Sally Young Meet the Author

20 Jun 2023

ANU/Canberra Times. Meet the Author. Sally Young

Sally Young will be in conversation with Mark Kenny on her new book Media Monsters The Transformation of Australia’s Newspaper Empires, which uncovers the key players, their political connections and campaigns and the corporate failures and triumphs of the companies that still influence Australia today.

In 1941, the paper emperors of the Australian newspaper industry helped bring down Robert Menzies. Over the next 30 years, they grew into media monsters. Sally Young’s book reveals the transformation from the golden age of newspapers during World War II, through Menzies’ return and the rise of television, to Gough Whitlam’s ‘It’s Time’ victory in 1972.

During this crucial period, twelve independent newspaper companies turned into a handful of multimedia giants. They controlled newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations. Their size and reach was unique in the western world. Playing politics was vital to this transformation. The newspaper industry was animated by friendships and rivalries, favours and deals, and backed by money and influence, including from mining companies, banks and the Catholic Church.

Even internationally, Australia’s newspaper owners and executives were considered a shrewd and ruthless bunch. The hard men of the industry included Rupert Murdoch, Frank Packer, Warwick Fairfax’s top executive Rupert Henderson, and Jack Williams, the unsung empire builder of the Herald and Weekly Times.

‘Essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in how power has been exercised in this country.’ Frank Bongiorno.

Sally Young is Professor of Political Science at the University of Melbourne, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities and a regular media commentator. Since 2019, she has been a research committee member of the Centre for Public Integrity contributing expert advice on research aimed at strengthening Australian democracy. Paper Emperors: The Rise of Australia’s Newspaper Empires ( 2019), the first in her series on the political and corporate history of Australian newspapers, was awarded the Colin Roderick Literary Award, the Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) Henry Mayer Book Prize and was long-listed for the Stella Prize.

Mark Kenny is Professor at the Australian Studies Institute at ANU, where he hosts the popular podcast series ‘Democracy Sausage’ .Mark is the Canberra Times political analyst and a regular on the ABC’s Insiders program, Sky News Agenda, and radio programs across the country.

The vote of thanks will be given by award-winning author, Frank Bongiorno AM, who is a Professor of History, Research School of Social Sciences ANU and President of the Australian Historical Association.

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event.


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podcast will be made available after the event.

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