A brief history of Australian literary journalism

Willa McDonald, Jennifer Martin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter traces the uneven trajectory of literary journalism in Australia, from the colonial period, to the status it enjoys today online. We consider the role played by technology, the commercialization and professionalisation of journalism and the economic and political climate in the shifting fortunes of the narrative story-telling form. We align the decline of literary journalism in Australia in the first half of the twentieth century with the introduction of new technologies and the sublimation of subjectivity as a journalistic norm, as well as an economy that struggled through two world wars and the Great Depression. It is not until the affluence of the late 1950s that literary journalism once more took hold, blossoming in the counter-culture of the 1960s and the anti-authoritarianism of the 1970s. The 1980s and 1990s ushered in an expansion of newspaper supplements and features as proprietors rode high on the advertising “rivers of gold”. When the internet decimated the legacy media’s business model, Australian writers of literary journalism found a new audience online, through innovative layouts of traditional print stories, on aggregation sites and by publishing their stories as audio books and morphing them into podcasts
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge companion to world literary journalism
EditorsJohn Bak, Bill Reynolds
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Publication statusSubmitted - 19 Oct 2020


  • Literary journalism
  • Australian Journalism History of Australian literary journalism
  • colonial journalism
  • feature writing


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