This article addresses the audience reception of sensationalist newspapers in interwar Australia through a case study of Sydney weekly Beckett's Budget. During a libel trial brought against Beckett's in 1928, readers came to its defence and their testimony reveals overlaps between reading and political allegiances: reading Beckett's equated with voting Labor. While histories of sensationalist media in Australia have rightly emphasised illicit sexuality and public outcry, connections between sensationalism and working-class political movements remain on the margins of academic interest. Responding to the question 'Do you read Beckett's?' readers' evidence at the trial constitutes an audience response and invites debate over the ways gender and class could inform political engagement in the 1920s. Viewing Beckett's Budget outside of 'brown paper' and beyond the sensationalist genre reveals a shift in Australian political culture as party strategists embraced a broader electorate, using Beckett's Budget to tap into the culture and concerns of interwar society.
Field of Research
210303 Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History) 210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified