Journalist Michael Gordon has died. Picture: The Age
Journalist Michael Gordon has died. Picture: The Age

Legendary journalist Michael Gordon dies after swim

AWARD-winning Australian journalist Michael Gordon has died after suffering a heart attack while swimming at Victoria's Phillip Island.

The acclaimed political writer and author retired last June after 44 years in journalism, a career mostly spent at Fairfax Media newspapers.

He was The Age's political editor when he retired and was last year presented with the highly-coveted Walkley Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said Gordon, 62, was this morning taking part in a swimming event when he was found unconscious in the water at Cowes.

"He was pulled from the ocean and brought to shore shortly before 10.30am,'' she said.

"Despite the best efforts of emergency services to revive him, he died at the scene."

Police will prepare a report for the Coroner, the spokeswoman said.

The Walkley Foundation's citation for Gordon's award last year read: "The overwhelming impression Gordon left - with both his byline and his presence - was of decency, integrity, fairness and balance. Even when he was working at the epicentre of influence, he held himself outside the media pack. And his compassion shone through as he fought to give voice to the underdogs. He was the first Australian journalist to gain access to the detention centre on Nauru; he spent time in remote communities listening to our first peoples, and won a Walkley for his coverage of indigenous affairs in 2003."

Gordon's lengthy career took him overseas with a posting in New York and to News Corporation's The Australian newspaper as the political editor in the 1990s.

News of his retirement drew glowing tributes from the nation's leaders, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who described him as a "writer with an elegant pen and a big heart"

Retired journalist Michael Gordon could not be revived when he was pulled from the surf Victoria. Picture: Andrew Meares
Retired journalist Michael Gordon could not be revived when he was pulled from the surf Victoria. Picture: Andrew Meares

Mr Gordon, who won numerous awards throughout his career, including the two Walkleys, also published several books, including a biography of former Prime Minister Paul Keating.

He entered journalism when he was 17, following in the footsteps of his newspaper editor father Harry.

Ahead of his retirement, Mr Gordon said like his father, he was leaving daily journalism to pursue other passions, including surfing, perhaps his first love.

"The overwhelming emotion is one of immense gratitude to the paper that has been my home for 37 of my 44 years in journalist," he wrote for Fairfax Media in June last year.

"To the colleagues who gave wise counsel and have covered my back; and to the readers who shared in my adventures."

Only a week ago his byline emerged on Fairfax Media websites with an exclusive political story about Julia Gillard and Hillary Clinton joining forces.

Gordon is survived by his wife Robyn, their two children and one grandson, Harry.