By Sally Rawsthorne
Bullshit was very much on the menu at yesterday’s Walkley Foundation lunch for editors and producers at Surry Hills’ Bishop Sessa, with Walkley Advisory board chair and Sydney Morning Herald investigative journalist Kate McClymont opening her short address with “Today, I want to talk to you about bullshit!”
Citing Jon Stewart‘s recent farewell speech, McClymont told editors and producers from Fairfax, News Corp, BuzzFeed, Bauer, The Guardian, Seven, the ABC and more that exposing the truth was a vital responsibility of journalists everywhere. “Bullshit is everywhere. There is very little that you will encounter in life that has not been in some way infused with bullshit. There’s the more pernicious bullshit – your premeditated, institutional bullshit designed to obscure and distract. Or whenever something is titled Freedom! Fairness! Family! Health! America! Take a long sniff. Changes are, it’s been manufactured in a facility that may contain traces of bullshit. And Stewart concluded with this. “The best defence against bullshit is vigilance. If you smell something, say something.”
Despite the digital revolution, McClymont reminded the crowd – which included Walkley winners Rob Raschke, Paul Bailey and Andrew Maine – that the Walkleys remain crucial in rewarding the very best in journalism. “Our industry is changing at an astonishing pace, and as journalists we have to keep up with whatever method of delivery our stories can cope with. Despite these monumental challenges, the importance of The Walkleys remains unchanged.”
Following an incredible year in news, she said a Walkley would be hard won this year. “It’s a nightmare for anyone judging! We’ve got the Sydney Siege, the execution of Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, we’ve got Campbell Newman’s incredible defeat, we’ve got Abbott facing the leadership spill, we’ve got the same-sex marriage today, we’ve got the live baiting in greyhound races,the murder of Stephanie Scott, the Gallipoli centenary, the death of Philip Hughes and a whole lot more.”
Guests included chairman of The Walkley advisory board Quentin Dempster, Women‘s Agenda‘s Georgia Dent, Mashable’s Jenni Ryall, The Guardian’s Emily Wilson, Bauer’s Susan Skelly, BuzzFeed’s Simon Crerar, Junkee’s Steph Harmon, ABC’s Steven Turner, Fairfax’s Stuart Washington and News Corp’s Rhett Watson.