Michelle Grattan

Michelle Grattan AO FASSA is an Australian journalist who was the first female editor of a metropolitan daily newspaper in Australia. She has written and edited for several major Australian newspapers, specializing in political writing. She is presently the top political journalist for Australia's largest independent news website, The Conversation.

Related Biography: Adam Walters

About Michelle Grattan

Grattan was the first female Canberra Bureau Chief for The Age in 1976 and the first female editor of a daily metropolitan newspaper in 1993, The Canberra Times. She has worked for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Financial Review. Grattan earned the admiration of politicians on both sides for what some rivals referred to as a "passion for precision," which saw her awakening cabinet ministers and backbenchers at odd hours to confirm a fact or quote. Her unwavering dedication transformed the Canberra gallery's work standards, and she encouraged a generation of female journalists to cover federal politics.

Background and Career

Grattan, born in Kew on June 30, 1944, and went to Ruyton Girls' School in the same Melbourne district, was a Monash University teacher until she opted to pursue journalism instead of academia. Her interest had been piqued by conversations with an uncle, Ron Younger, a journalist who worked for the Herald and Weekly Times group before joining the Information Department in Canberra. Although her job applications to The Age and The Australian were turned down, she was lucky to have two well-placed backers. In Grattan's first-year politics tutorial, Peter Cole Adams, a part-time university student who works as a leading writer for The Age, received a B plus on one of his pieces with a remark that said, "This would have been an A, but the approach is too journalistic." Former scholar and associate editor Creighton Burns had lectured her at Melbourne University, where she earned an Arts degree with honors in politics. They secured her an interview with the legendary Graham Perkin, which led to a job as a D grade reporter in 1970. She was in Canberra within a year, learning the ropes from renowned political writer Allan Barnes.

The Age newspaper hired Grattan in 1970, and he joined the Canberra Press Gallery in 1971. She was named Chief Political Correspondent for The Age in 1976, a post she held until 1993. Grattan was named Editor of The Canberra Times after leaving The Age in 1993, making her the first female editor of a metropolitan daily newspaper in Australia. She was fired after two years in this role and returned to The Age as the political editor.

Grattan began his career as a senior writer at The Australian Financial Review in 1996, and three years later, he was promoted to Chief Political Correspondent at The Sydney Morning Herald. In 2002, she returned to The Age as a columnist, and in 2004 she was promoted to Political Editor and Bureau Chief.

On February 4, 2013, she resigned from The Age to take up a professorial fellow at the University of Canberra to become The Conversation's Chief Political Correspondent.

Can Ministers Cope? Back on the Wool Track and Reformers are among the publications Grattan has co-authored, and he has edited collections such as Australian Prime Ministers and Reconciliation.


Grattan won the Graham Perkin Australian Journalist of the Year Award in 1988. She was named a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences in 2002. In 2004, Grattan was named an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her long and distinguished contribution to Australian journalism in the Australia Day Honours.

In 2006, she received the Walkley Award for Journalism Leadership. She teaches at the University of Queensland's School of Journalism and Communication as an Adjunct Professor. In 2017, the University of Sydney bestowed to Grattan the honorary title of Doctor of Letters.

Quick Facts
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Profession: Australian journalist
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Date of Birth: June 30, 1944 (age 74 years), Kew Vic, Australia
Nationality: Australian
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Birth Place: June 30, 1944 (age 74 years)
Education: University of Melbourne, Ruyton Girls' School
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Last Modified: Feb 19 2023
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