Morn Cyprian Whitton1928 - 2018 (90 years)
Name Morn Cyprian Whitton Born 5 Mar 1928 Barret Street, Muswellbrook, NSW Australia Gender Male Died 16 Jul 2018 Person ID I19842 Whitton Last Modified 22 Jan 2019
Father Thomas Evan Whitton, b. 27 May 1891, Coonamble, Australia , d. 28 Jul 1966, Brisbane, Queensland buried Mount Gravatt (Age 75 years) Relationship natural Mother Bernice Margaret Collopy, b. 1885, Glen Innes, NSW , d. 17 Feb 1983, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia buried Mount Gravatt (Age 98 years) Relationship natural Married 16 May 1925 Church of Sacred Heart, Randwick, NSW Family ID F7611 Group Sheet | Family Chart
Family 1 Irene Patricia Wilks, b. Abt 1930, Sydney , d. 27 Feb 2006, Sydney NSW (Age ~ 76 years) Married 3 Jan 1953 Christ the King Church, Graceville Children 1. Living 2. Living 3. Living Last Modified 22 Jan 2019 Family ID F8074 Group Sheet | Family Chart
Family 2 Living Last Modified 22 Jan 2019 Family ID F8075 Group Sheet | Family Chart
- 1949 Deviney Street, Morningside a Teacher
1950 a Teacher Queensland, Education Department
1954 Downlands 72 Ruthven Street a School Teacher
1954 Toowoomba Rugby Union President
Senior English master and coach of the Rugby XV in til 1964
Evan Whitton is an Australian journalist, who currently is a columnist for the legal journal Justinian.
Evan was editor of the National Times from 1978 to 1981, Chief Reporter and European Correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald, Reader in Journalism at the University of Queensland, Journalist of the Year, five times winner of the Walkley Award for National Journalism and author of Can of Worms (1986), Amazing Scenes (1987), The Hillbilly Dictator (1989), Trial by Voodoo, The Cartel: Lawyers and their Nine Magic Tricks and Serial Liars: How Lawyers Get the Money and Get the Criminals Off.
Evan Whitton has been reporting on corruption for more than twenty years. Five times winner of the Walkley Award for National Journalism , in 1967, 1970, 1973, 1974 and 1975. He was named Journalist of the Year in 1983 for for his "courage and innovation" in reporting of the New South Wales Wran Royal Commission, and described the Queensland Fitzgerald enquiry as 'The biggest and most important story I ever worked on; the experience of a career.'
Evan Whitton received the Walkley Award for National Journalism five times and was Journalist of the Year 1983 for "courage and innovation" in reporting a corruption inquiry. He was editor of The National Times, Chief Reporter and European Correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and Reader in Journalism at the University of Queensland.
At primary school there was a guy called Noelie Bosel, who was thought to be a bit soft in the head but he wasn't really. He did me a big favour in - as far as can be determined - about 1936. According to Noela, a lot of the urchins at school were teasing Noelie one day and she saw me and my brother coming to Noelie's help and thought, "What nice boys the Whittons are."
I'd see her about the town. She had spectacular red hair. When we were teenagers, I asked her out and she listened sweetly to my babbling on the steps of her house afterwards. It was all very chaste.
When we were living in different places, I wrote letters to her over the years, but so much turns on chance. When the publican at Kingaroy suppressed those letters, she thought, "Oh well, he has lost interest." I often quote those 22 words from T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets about chance:
Footfalls echo in the memory.
Down the passage which we did not take.
Towards the door we never opened.
Into the rose garden.
When she rang me from a garage in Toowoomba that day and said, "I'm going to get married," I said, "Stay where you are." When I got there, she was gone.
By accident, we met many years later. When I saw her, something ignited again.
I was teaching then and the last thing I wanted was a scandal for the college. We had stayed in contact and decided to be together but it took a while. I got a job on the Toowoomba Chronicle, which I saw as stage one [of leaving the marriage]. Stage two was getting a job on the Melbourne Truth and moving to where Noela was.
A big step in those days? I'll say. My wife was a schoolteacher so she was okay, but it was an awful thing to do, really. But you know what it is. Love. The one chance.
If we had married when we first knew each other, I probably would have been a schoolteacher all my life, instead of becoming a mug reporter. I imagine we would have stayed [in Queensland] instead of zipping around the world.
Noela really is something. An absolutely nice person. At her 80th birthday party, I said she didn't invent motherhood or compassion but she could have. And she's as game as Ned Kelly. She's had a lot of operations and she's in terrible and constant pain, but she finds ways to put it out of her mind.
I've said to Noela, "If I had what you've got, I wouldn't draw a sober breath. I'd become a gin head or something." She's very brave and much too good for me, of course.
If Evan Whitton was writing his own obituary, he would start with a witty anecdote about his jowly appearance and social awkwardness, then comment on his penchant for formal attire, long-term habit of smoking roll-your-own cigarettes, penetrating, slightly bloodshot eyes; and, of course, his great love for journalism.
After a few paragraphs of description, telling facts, and the odd joke, a fine portrait of the man would emerge. It would result from employing a similar narrative device to the ones pioneered by the great English novelists of the 18th century like Tobias Smollett, Laurence Sterne and Henry Fielding, although it would be more economical in delivery.
That remarkable editorial technique was finally snuffed out on Monday when Evan Whitton died after a long illness at the age of 90. Winner of five Walkley awards, the Graham Perkin Journalist of the Year Award, and author of towering exposes of criminality, corruption, and Australia's tragic, willful involvement in the civil war in Vietnam, he was a man whose quality as a journalist, and moral force, were far greater than could be measured by public recognition alone.
According to the legendary V.J. (Vic) Carroll, a former editor-in-chief of the Financial Review, the (now defunct) National Times, and The Sydney Morning Herald, and himself not given to flowering hyperbole, Whitton was "the greatest ever" Australian journalist. His 55-year career covered provincial newspapers, a muck-raking tabloid, The National Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sun-Herald, The Australian, and ended with Justinian, the online legal newsletter.
As a mature age starter in newspapers, Whitton brought to the craft the reverence and passion of the late convert. Hard work, an eye for detail, forensic toughness, capacity to identify patterns in complex events, brilliance as a wordsmith, emotional resilience to thrive as a journalistic outsider, plus a great sense of moral outrage, made him the outstanding reporter of his time.
Trained as a teacher
Born in the NSW coal mining town of Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley and raised in the small south-east Queensland town of Murgon, Whitton attended Catholic boarding school as a young child, trained as a teacher, and taught high school English in south-east Queensland.
He was restless, however, and dropped his salary and social status to become a trainee journalist on the Towoomba Chronicle, then one of Australia's leading regional newspapers.
Whitton later transferred to Melbourne and a position on Truth, a weekly tabloid devoted to smut and scandal, and published by Rupert Murdoch. He thrived under the editorship of Fleet Street veteran Solly Chandler, writing "new journalism" style pieces on the disappearance into the surf of then Liberal Prime Minister Harold Holt in December, 1967, and a brilliant, courageous expose of the illegal abortion racket then operating with the help of corrupt members of the Victorian police force, that won him his first Walkley award.
Whitton moved to the (now defunct) Sunday Australian, another Murdoch publication, in 1971, but left not long after. He and his second wife, and childhood sweetheart, Noela, together worked on a remarkable expose of the political shenanigans surrounding the Rupert Max Stuart case, where an Aboriginal was wrongly convicted of murder and rape in South Australia and at one point sentenced to death.
Around the same time, Whitton wrote to V.J. Carroll, who was then editor-in-chief of the Financial Review and the nascent National Times, asking for job, and pointing out some similarities in their Queensland past. Carroll, who had an unerring eye for picking talent, took him on, and Whitton embarked on what was to become his richest editorial period under M.V. (Max) Suich, who had just been appointed as editor of the National Times, and Carroll.
The National Times was a weekly paper specialising in politics, social mores, and corruption. More than the rest of the mainstream Australian media, it was an outsiders' paper and Whitton soared, work-wise, in that milieu. There were memorable pieces about crime and corruption and some dazzling reportage on, for example, a day at the races at Royal Randwick, or the dressing room carryings on of the Australian cricket team. Most significant, however, was Whitton's three part, 25,000-word dissection of the disastrous decision-making and rhetorical casuistry that led to Australia's military involvement in the Vietnam War.
The brilliant expose almost resulted in the simultaneous firing of Whitton, Suich and Carroll by a furious Fairfax board. Max Suich recalled earlier this week that five years later, after he had been appointed the company's chief editorial executive, he was summoned to see Rupert (Rags) Henderson, a former chief executive at Fairfax and "still a major influence at the company".
Henderson said to Suich: "I don't like your friend Whitton. He's a communist."
"No, no, Mr Henderson," Suich replied, pointing out that Whitton had once voted for the vehemently anti-communist DLP.
"You may fool the Fairfaxes with that bullshit but you don't fool me," Henderson retorted.
There followed editorship of the National Times, and many years as chief reporter of The Sydney Morning Herald, and winning the Graham Perkin Journalist of the Year award for his brilliant, edgy coverage of the royal commission headed by the late Sir Laurence Street which inquired into corruption allegations surrounding the then NSW Chief Stipendiary Magistrate, Murray Farquhar.
Whitton is survived by his devoted wife, Noela, their seven children by previous marriages, and seven grandchildren. There will be no public funeral.
- 1949 Deviney Street, Morningside a Teacher