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Michelle Grattan joins University of Canberra and The Conversation

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.

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