JOHN CARMODY. Who is Joan Sullivan?

Does the Fairfax slogan, “Independent.  Always”, really mean independent of truth, reliability and knowledge?  Or should my humble response to the extraordinary headline and story in the Sun-Herald of 31 December have been an admission that, even after an operatic obsession of more than 50 years, there might have been a great Australian singer whom I’d never heard of: “New Joan Sullivan theatre to hit high note”.  Worse still, the story that followed then wrongly mentioned that legendary name twice.  Talk about rubbing salt into wounds (not to mention the cliché of the headline, even if it were correct).

No, the truth is probably even more prosaic and dispiriting.  I’d suggest that the tyro reporter had never seen the name “Joan Sutherland” written before she wrote it herself.  But how could that be?  Doesn’t every Australian know about – and can spell? – such names as “Don Bradman”, Ned Kelly” and Phar Lap”: even Joan Sutherland?  Aren’t they part of Peter Dutton’s  “Australian authenticity” test?  And how could the headline writer have idly copied that reporter’s error and ignorance?  Do sub-editors no longer exist at the paper?  Or are they all located in Outer Mongolia?  And did nobody even look at the finished page before it was sent for printing?

Let us mourn the passing of “papers of record”.  What is “independence” worth if it is not reliable?  It was a truly sour note.  Poor fella my country!

Dr John Carmody FRSN, Discipline of Physiology and Centre for Medical Humanities, University of Sydney.  Founding Convenor: “Medicine and Music”: Master of Medical Humanities program.  President: Australian Catholic Historical Society.

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7 Responses to JOHN CARMODY. Who is Joan Sullivan?

  1. John Carmody says:

    I’m truly touched by these responses. Thank you all very much.

    I only wish that I had been wittier (I was simply angry — for several inter-related reasons); as witty as the contributor to “Column 8” who later wrote to say how much he was looking forward to attending the eponymous theatre for a performance of an operetta by Gilbert and Sutherland.

    Then, perhaps to show just how many linguistic tricks that the paper still has up its voluminous sleeves, the “Herald” editors ran a trivial piece — on the soi-disant Opinon page, no less — by a British “journalist” who had paid a company to perform DNA testing on her “Bitzer” dog to learn its “providence”. Maybe she was simply dyslexic and thought that the dog was Divine?

    John Carmody

    John C.

  2. Rosemary O'Grady says:

    Astonished as I am to be writing in support of Dr Carmody – I thank him from the bottom of my heart for this eloquent, succinct article.
    It has taken me some years to confront Fairfax with errors they have published and, even when they have received detailed papers from me registering errors (actually, lies and false reports) and supplying corrections (actually the facts and truthful replacement material) there have been no corrections, no acknowledgements of error let alone, Heaven Forbid, apology (for damage done which, of course, being evident, might lead to litigation).
    The great masthead(s) – to which I was once deliriously happy/proud to contribute, are not even, now, a shadow of their former selves – they are icons of irresponsible trash, occasionally-relieved by some ‘investigative reporting’ but on the whole- irredeemable. I almost weep as I write this. I take my hat off to John Carmody for having made the point so deftly.

  3. Kevin Bain says:

    Could it be a case of acrylogia?

    Fairfax’s attention-seeking trick to separate independent and always by a full stop makes their claims sound less convincing. The black arts of advertising psychology are too entrenched now in newspapers, perhaps moreso in the headlines. A public funding model must be promoted to reduce the dumbing down pressures of clickbait and commercialism.

  4. Please explain: What’s ‘opera’, ‘sub-editor’ and ‘tyro’?

  5. David Butler says:

    you’re forgetting – this is STRAYA! who cares if you get one of our greatest artists’ name wrong? It’s not like she’s anyone important… like a cricketer… a footballer… a reality television star…

  6. Jim KABLE says:

    The Sydney Mourning Herald!

  7. Max Bourke AM says:

    Love it Jack with you 100%

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