The Subject of Biography

As Jacqueline Kent’s literary agent, I write with regard to Christine Wallace’s review of Kent’s book The Making of Julia Gillard (‘The Other Biography’, October). Knowingly commissioning a review by someone with a conflict of interest (even though declared) and a potential benefit in undermining the credibility, and hence sales, of the book she is writing about is an appalling breach of journalistic ethics – as was the acceptance of that commission.

Compounding the breach was the treatment of the review as a cover story with the sensationalist “Biography Wars” strap-line, thereby sending the Monthly into “Headless Body Found in Topless Bar” tabloid territory. Adding insult to injury has been the magazine’s subsequent invitation (declined, of course) to Jacquie to write a tit-for-tat review of Wallace’s own biography of Gillard when it is published next year. One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This entire episode has been a grave disservice to Jacqueline Kent, to well established ethics of journalistic practice, and, equally important, to the Monthly’s readers.

Mary Cunnane
Bermagui, NSW