Dr Nick Richardson

Margaret George Award 2005

Topic: An exploration of the relationship between Australian media owner Sir Keith Murdoch and the United Australia Party Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons
Dr Richardson presented his findings in a public lecture at the National Archives in Canberra on 5 May 2006.

Biographical note

Dr Nick Richardson is a Senior Lecturer in Print Media and Co-ordinator of the Graduate Diploma of Journalism at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Dr Richardson currently publishes a weekly opinion column for the Herald Sun and has worked for 20 years as a journalist for a range of Australia’s daily newspapers.

Outcome

Dr Nick Richardson used his Margaret George Award to explore the relationship between Australian media owner Sir Keith Murdoch and the United Australia Party Prime Minister (1932–39), Joseph Lyons. The National Archives collection provides rich insights into this relationship, particularly through the records of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the personal and official papers of Joseph Lyons. Dr Richardson’s historical research also shed light on the relationships formed between governments and the media, a fundamental concern of contemporary Australian life.

Dr Richardson presented a research paper at the National Archives in May 2006. You can access the paper from the link at the bottom of this page.

Stressing the value of the National Archives for journalists and in research about journalism, Dr Richardson has also published Broadcast News: Keith Murdoch and Aunty on The Fifth Estate, an online resource developed by the Journalism Program at RMIT. Intended for journalism students and media researchers, it is an extensive online archive of historical and issues-based journalism papers well as interviews with international journalists and academics.

Abstract

Private relationships conducted in the public domain are, inevitably, difficult for researchers to pin down. Certainty is elusive and memoirs partial. Working in such an environment, researchers are not dissimilar from gossips, trading in information that has a kind of truth – but what kind of truth?

In this paper, Dr Nick Richardson confronts a simple but challenging question: how much of the relationship between Prime Minister Joseph Lyons and Melbourne-based media proprietor Sir Keith Murdoch was real friendship? How much of it was the intersection between political power and media influence?

With no easy answer to hand, Dr Richardson uses records from the National Archives to explore some long-held perceptions about Lyons and Murdoch and to come closer to the truth about what really happened between these two influential and powerful men in the turbulent 1930s.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017