Preferring ‘dirty’ to ‘literary’ journalism: in Australia, Margaret Simons challenges the jargon while producing the texts

International Association of Literary Journalism Studies
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Literary Journalism Studies, 2015, 7 (1), pp. 101 - 117
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Australian literary journalism has neither a discrete nor recognisable community of authors as compared to the United States and the United Kingdom. In Australia, writers in the field do not label themselves as such and indeed, most are surprised when it is suggested their work falls within the parameters of Northern Hemisphere specificities for the genre. Commensurate with contemporary international examination, more than thirteen years ago in Australia, preliminary debate was initiated about the term ‘creative non-fiction’ in an attempt to identify an Australian canon. In more recent years, two other terms – book length or long form journalism – have been offered. But, similar to the rest of the global polemic, none ever seem to settle. The determination to find a label has its genesis within the academy and mostly, only those writers who work within the academy or have worked within the academy are really privy to the debates. Australian academic, award-winning journalist and author, and social commentator Margaret Simons prefers to speak of a ‘disinterested’ and ‘dirty’ journalism rather than using the term ‘literary’. Ironically, she is one of Australia’s leading literary journalists. This paper is based on an interview with Simons which interrogated her own extensive literary journalism as a sub-genre within the overarching frame of creative non-fiction and an analysis of one of her award winning texts. As both an academic and a journalist, her perspective is multi layered.
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