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Frank Haden – ecological impoverishment

  • December 3rd, 2006

Frank Haden (David Farrar)

With Frank Haden off his keyboard I fear extinction in this remnant of Gondwana of a species that was once the symbol of media freedom, and its justification. 

Warren Berryman’s funeral first set me worrying about losing this vital part of our intellectual ecology. Among the mourners were many journalists. None seemed likely to fill his shoes, though many had the requisite expertise. A number, foremost Jenni McManus who was there of course, had the qualities. But there is a flavour difference in Jenni and almost all of the other contenders.

As a select group they have technical proficiency, wide knowledge, courage, unpredictability, and zeal. Some retain the transcendant committment to the values of journalism as the profession there to tell the story, irrespective of personal views and costs.

But I will risk saying it. With Frank falling silent whose work will carry the distinctive flavour of testosterone bellicosity?

We need public tournaments. We need  the testing and learning that emerges for the rest of us from the struggles of those who value combat for its own sake. We need the civilised sheathing of swords that can be a feature of male jousting, as they enjoy the company of their adversaries afterwards. I venture that it is rare for women.

The crusaders for truth, our print jounalism defenders against political correctness, are now almost all women. Rosemary McLeod, Fran O’Sullivan, Deborah Coddington and a following generation of younger women are vital, but I think we lose something important when we do not have as well deeply experienced, cynical but impassioned old male campaigners.

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