Interview: Peter Jonson -

I/V: Peter Jonson - Internet Publisher: - 27th May 2003

"I'd be happy to do an interview, but wouldn't you prefer to interview Henry himself"?

Who is Henry Thornton?

Henry Thornton is the nom de plume of a prominent economist. The site honours the memory of a famous dead economist, and caters for public figures who wish to write but not always under their own names. I am the founder and editor of

What's your background?

I am a professional director and economist. My first career was an an economist at the Reserve Bank - this career came to an end after I had the courage to confront Treasurer Paul Keating at "Banana Republic" time. We had a good stouse, he was wrong and I was right and he eventually followed my advice, but he never forgave me! My second career was as an executive in the private financial services business, where I ran two substantial Funds Management businesses. Now I sit on Boards with a wide variety of exciting businesses. Henry is the main public manifestation of my economic views, and those of a band of like-minded people. We generally have "Hard heads and warm hearts."

What are your aims and objectives?

My aim in a professional sense is never again to work with people I do not like. The aims of the contributors to the site are to have fun and present sensible views on economics and related subjects - which means a lot of areas, including politics and investments - to intelligent people who are often confused by the mainstream sources of news and opinion in this area.

What areas of news do you specialize in?

Economics is Henry's specialty, but politics, investment markets, finance,corporate and governance issues are all relevant from time to time. Certainly the site covers many of the issues that come up in my role as a Company Director. I am currently doing a lot of work at the intersection of science and commerce, so we follow issues in that space. We cover in a light-hearted way sport, movie reviews, food and wine and a bit of tourism. In December 2002 I filed copy from the railway station in Florance. Some of the material on sport get a lot of readers.

What is the advantage of online news media websites?

The main advantage is that such a site can develop a distinct approach which can sometimes provide insights not available in the mainstream. Some people like our summaries of mainstream views - saves then from all that reading. We say that we present the views of a "highly experienced, not to say cynical, team."

Describe freedom of the press in Australia?

Australia's press is very free by world standards, but (naturally) lacks the depth of the press in the USA and UK.

What are and have been your milestone?

1. The first site, developed by a relative, Fiona Prior.

2. The second site, developed by

3. The third site, with much improved functionality, again developed by

4. Reaching 20,000 hits one week early this year (the record is 28,000)

5. Earning the first income from the site early this year, sufficient to cover the cash outlays! Wow! Going forward - maintain standards, find interesting commercial opportunities, without being neurotic about the financial side.

What other professional and personal hobbies do you have?

I do not regard Henry as only a "hobby" - it keeps me up-to-date with my profession of economics and one day may make enough money to be interesting. Personally, all my spare time goes into the family - kid, sport, movies, holidays, the occasional meal at a kid-friendly restaurant.

What other news media websites and traditional news outlets do you deal with?, Online Opinion, your site. Pierpont's site has a lot good, sardonic corporate material. based in Silicon Valley was a ripper but the owner has stopped posting new material.

What are your main challenges in the media business?

Keeping readers interested in the content, providing specialised competition for the mainstream media services, eventually perhaps finding a lucrative niche that supplements a mainstream offering.

What media outlets and journalists do you respect?

There is a fair list of journos - Paul Kelly, Paddy McGuinness, Alan Wood, Alan Mitchell, Alan Kohler, Michelle Grattan, John Garnaut at the SMH is beginning to have some good material, many others from time to time. The ABC Insiders on Sunday morning beats the commercial stuff hands down by being distinctly non-pompous about it all. Australia's cartoonists are generally sensational - clearly world's best. I read The Economist and subscribe to the online version of major US and UK newspapers - but don't read them as often or as thoroughly as I would like to do.

What other important information would you like to share with our media savvy audience?

Visit, provide feedback if you feel moved to do so, consider becoming a contributor or Goldmember - or "Goldiewag" in my kids' description.


Editors note: Greg Tingle will become a regular contributor to


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