Michael Gawenda

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Michael Gawenda, AM, is an Australian journalist and was editor of The Age from 1997 to 2004. He was appointed inaugural Director of the Centre for Advanced Journalism at the University of Melbourne, launched in 2009. The Centre's mission is to improve the practice of journalism through the creation of new partnerships – between journalists and media organisations and the University; and between journalists and the general community to stimulate public debate on important issues facing journalism. Upon Gawenda's appointment to The University of Melbourne, Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said, "Michael Gawenda is one of Australia's best known and most distinguished journalists. The University is fortunate to have him on board to oversee the development of this important project."[this quote needs a citation]

Life as a refugee[edit]

Gawenda was born in a refugee camp in Austria just after the end of World War II. His family moved to Melbourne, Australia, in 1949. Gawenda attended Caulfield North state school. He studied economics and politics at a university.[1]


He started his career in 1970, joining The Age as a cadet journalist. In 1997 he became an editor and in 2003 the editor-in-chief. Before that, was a senior editor with TIME. During 2002 he became the subject of controversy when, As Editor-in Chief, he rejected a Michael Leunig cartoon which juxtaposed an image of a Jew standing at the gates of Auschwitz with an image of a Jew with a gun standing at the border between Israel and Palestine. The two images were clearly ironic and Leunig subsequently claimed that Gawenda did not understand the point he was making. Gawenda said "I think it’s just inappropriate. Anyone seeing that cartoon would think it inappropriate."[2]

In 2004, The Age endorsed the Liberal Party in the 2004 federal election. The website Crikey claimed he had caved to pressure from The Age's owners, Fairfax Media.[3] In an interview with Jon Faine on 774 ABC Melbourne, Gawenda defended his editorial stance and said the allegation from Crikey was a lie.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Gawenda has a wife and two children, Evie (born 1975) and Chaskiel/Husky (born 1980),[5] and resides in Melbourne. Gawenda is the uncle of television producer and former sports writer and founding executive produce of The Footy Show, Harvey Silver.[6][7]


American Notebook[edit]

On 15 April 2004, Gawenda announced that he would return to reporting as The Age's Washington correspondent.[8]

Gawenda's final article from Washington was published on 28 May 2007 when he announced he will be returning to Australia and would no longer be writing for The Age. This led to the publication in August 2007 of a book, American Notebook, sub-titled A Personal and Political Journey, about American politics and rationalising his support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[9]

Rocky and Gawenda[edit]

Gawenda's canine companion inspired him to join the blog revolution to escape from the stresses and frustration of journalism.[10] The blog ran on the Crikey website from February to November 2009.[11][12] The posts from February to June were collected in a volume titled Rocky & Gawenda [1]. The book, published by Melbourne University Press, is composed of short essays, observations and recollections, mostly reflecting on aspects of his own life: family, especially his two children; dogs; blogging; the pleasure he finds in food; friends and funerals.


Year Awards Category
1982 Walkley Award Best Feature – Ghettos in the Sky
1988 Walkley Award Best Feature – Echoes of a Darker Age: Australia's Nazi War Crime Trials
1996 Walkley Award Best Feature – In Cold Blood


  1. ^ ABC Online, The Media Report transcript, 23 October 1997 (retrieved 2 May 2006)
  2. ^ Media Watch, Lost Leunig, 6 May 2002 (retrieved May 2m 2006)
  3. ^ "Uproar over The Age's election editorial". Crikey. 2004-10-07. Retrieved 2006-05-02. 
  4. ^ Crikey.com, Gawenda responds to Crikey, 12 October 2004 (retrieved 2 May 2006)
  5. ^ "Husky have scratched together an LP and joined the folk boom" by Bruce Elder, The Age (28 October 2011)
  6. ^ "Australia's many media dynasties", Crikey, 21 March 2005
  7. ^ About Us, Silver Spoon Productions
  8. ^ Press release (retrieved on 2 May 2006)
  9. ^ Altman, Dennis (2007-08-11). "All gone to look for America". The Age. p. A2 section, p. 22. Retrieved 2009-12-01. 
  10. ^ Attwood, Alan (2009-11-14). "A dog and his master's voice". The Age. p. A2 section, p. 27. 
  11. ^ "Introducing Crikey's latest blogger: Michael Gawenda (and Rocky)". Crikey. February 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2009-12-01. 
  12. ^ "Goodbye from Rocky and Gawenda... for now". Crikey. November 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-12-01. Retrieved 2009-12-01. 

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Bruce Guthrie
Editor of The Age
Succeeded by
Andrew Jaspan