Matthew Ricketson

From making front page to landing between covers: An ethical inquiry into contemporary book-length journalism in Australia

Researching and writing journalism at book-length requires practitioners to consider afresh a range of issues if they are to produce a coherent text as distinct from a satisfactory newspaper or magazine article. This paper chooses aspects of two among many of these issues: dealing with sources, and choosing a narrative voice for the book. It discusses these issues by examining four works of book-length journalism recently published in Australia

Keywords: book-length journalism, narrative non-fiction, literary journalism, ethics, sources, narrative voice


  1. Buchanan, R. (2013) Stop press: The last days of newspapers, Brunswick, Scribe
  2. Chadwick, P. (2008) Sources and conflicts: Review of the adequacy of ABC editorial policies relating to source protection and to the reporting by journalists of events in which they are participants, ABC Director of Editorial Policies, July. Available online at, accessed on 23 September 2014
  3. Christians, C., Fackler, M. and Rotzoll, K. (1995) Media ethics: Cases and moral reasoning, London, Pearson, fourth edition
  4. Chubb, P. (1993) Labor's fight on the hill, The Age, 6 July, p. 11
  5. Chubb, P. (2014) Power failure: The inside story of climate politics under Rudd and Gillard, Collingwood, Black Inc
  6. Cleary, P. (2014) It's no big deal when journos write books, Media section, Australian, 8 September p. 22
  7. Hartsock, J. (2000) A history of American literary journalism: The emergence of a modern narrative form, Amherst, University of Massachusetts Press
  8. Keeble, R. L. and Tulloch, J. (eds) (2012) Global literary journalism: Exploring the journalistic imagination, New York, Peter Lang
  9. McKnight, D. (2012) Rupert Murdoch: An investigation of political power, Crows Nest, New South Wales, Allen & Unwin
  10. Nolan, S. (2013) Fairfax adrift: The view from Sydney, Inside Story, 30 August. Available online at, accessed on 8 October 2013
  11. Ricketson, M. (2004) The awkward truth: The perils of writing journalistic books, Overland, Vol. 176 pp 51-55
  12. Ricketson, M. (2009) Ethical issues in the practice of book-length journalism, PhD thesis, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  13. Ricketson, M. (2014) Telling true stories: Navigating the challenge of writing narrative non-fiction, Crows Nest, New South Wales, Allen & Unwin
  14. Ryan, C. (2013) Fairfax: The rise and fall, Carlton, The Miegunyah Press
  15. Sanders, K. (2003) Ethics & journalism, London, Sage
  16. Schultz, J. (1994) Not just another business: Journalists, citizens and the media, Liechhardt, Sydney, Pluto Press
  17. Shepard, A. C. (2007) Woodward and Bernstein: Life in the shadow of Watergate, New Jersey, John Wiley
  18. Sims, N. (2007) True stories: A century of American literary journalism, Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University Press
  19. Tanner, S., Richardson, N. and Kasinger, M. (2009) Feature writing: Telling the story, Melbourne, Oxford University Press
  20. Tiffen, R. (2014) Rupert Murdoch: A reassessment, Sydney, NewSouth Publishing
  21. Walkley Foundation (2013) Award winners: Pamela Williams. Available online at, accessed on 23 September 2014
  22. Walsh, K-A. (2013) The stalking of Julia Gillard, Crows Nest, Allen & Unwin
  23. Williams, P. (2013) Killing Fairfax: Packer, Murdoch & the ultimate revenge, Sydney, HarperCollins
  24. Woodward, B and Bernstein, C. (1976) The final days, New York, Simon & Schuster
  25. Woodward, B. (2010) Obama's wars, New York, Simon & Schuster
  26. Wright, L. (2006) The looming tower: Al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11, New York, Penguin

Note on the contributor

Dr Matthew Ricketson is an academic and journalist. He was appointed Inaugural Professor of Journalism at the University of Canberra in 2009. Before that he was Media and Communications Editor for The Age. He is the author of a biography of Australian author Paul Jennings, of Writing feature stories and, most recently, Telling true stories. In 2011, he was appointed by the federal Labor government to assist Ray Finkelstein QC in an inquiry into the news media industry, which reported in 2012.