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Michelle Grattan joins University of Canberra and The Conversation

One of Australia’s best-known journalists, Michelle Grattan AO, will leave her role as political editor of The Age newspaper…

Political journalist Michelle Grattan and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Professor Stephen Parker. University of Canberra

One of Australia’s best-known journalists, Michelle Grattan AO, will leave her role as political editor of The Age newspaper to join University of Canberra as a professorial fellow and become an associate editor for The Conversation.

A member of the Canberra parliamentary press gallery for more than 40 years, Ms Grattan’s new role at the university will include teaching and research projects in politics and political communication, lecturing, public commentary and strategic advice, the university said in a press release.

She will join The Conversation as Associate Editor (Politics) and Chief Political Correspondent, saying she was delighted to be contributing to academic life while pursuing political journalism.

Her new role at The Conversation will include helping with election coverage and “writing sensibly on this very exciting election”.

“I believe very strongly in the diversity of voices covering politics and I think The Conversation gives a … new opportunity to broaden the voices in political coverage,” she said.

“At the moment, we’re getting too much concentration of voice, frankly, and it’s a bit of an irony that we’re getting this concentration especially in the mainstream media – when we’re also getting the fragmentation of the media with the Internet,” she said.

“These two things seem contradictory but they are actually happening at the same time. So I think diversity of political coverage, especially in an election year, is a really important thing.

The Conversation helped provide a voice for Australian universities and academic experts in a range of fields, she said.

“I think that’s one of its strengths. It can attract people who are in a whole lot of specialist areas whether it’s science, whether it’s the environment, whether it’s economics … or whether it’s politics… It’s been quite an innovation.”

Ms Grattan said she was not asked to leave or “in any sense pushed out of Fairfax or The Age”.

“One makes decisions, though, and we’re moving into the digital era and I’m doing that first.”

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker said he was highly pleased to welcome Ms Grattan to the university.

“She will add to our contemporary and real-world teaching and research and be an invaluable source of advice,” he said.

“We support The Conversation. It has encouraged our academics to write their work up in a way that is accessible to an intelligent lay audience,” said Professor Parker.

“I think that’s an important skill. And we’ve found that many of the articles written by our academics are then picked up by the media, so it relays onwards to a wider world.”

Andrew Jaspan, editor of The Conversation and former editor of The Age said he was “truly delighted and honoured to be working again with Michelle”.

“I thoroughly appreciated her advice, professionalism and acute political savvy while working with her at The Age. She epitomises the very best in political journalism,” Mr Jaspan said.

“Stephen Parker, the VC at Canberra University, has made this happen and we are indebted to his commitment to quality journalism and academic leadership,” he said.

“And because we publish everything under Creative Commons, every other media outlet is free to share and republish Michelle’s journalism. As with any national treasure, she is too good not to be shared.”

Professorial fellowships are equivalent to becoming a full professor and are awarded to people who have made a significant contribution in their professional life.

Ms Grattan is a former editor of The Canberra Times, author of several books and has also reported for the Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald.

She was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2004 for her contribution to journalism in Australia.

Jenna Price, lecturer in journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney, said Ms Grattan would make a great contribution to teaching the next generation of journalists.

“I think not only the students but also her new colleagues at the University of Canberra are fortunate in getting an academic and practitioner with real wisdom and experience,” said Ms Price, who worked under Ms Grattan at The Canberra Times.

“She not only brings recent experience but 40 years of focus and energy, unparallelled in Australian political reporting.”

Additional reporting by Bella Counihan.

Join the conversation

42 Comments sorted by

  1. Marilyn Shepherd


    What tosh, it's time Michelle took a long holiday. Her last 2 years have been beyond woeful, her continual claims that Slipper was such a sleaze he had to stand down and so did Gillard turned to dust without a single apology from Michelle or anyone else to Slipper.

    The continued claims that Thomson is so irredeemably awful and sick and demented because shock horror he might have used his legally issued credit card for work purposes ( he could not have been in the brothels at the times stated…

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    1. Dave McRae

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      I totally agree with Marilyn Shepherd. 2 years of leadership and personalities speculation - getting it wrong too.

      Not once in that time was there policy details.

      This is lazy journalism that has poisoned the well for future journos. I used to have a >$50pw habit of buying newspapers. That started decreasing 6 years ago and the last was an AFR 9 months ago when they were the last to lose the ability to differentiate between a carbon tax and an ETS and accurately report on various policies…

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    2. Riddley Walker


      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      I quite agree, except I would say Grattan has written nothing decent in the last ten years. She has never missed an opportunity sink the boot in Gillard, and given Abbott a totally free ride. Failure to investigate the Rares ruling on James Ashby was disgraceful.

      Grattan has become lazy and slow. i hope for the students' sakes she picks up her game.

    3. Colleen van der Horst

      logged in via email

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Although readers may not have agreed with Michelle Grattan's political analysis over her recent years with 'The Age' she is nevertheless a perceptive, accomplished political commentator and as such her voice should be welcomed by followers of the conversation. Her observation about the singularity of opinion in the mainstream media is a valid one. Let's hope that she will add to and enrich the diversity of analysis readers like me hope to enjoy by reading the conversation as an alternative to the mainstream media.

    4. Misha Ketchell

      Managing Editor at The Conversation

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Marilyn this is an unkind and unfair dismissal of someone's life work. Michelle Grattan is respected within the journalism profession for a reason. She has always been extraordinarily rigorous, perceptive, thoughtful and diligent. She epitomises many of the best qualities journalists should aspire to.

      That's not to say her reportage always has been perfect, or to deny that some of her calls have been questionable. You don't have a 40 year public career without doing some things that some people might justifiably criticise. But I believe that Michelle's deep knowledge of politics in Australia, in combination with the work of our academic authors, will provide rich and rigorous political coverage. I guess time will tell on that score, but it's a bit premature to write her off.

    5. Dave McRae

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Misha Ketchell

      Seriously Misha?

      For 2 years we've had Crean 4 PM 11, Rudd 4 PM 11 and 12, Slipper wrong, Carr wrong, Abbott in lodge 11, got the Misogyny speech context rot all wrong. She's called upon the PM to 'fall on her sword' during the 'shambles" - she loves asserting that word - never any evidence for but 449 bills in this parliament says she is partisan for using it.

      I have had a look a few selections and I cannot find one bit she has gotten right. I may have missed a few, probably have, but my hit rate for rubbish has her as a partisan pundit. I suspect she hates PM Gillard - sooky for not being pandered too and fed scoops? Has to make up stuff instead.

      If anyone could link to an article of hers in last 2 years that a) did look something up correctly and b) got a political punt nearly right, I'd be delighted

    6. Dave McRae

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Dave McRae

      Apologies if I sound grumpy - and I am.

      Normally I would not care, but I expected much more from Ms Grattan. I expect her to be beyond the likes of Mr A.Bolt, Mr P.Ackerman or Ms M.Devine

      I do wish her well, and hope she finds her spark again. And with her departure, someone else may rise to the occasion within our Press Gallery to ask and grill politicians to reveal information, policies and details that actually affect peoples lives.

      Someone who will tell us what we need to know .. would Darryl Kerrigan tell me, I'm dreaming?

    7. Peter Lang

      Retired geologist and engineer

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd


      What complete tosh. Fancy defending the disgusting people the Labor Party chooses, elects and then stands behind no matter what they do. What a ridiculous position to take.

      I am sure the mostly Labor supporters here will find some pedantic arguments to say they "didn't say that, and didn't support these people" or whatever. It's just more tosh. Of course they ares supporting the disgusting ethics and total lack of integrity of Labor party people and supporters from the top (PM) to the bottom.

    8. Jack Arnold


      In reply to Misha Ketchell

      Hi Misha, I respect your staunch defence of the management decision that is wrong.

      Longevity in the Canberra Press Gallery alone does not guarantee competence. For example, Alan Read was considered the best political reporter of his time, about 40 years spanning the Whitlam dismissal. Yet his sources missed the link between CIA interference with Kerr that resulted in the dismissal of a properly elected Australian government.

      Subscribers to The Conversation are generally well educated, intelligent…

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    9. Tony Grant


      In reply to Misha Ketchell

      No wonder this site is near void of must be joking; another store bought soul...Psychopathics Inc.

    10. Tony Grant


      In reply to Dave McRae

      It's a decent dream Dave, one we would all dearly enjoy, cheers!

    11. Ken Swanson


      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Don't worry Marilyn

      Michelle will fall victim to the left wing group think of the Conversation editorial staff in no time flat.

      Any criticism of the Greens or the ALP will be swiftly struck down by the young cadres in the newsroom.

      Watch this space.

    12. John Watters

      Retired at Aviation

      In reply to Misha Ketchell

      I used to think that Michelle Grattan was an objective and respected political journalist but her recent treatment of Craig Thomson, Peter Slipper and Julia Gillard leaves too much to be desired. She does not appear to have put in the necessary hard yards to get to the bottom of the Slipper/Brough/Pyne/Bishop/Abbott/Ashby/Doane conspiracy.

      Perhaps Michelle Grattan may be able to change her political reporting now that she will no longer have the Fairfax editorial control dictating her adherence to MSM values dictated primarily by the Murdoch Limited News.

      My hope is that she will pick up her game and encourage journalist students to do as I say (be objective) and not as I do in her role as Professorial Fellow at Canberra Uni.

    13. Jack Bloomfield

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Well said Marilyn Sheperd, I totally agree.
      The Canberra press gallery is a disgrace to independent journalism and Michelle Grattan has for too long been running with the mob of right wing populism who have lost sight of relentlessly seeking out truth.

      At Tony Abbot's recent address to the National Press Club, in the light of his repeated vow to "abolish the carbon tax" I was amazed and aghast that not one journalist present could think to ask him the obvious question:-
      "What is the coalition actually proposing to do to address climate change?"

      We need constructive and informed journalists/commentators who understand and respect scientific advice.

    14. Colin MacGillivray

      Architect, retired, Sarawak

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Here is an edit of the second paragraph above to clarify part of what you said
      "Thomson ... might have used his... credit card for... brothels ... and so what if he did."
      Union workers paid his credit card bill. Can you really condone this?

    15. Evatt Kyriacou

      expat teacher

      In reply to Misha Ketchell

      Sorry to disagree so vehemently but as who sources news and opinion from a variety of places,I would rate Michelle Grattan as one of the least rigorous of political commentators.My own belief is that over the years she is one of those journalists who has come to stand out for her mediocrity and bias.

  2. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    Sorry Misha

    bit I too think that MG became too partisan in most of her articles over the past few years.

    Mind you the Age itself seems to be a shadow of the paper it once was.

  3. Peter Lang

    Retired geologist and engineer

    When is the Conversation going to attempt to get some balance into its editorial staff by appointing a reasonable balance of editors what are no of far Left political persuasion. Michelle Grattan has always been of far left political persuasion as are all the other editors at the Conversation, or so it seems.

    Michelle is good, bu the Conversation definitely needs to balance up with good editors who represent the broad spectrum. That is certainly not the case now.

    1. Mike Hansen


      In reply to Peter Lang

      "Michelle Grattan has always been of far left political persuasion..."

      Good on you Peter.

      You and your tinfoil hat are always a constant source of amusement and entertainment.

  4. Jack Arnold


    Thank you Marilyn for exposing the tosh of this proposal, and to the presently 7/8 respondents who agree.

    Grattan has been anything but an objective reporter of Australian politics during the Gillard years. Indeed, I am surprised that she has not been required to declare her card carrying membership of the Liberal Party with every written or radio comment.

    Grattan is a practiced exponent of 'yellow journalism', debasing every achievement of one of the most efficient governments in Australian…

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    1. Paul Pfluger


      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Strongly agree Jack, Gratton is a partisan hack. Her political 'analysis' is usually lazy rubbish.

  5. John Newton

    Author Journalist

    Hurrah! I don't have to read her - the dullest political commentator of all, I could sense Fran Kelly's relief when she managed to get Bongiorno on to replace her. She has no opinions, merely regurgitates the known facts.

  6. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Whilst Im sure her experience will be of value and im sure she will be competent in her role - I have to say I do find most of her writings out of touch with reality and all these people calling her Far Left, really have no idea

  7. wilma western

    logged in via email

    As an Age addict over the last 50 something years, I have been disappointed and at times enraged by recent comment by M Grattan ( including her comment on S. Crean when he was Opposition leader ). On the extremely rare occasion she had something faintly approving to say about the Gillard government it was usually followed by a two-hander e.g. If the polls improve , X will be seen as a good move : if the polls go down,X will be added to the list of govt mistakes. Profound, really. I hope her contribution to The Conversation is heaps better.

  8. Riddley Walker


    First, Rudd now hates Gillard with a passion.

    Second, many in Labor harbour a deep distrust of him because of the 2010 campaign leaks.

    Third, Rudd is still trying to find the numbers to knock off Gillard.

    Read more:

    One final slash at the ALP before leaving eh, Michelle? Listen, just go already - we've all had just about enough of your tripe.

  9. Patricia Hamilton


    As a faithful ABC RN listener (and The Conversation reader) I have been moved to switch stations during Fran Kelly's segments with MG for all the reasons outlined above. I am disappointed with The Conversation's decision to give this type of journalism a 'voice'.

  10. Stewart Scott-Irving

    Education Consultant

    I have a deep respect for Michelle... I have very little for either Julia or Tony and their respective ALP or Coalition Parties. In the forthcoming 2013 Federal election, a truly unique opportunity is about to arise. It is possible that the Australian voter will be offered a 3rd alternative to our current "2-party-by-default-preferential system." They will have candidates offered nationally, who are independent but supporters of a common electoral process platform. That platform will offer each electorate…

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  11. Evatt Kyriacou

    expat teacher

    Looking at the comments,I see that I am not the only one that is underwhelmed at the thought of Michelle Grattan joining 'conversation'.My own disappointment at her joining is based on the belief that she epitomises the type of journalist that has made The Age a shadow of the paper it once was.

    This being so,I will be taking myself off the the conversation mailing list so that I don't have to watch this online journal go the same way.

  12. Sally Boteler

    customer service officer at health & leisure

    Misha, you are right about Marilyn - her comments were unkind, but that's the way she rolls.
    However, Marilyn is also right about Slipper and Thomson, and right to criticise Grattan, along with all 'mainstream' journalists who have failed to do real investigative work into the confected, politically motivated cases against these two men. There looks to be pretty solid evidence that the reality of their situations is very different from what has been projected by the media narrative, and it is highly…

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  13. Meagan Kae

    Principal, Founder at White Rabbit Studios

    Firstly I want to wish Grattan every success in her new role at The Conversation and her University position.
    I think it's going to be quite the eyeopener being surrounded with young, eager to learn, opinionated students with a different view on the world due to social media and technology.
    I also think that Grattan will enjoy the immediacy of response that The Conversation allows through its post first/moderated afterwards comment system.
    Whatever the leaning of Grattan's political view point it will be welcomed because we all get to express our opinions as well.
    Any intelligent discourse over the next several months as we head towards an election is a good thing and I personally am looking forward to the opportunity to read Grattan without 'The Age' overhead and without a paywall.

  14. Pat Moore


    Ouch! A big baptism by fire welcome for MG!

    The piranahs are obviously rabid for some truth. They're sick of being fed with empty weaselwords. With fabricated MSM spin?

    The mushrooms are turning toxic in the compost. They're positively revolting!

    Maybe MG will be like a phoenix rising from the ashes of The Age in joining in The Conversation?

    Don't think these piranahas & mushrooms will tolerate much spinning empty b..s.. here?

  15. Kevin Bain


    O dear, I can feel a change of direction for The Conversation coming on.

    In the tired and magisterial lingo of the mainstream media, Mr Jaspan says MG will be the Associate Editor (Politics) and Chief Political Correspondent with an "evidence-based approach to political reporting." Is this a a cursory nod to academia? Or a tilt at The Australian. ie. a proxy war for the "soul" of professional journalism? As well as a Chronicler at the Gillard Court shall we soon be blessed with Editorials too…

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    1. Jack Arnold


      In reply to Kevin Bain

      Thank you Kevin for so eloquently expressing my feelings.

      I find it quirky that today we are invited to become a Friend of The Conversation by making a personal donation or regular subscription ... just like the 'old media' firewall operated by News Ltd.

      The University of Canberra, founded with some of the brightest minds, is now gaining a reputation for "unusual" appointments as sinecures before pension entitlements. This is a model that The Conversation might avoid to its credit.

  16. Peter W Anson

    Proffessional Musician

    I joined the Conversation to get away from the likes of Grattan. Looks like I'll be going elsewhere for political reporting.

  17. Paul Frost

    Program Officer at SA Government

    Grattan....really? I though this may be a repository for some quality writings but seeing you have hired her, and the fact that the Shepherd woman comments shows otherwise... bye

    1. Kevin Bain


      In reply to Paul Frost

      I think it would be a mistake to read the sharp comments above as being a visceral attack on Ms Grattan by a bunch of partisan whingers.

      The tone of your article is very self-referential: lots of mutual admiration exchanged within the inner circles, but precious little communication to readers about what she will do other than "pursue political journalism" by "writing sensibly" (whatever that means.) If she's just switching her output from the Age to the Conversation, it's unclear how this enhances…

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  18. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington


    Michelle, Congratulations on you ability to now write for "The Conversation."

    A few weeks ago I asked Ian Harper from University of Melbourne about editorial conditions and he replied
    "The only qualification for writing for "The Conversation" is an affiliation with one or more of the participating universities. At least, that's how I qualify. If I were not emeritus of the University of Melbourne, they would not publish my work. The intention, as I understand it, is an attempt to steer clear…

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