MARR, DAVID EWAN (1947– )
David Marr is one of Australia’s most accomplished and eloquent journalists. In a career spanning four decades, he has won Walkley Awards for both his investigative journalism and for his writing, was appointed editor of a national weekly newspaper at the age of 33, is equally at home in print, broadcast and online media, and is among a minority of journalists who have become recognised as public intellectuals. As a political progressive, Marr’s continuing preoccupation has been with the power of institutions—whether in politics, policing, law, religion or intelligence—to curtail freedom or harm individuals.
Marr graduated from the University of Sydney with degrees in arts and law, but has never practised as a lawyer. Instead, in 1972 he began work at the Bulletin before being appointed arts editor of John Fairfax & Sons’ weekly newspaper, the National Times, in 1976 and editor in 1980. He swiftly achieved notoriety for publishing David Hickie’s scathing indictment of Sir Robert Askin on the day of the former NSW premier’s funeral.
Marr had two stints at ABC Television’s Four Corners, in the mid-1980s and in the early 1990s, where he won two Walkley Awards: for an investigation into the deaths of Aborigines in custody and for a portrait of conductor Stuart Challender, who was dying of AIDS. In 1994, Marr became the first presenter of ABC Radio National’s Arts Today program; in 1996, he joined the Sydney Morning Herald as a senior writer, remaining there on and off until 2012.
Between 2002 and 2004, Marr presented ABC Television’s Media Watch, where he shared a Walkley Award for exposing David Flint’s role in the continuing ‘cash for comment’ scandal. He won a fourth Walkley Award for his 2010 Quarterly Essay, ‘Power Trip’, about Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Since leaving Fairfax Media, Marr has written for the Saturday Paper, the online publication the Guardian Australia, appeared regularly as a guest on ABC Television’s Insiders and written a fourth Quarterly Essay.
In addition to several works of book-length narrative journalism, most notably Dark Victory (2003), co-authored with Marian Wilkinson, Marr has written two biographies, one of former Australian Chief Justice Sir Garfield Barwick, the other of Nobel laureate Patrick White, which won five literary awards.
REF: S. Eisenhuth and W. McDonald, The Writer’s Reader (2007).