comprehensive survey of their books and journalism, it also finds the former have some limitations; particularly that insufficient attention is given to the problems of political disengagement, economic insecurity, inequality and the effect of the media on political discourse. Nonetheless, it finds their books remain valuable as historico-qualitative accounts of Australian executive government, from the Whitlam government onwards, and they have strengths that give them continuing relevance alongside current and subsequent academic histories that offer explanations from a broader range of perspectives. The research also addresses criticisms concerning their role as journalists for The Australian, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited’s flagship newspaper. A content analysis of their commentary demonstrates that while their journalism is, on economic matters, broadly in line with their employer’s ideological world view, they are also practitioners of what American scholars call `knowledge journalism’. That is, they bring a degree of contextual explanation and analysis to their commentary which enhances debate in the Australian political public sphere – even in an era of declining newspaper revenues and readerships where their salience in the space of opinion has clearly waned. The thesis also adds to the literature on public intellectuals in Australia and finds they should be classified as such on a number of grounds. Specifically, it confirms the assessment that they operate as `organic’ intellectuals who, in effect, speak to the elite group of politicians, political operatives, policy-actors, journalists and politically-engaged voters who constitute the political class. Their championing of a particular model of political leadership and economically liberal policy directions has indeed been referenced and recruited by a range of politicians, journalists and policy actors. The research confirms their status as `super achievers’ among Australian political journalists stems from a range of factors including: their skills across a range of media platforms; recognition from journalistic peers; access to the highest levels of official power and their commitment to writing political `history of the present.’ It is this status which underpins their authority as media intellectuals in the increasingly complex and multifaceted space of mass-mediated opinion that is a central feature Australian federal politics.
Advisor: Johnson, Carol Ann
Errington, Wayne
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2017
Keywords: Paul Kelly
George Megalogenis
Australian politics
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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