Book Review: Adrian Tame’s The Awful Truth celebrates journalism, larrikinism and fanaticism

The Awful Truth

Adrian Tame certainly understands the adage, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” The English-Australian journalist has notched up over five decades in the business working in Australia, the US and the UK. In his fourth book, The Awful Truth: My Adventures with Australia’s Most Notorious Tabloid he gives us a colourful look at his thirteen years working for the now defunct, tabloid newspaper Truth as a journalist and news editor.

One thing that is apparent from Tame’s book is his excellent storytelling ability. The man has some great anecdotes, including the first meeting he had with (his then new boss) editor, Paul Edwards shortly after immigrating to Australia. There were a group of four of them in Edwards’ office arm-wrestling. They were sans shirts and were wearing pig masks. Talk about a baptism of fire; and that’s before he even gets to the stories involving a young Rupert Murdoch.

This book looks back at some heady years in tabloid journalism. The seventies and eighties were a time of liquid lunches, copious swearing and creating general outrage; and Tame makes you wish you were there. The paper was condemned by many and slammed for being a “wretched little one” that was full of filth. It courted its fair share of controversy – often printing salacious gossip about tawdry affairs. But, it also had its sights on exposing frauds and cheats, and flying the flag for Aussie battlers.

The paper also broke some interesting and important exclusives. These included stories about Agent Orange; Russian spy, Vladmir Petrov; and the Maralinga Nuclear tests. Tame certainly brings a certain charm and respectability to his profession, even when recounting stories about projectile vomiting and taking pot-shots at Marlon Brando.

Tame is now a little disillusioned with the craft and blames low circulation rates on the fact that journalists now tend to stay away from pubs. One thing’s for certain, the concept of fake news is not a new one and this book proves it was alive and well back in the day.

Anyone with an interest in the Australian news media will find this book a rollicking read. The Awful Truth is actually a story about a rather unassuming man who loved his wife and worked alongside some larger-than-life characters. Tame lives up to his namesake but his career was anything but that. He shows us his career was a wild rollercoaster of titillating shock, vice and humour. And, if that’s not an inducement to read this; I don’t know what is!

 The Awful Truth


Adrian Tame’s The Awful Truth is out now, from Simon & Schuster. Get yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.