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Addressing the nation : in search of Adrian Deamer
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Denis Cryle
The news of Adrian Deamer's death from cancer in January 2000 drew an overwhelming response from Australian journalists, most of whom, as senior professionals and former colleagues, were quick to acknowledge his example and influence on their own careers. Harry Gordon, a 'sparring partner' of Deamer's, considered him 'one of the most forceful, colourful and memorable newspapermen of his time'.2 Tim Dare, writing to the Australian, which Deamer had edited, contended that 'no editor had more impact on quality journalism' in post-war Australia.3 Mungo MacCallum labelled him 'simply the best' in company as talented as Graham Perkin of the Age and John Pringle of the Sydney Morning Herald? Journalists like Gordon and MacCallum are, of course, worthy of attention in their own right, yet Deamer's editorial contribution remains distinctive in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At this time, the Australian newspaper was far from established as a national daily, and daily broadsheet journalism remained, in the main, stodgy and conventional in tone and format. This article examines the editorial contribution made to the Australian newspaper and national journalism by Adrian Deamer during the period 1966-1971. More specifically, it integrates the 'Deamer legend' in the context of his recent death and the tributes paid to him throughout the Australian print media. Components of this legend include his bohemianism, mentoring role with junior colleagues, moral courage as a critic of the pringbok Tour and willingness to exercise his editorial independence from his proprietor Rupert Murdoch until the time of his sacking in July 1971. Along with the obituaries and published reminiscences of ntemporaries and colleagues, oral investigation reveals a rich untapped vein of material embedded within journalistic culture, which, in Deamer's case, has survived his career at the Australian for a generation. Finally, a comparison will be made between his notable career and that of his distinguished father, Syd Deamer, himself a legendary figure and a president of the Australian Journalists Association (AJA).