Many masters: Excellent journalism prompted my search for a new collective noun

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Welcome to the end of the week, a place most of us have arrived at with a significant sleep debt thanks to a pandemic of Matildas mania.

A couple of late nights and nervous sleeps were a fair price to pay for the thrills they have brought us. Even their semi-final loss contained one of the most stunning moments of the tournament. I am talking, of course, about the long-range net-seeking missile from Sam Kerr that reminded everyone, for a few minutes at least, that our Tillies were still capable of making the World Cup final. Take a second to relive the moment with this photograph.

Sam Kerr’s goal in the Women’s World Cup semi-final.Credit: AP

I don’t intend to spend the entirety of this note talking about the Matildas, although I could happily do so. This conversation has surely followed you, like it has me, into the workplace, home, chat groups, schools, kindergartens and cafes. The way this team has unified and mobilised supporters from all corners of society is exceptional. Their efforts have been compared with Cathy Freeman’s gold medal in the 400 metres at the Sydney Olympics. It was a similarly inspiring effort from a home favourite at an event on home turf. Both moments were galvanising and inspiring in their own way and both captured the national attention, but I prefer not to compare them. This Matildas campaign has cast a spell on the country in a way that I haven’t seen in my lifetime.

And what a joy it has been to cover. We are blessed at The Age with some of the best sports journalists in the country. Greg Baum, Vince Rugari, Emma Kemp and Marnie Vinall in particular have helped elevate The Age’s World Cup coverage and armed people with the insights they need to be prepared for those conversations they’re having at every social gathering.

In case you needed any convincing that Greg Baum is a master of the sportswriting craft, have a read of this piece, which he filed within minutes of the Matildas’ semi-final loss to England.

Now, please bear with me while I somewhat awkwardly segue from one master of his craft to another.

In an earlier note, as you might remember, I wrote about the potential of a single image to alter the tone of a conversation and thrust an issue into the public consciousness.

We published one such image this week.

This photograph, taken by our own Eddie Jim, shows Lotomau Fiafia and his grandson John standing shoulder-deep in the rising waters of the Pacific, in the place where the shoreline used to be. In my view, it is one of the best examples of news photography in the country this year. Take a look…

Kioa island resident Lotomau Fiafia and his grandson John.Credit: Eddie Jim

Eddie is one of our most versatile photographers. He covers politics, sport and the natural world with awesome skill and is on something of a hot streak of form at present.

His photography helped bring to life a beautiful piece of writing by our environment reporter Miki Perkins on the urgent and existential fight against climate change being faced by our Pacific neighbours. It is an important piece of public interest journalism that should not be ignored by Australians. With photography and writing like that, and the kind of thorough original reporting you will only find at The Age, I don’t think it will be.

Now, finally, I must make a confession. Writing this note is not the ultimate highlight of my Friday afternoon. I know you must be shocked by that revelation, but let me explain why.

Once I send these words to our newsletter editor Jane Hutchinson, I turn my mind to checking the final edits of our most important pieces of public interest journalism. This is, in fact, the highlight of my week.

Friday afternoons are when some of our biggest news stories and most compelling reads are produced and this portion of my week is usually dedicated to editing much of the work you will read over the next few days. And what a privilege it is to scrutinise the work of the country’s best journalists. It is this time of the week I feel most grateful for their work and most proud of their contribution to our state and our country.

This afternoon I am most looking forward to reading a piece by Clay Lucas on Australia’s “ghost colleges”. Keep an eye out for it over the weekend. This reporting is the result of a months-long investigation into foreign student visas and the results are sure to surprise many. I’m also going to have a close look at a piece by our always-insightful chief political correspondent David Crowe on the new wave of young Labor members seeking supremacy at the party’s national conference, and what that means for the government.

I have overused the term “masters of their craft” already in this note, but can you blame me? I’m surrounded by them. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the collective noun for “masters” is “an example”. That’s a term I might need to use more often.

Patrick Elligett sends an exclusive newsletter to subscribers each week. Sign up to receive his Note from the Editor.

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