Sunday, June 13, 2004

Who says white space isn't journalistic?

The Australian press hit back at war-time censorship in April 1944. It was perhaps the most creative and journalistic use of white space our papers have ever employed:
Open defiance started at Sydney's Daily Telegraph, which began leaving spaces throughout stories to indicate that material had been removed by the censor. The battle escalated on April 16, 1944, when the Sunday Telegraph left the first two columns of its front page blank except for headshots of Rupert Henderson, the Fairfax general manager whose statement on censorship had been fully censored, and Arthur Calwell, Minister for Information, whose department issued censorship orders. The headshots were accompanied by a box (centred in the white space), which read: "A Free Press-? The great American Democrat Thomas Jefferson said: 'Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe'." Police were sent to the Telegraph printing dock to seize (at gunpoint) all copies that had not yet been distributed. Calwell's office then tried to ban the use of white space. But it was too late to stop the war against censorship. Other newspapers took up the cause with a vengeance the next day, devoting much of their front and inside space to the issue. That day, police impounded editions of the Sun and Daily Mirror in Sydney, the Herald in Melbourne and the News in Adelaide. The papers asked the High Court for an injunction against the Chief Censor on the grounds that he had no authority to kill the publication of lawful material, such as the Henderson statement. The court agreed and the government backed down.
Sources: A Company of Heralds, Gavin Souter, MUP, 1981, pp237-251; A Newspaper History of Australia, Nic van Oudtshoorn, Rigby, 1982, pp110-113.

The Daily Telegraph, April 17, 1944, published the censored cover of The Sunday Telegraph, together with several pages of scathing articles about the Chief Censor's "scandalous abuse of power".


At January 2, 2005 at 4:59 PM, Blogger NoRE said...

hi there..I'm from i was researching materials for my mass communication assignment..i found your blog..currently..I'm working on my assignment about historical perspective of journalism in germany..but then i couldn't find enough material since most of it are in germany language..after finding ur blog..I guess i'm changing to australia..i hope u can help me with certain information..i will contact u later..thanks =)


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