Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What The Age has lost

I was browsing the Institute of Public Affairs website in search of information on internships when I noticed Tony Parkinson's essay (published this month). Parkinson actually used to write for The Age as the paper's foreign editor but judging by his by-line he has now switched to being an advisor to the foreign minister. It’s unfortunate because he was one of the few really good columnists - in my opinion anyway - at the paper, apart from Gerard Henderson who was kicked off and made a fuss in Crikey. Or maybe an advisory role is the best thing in terms of influencing policy?

The other occasionally good one is Hugh White. And Andrew Bolt at The Herald Sun is fabulous if you ever need to cite someone taking an unorthodox view on a particular issue. But my all time favourite writers are at The Australian – people like Paul Kelly and Alan Wood. Overseas, I like Thomas Friedman, Gurcharan Das and Swaminathan Aiyar. What all these thinkers seem to have in common is strong opinions developed over time and the ability to express these in bite size and easily digestible opinion pieces. Aiyar’s website in particular is a very good resource and I’ve found him to have a quite clear understanding of what a developing nation like India needs to get off the ground.


At May 27, 2006 12:36 pm, Anonymous Michael said...

Perhaps what those writers lack are an ability to bend those strong opinions when neccesary and to un-hitch themselves from wagons when they get caught up.

I'm speaking from an SMH perspective, but the few writers there I consistently enjoy reading include: Ross Gittins, Elizabeth Farrely and, well, sometimes Michael Duffy. I used to put Gerard Henderson in the same category as Duffy, but not any more. Oh not any more.

Hugh White, yes, Thomas Friedman, yes (until he gets 'political') but Andrew Bolt, are you out of your mind? If you mean someone with an unorthodox, illogical and vendetta filled view, then yeah. But it's not too often that referencing would prove useful methinks.

Anyway, just some opinions from someone trying to seperate the wheat from the chaff, but coming from a different direction. I'd be interested in your opinions on which commentators particularly inflame you?

At May 27, 2006 6:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right about Bolt - I first started reading him after his column on Michael Moore. Sometimes he is ultraconservative eg I remember him calling for certain rap singers to be kept out of the country. But because he *aims* to be controversial I ocassionally turn to his articles to see what the other extreme of a particular issue is. There's no one in the "inflame" category, except perhaps Maureen Dowd.


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