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Michael Gawenda is an Australian journalist and was editor of The Age from 1997 to 2004.

Life as a refugee

Gawenda was born in a refugee camp in Austriamarker just after the end of the Second World War. His family moved to Melbournemarker, Australia in 1949. Gawenda attended a state school. He studied economics and politics at a university.


He started his career in 1970, joining The Age as a cadet journalist. In 1997 he became an editor and in 2003 the editor-in-chief. During this time he became the subject of controversy when he rejected a Michael Leunig cartoon which expressed the view that peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could only be achieved through military means with the Nazi slogan on the gates of Auschwitzmarker, "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes you free). He said "I think it’s just inappropriate. Anyone seeing that cartoon would think it inappropriate."

In 2004, The Age endorsed the Liberal Party in the 2004 federal election. The website Crikey claimed he had caved to pressure from The Age's owners, Fairfax Media. In an interview with Jon Faine on 774 ABC Melbourne, Gawenda defended his editorial stance and said the allegation from Crikey was a lie.

Personal life

Gawenda has two children, Evie (1975-) and Chaskiel (1980-). Gawenda is the uncle of television producer and former senior soccer player Harvey Silver.


American Notebook

On April 15, 2004, Gawenda announced that he would return to reporting as The Age's Washingtonmarker correspondent.

Gawenda's final article from Washington was published on May 28, 2007 when he announced he will be returning to Australia and would no longer be writing for The Age. This led to the publication in August 2007 of a book, American Notebook, sub-titled A Personal and Political Journey, about American politics and rationalising his support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Rocky and Gawenda

Following his retirement from professional journalism, Gawenda felt moved to blog about his escape from the stresses and frustration of journalism. His postings to the Crikey website from February to November 2009 were collected in a volume titled Rocky & Gawenda. The book is composed of short stories and recollections, mostly reflecting on aspects of his own life: family, especially his two children; blogging; the pleasure he finds in food; friends and funerals.

Rocky & Gawenda has been reviewed several times in The Age. The most recent review, by Alan Attwood, editor of the Australian edition of The Big Issue, was the most sympathetic. Attwood writes that many of the stories from Gawenda's past, the ideas he inherited growing up in a displaced Jewish family in Melbourne,


Year Awards Category
1982 Walkley Award Best Feature - "Ghettos in the Sky"
1988 Walkley Award Best Feature - "Echoes of a Darker Age: Australia's Nazi War Crime Trials"


  1. ABC Online, The Media Report transcript, October 23, 1997 (retrieved May 2, 2006)
  2. Media Watch, Lost Leunig, May 6, 2002 (retrieved May 2m 2006)
  3., Gawenda responds to Crikey, October 12, 2004 (retrieved May 2, 2006)
  5. Press release (PDF) (retrieved on May 2 2006)


External links

Rocky & Gawenda — Gawenda's blog on the Crikey website

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