Mark Colvin

Mark Colvin

Mark Colvin has been the presenter of ABC Radio’s long-running national daily current affairs program ‘PM’ since 1997.

For more than 35 years, he has covered national and international stories for the ABC. In 1980 he reported from Iran on the US hostage crisis and the violent struggles for power in the country in the wake of the Khomeini revolution.

As Europe correspondent he reported on the late stages of the Cold War, including the rise of Solidarity in Poland, and the ground-breaking talks between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. Later, he reported from Serbia and Bosnia for Foreign Correspondent, and made a series of films about crime, corruption and politics in ‘90s Italy.

In 1994, on a trip to Zaire and Rwanda to cover the Hutu-Tutsi massacres, Mark contracted a chronic and life-threatening disease which put him in hospital for many months and ultimately put an end to his in-the field reporting career. As presenter of PM, he keeps a close eye on national and international politics and uses his experience and historical knowledge to give some perspective to the stories of the day.

Articles by Mark Colvin

A journalist kicking it old school on Twitter

A journalist kicking it old school on Twitter

14 Apr 11 One steamy night in February 1974, I went with friends to hear the great blues guitarist B.B. King in concert…... Read more

How Berlusconi blew Italy’s chance to come clean

How Berlusconi blew Italy’s chance to come clean

17 Feb 11 They called it Tangentopoli. ‘Tangenti’ is one of the Italian words for ‘bribes’, and Tangentopoli summed up the idea that…... Read more

Danger in denial: Too soon to revel in Egypt’s revolution

Danger in denial: Too soon to revel in Egypt’s revolution

03 Feb 11 The ABC’s London bureau was effectively in mourning when I arrived as a correspondent at the beginning of 1980. Tony…... Read more

The Korean War never ended

The Korean War never ended

25 Nov 10 The Korean War stopped for practical purposes in 1953, but technically, it never ended. This is a matter of theory…... Read more

Waterboarding: ceding moral high ground to the enemy

Waterboarding: ceding moral high ground to the enemy

11 Nov 10 Tuol Sleng is a name, like Auschwitz or the Gulag, which should strike horror into the heart.  Tuol Sleng was…... Read more

How ASIO got it right during a time it got so much wrong

How ASIO got it right during a time it got so much wrong

28 Oct 10 I’ve written before about how, at the age of 25, I discovered that my father was a very senior member…... Read more

When quiet diplomacy equals silence on human rights

When quiet diplomacy equals silence on human rights

14 Oct 10 While you’re watching the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony tonight, take a moment to look at the VIP box. The first…... Read more

Taking the twit out of Twitter and finding value

Taking the twit out of Twitter and finding value

30 Sep 10 A challenge from a former Howard Government spin-doctor on Twitter this week set me to thinking, not for the first…... Read more

Dialysis sure beats dying, but a kidney would be better

Dialysis sure beats dying, but a kidney would be better

16 Sep 10 I’m writing this in the renal unit of the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney’s south. I’m typing with my…... Read more

We need to get over our poll addiction

We need to get over our poll addiction

02 Sep 10 Australia really needs to do something about its addiction to opinion polls. The week following the election, just like the…... Read more

Stop the world, I want to get off

Stop the world, I want to get off

12 Aug 10 The debate about whether Tony Abbott should or should not have been able to answer questions about peak internet speeds…... Read more

Freedom’s just another word

Freedom’s just another word

05 Aug 10 ‘Vox pops’ are among the staples of daily journalism. Little snippets of public opinion, they don’t prove anything about the…... Read more

Quality journalism exposes the counter-terror industry

Quality journalism exposes the counter-terror industry

21 Jul 10 The plummeting sales of newspapers worldwide have brought about an epidemic of soul-searching about the future of journalism: do people…... Read more

The internet is making us more adaptable, not dumber

The internet is making us more adaptable, not dumber

07 Jul 10 I’m looking at a series of pictures by the photographer Robbie Cooper, and they’re making me think about computers, the…... Read more

Disproving the porky that Shakespeare was Bacon

Disproving the porky that Shakespeare was Bacon

09 Jun 10 I probably know as much as anyone reading these words about the life of William Shakespeare. That’s not the boast…... Read more

Ostraya, a lucky winner of the linguistic lottery

Ostraya, a lucky winner of the linguistic lottery

26 May 10 The expulsion of an Israeli diplomat this week took me back more than a quarter of a century, to the…... Read more

Are we witnessing the strange death of Labour England

Are we witnessing the strange death of Labour England

28 Apr 10 I’ve never joined a political party: but a long time ago I did run as a political party candidate. For…... Read more

How a black cloud was lifted in an impoverished land

How a black cloud was lifted in an impoverished land

14 Apr 10 Let me tell you the story of Shane Dolan. I met him two decades ago, when I was in Ethiopia…... Read more

How Cameron and the good old boys could still lose

How Cameron and the good old boys could still lose

31 Mar 10 More than eighty years separate the publication of Evelyn Waugh’s first novel and the Tory campaign for government in the…... Read more

Baseless attacks on Bob Geldof threaten foreign aid

Baseless attacks on Bob Geldof threaten foreign aid

17 Mar 10 One of the more unedifying spectacles on the world stage in the last fortnight has been the verbal dogfight between…... Read more

The chance conversation that helped Thatcher win her war

The chance conversation that helped Thatcher win her war

03 Mar 10 History looks inevitable because we’ve lived it;  we think it happened that way because it had to happen that way.…... Read more

A democratic future for Iran? It’s too soon to tell

A democratic future for Iran? It’s too soon to tell

17 Feb 10 There’s a story, though it may be apocryphal, about Henry Kissinger and the Chinese leader Zhou EnLai. Kissinger was in…... Read more

Uncle Bruce, the former PM who made a life after politics

Uncle Bruce, the former PM who made a life after politics

09 Dec 09 Listening to ABC Local Radio a few weeks ago, I heard the former Minister John Brown saying John Howard should…... Read more

If it doesn’t affect national security it’s not a sex scandal

If it doesn’t affect national security it’s not a sex scandal

25 Nov 09 I owe my sex education to Christine Keeler. Not directly of course: I was eleven years old at the time…... Read more

Recalling communism through its black jokes

Recalling communism through its black jokes

11 Nov 09 I remember the jokes. They were usually about one of two things: hardship or fear. It’s been strange, this week,…... Read more

Iran, Twitter and the new media world

Iran, Twitter and the new media world

06 Nov 09 Note: The ABC’s Mark Colvin from the PM program gave this speech yesterday at the Media140 conference in Sydney. Since…... Read more

No guarantee that China is the next world superpower

No guarantee that China is the next world superpower

28 Oct 09 I was a nineteen-year-old student, not yet a journalist, when I travelled through China during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. I…... Read more

Hand on heart, you should watch your kidneys

Hand on heart, you should watch your kidneys

14 Oct 09 Put your hand on your heart. That was easy, wasn’t it? Now put your hand on your kidneys. ... Read more

Some key learnings about the debasement of language

Some key learnings about the debasement of language

30 Sep 09 I admit it:  I’m in danger of being a language bore. I’m that guy who, when you say you’re ‘honing…... Read more

Digging up the past: Colvin and the Spiders from Mars

Digging up the past: Colvin and the Spiders from Mars

16 Sep 09 Reading history books about your youth makes you feel old. The discovery that archaeologists have got to work on the…... Read more

If I lived in the United States I’d be dead, or dead broke

If I lived in the United States I’d be dead, or dead broke

02 Sep 09 Faced with the debate over President Obama’s project to overhaul American health care, I’m finding it difficult to maintain the…... Read more

70 years on, how Australia too was at war

70 years on, how Australia too was at war

19 Aug 09 An old newspaper can work like a telescope into the past, the details sharp but the whole picture a little…... Read more

The spy who loved me: how Dad came in from the cold

05 Aug 09 I was 25 when my father first told me he was a spy. It was 1977, and I was in…... Read more

Second Life? I’ve got enough on my plate with the first

22 Jul 09 These things I remember. I’m in a car, bumping along a stony track in the mountains, when suddenly, to the…... Read more

Why radio current affairs has a long, bright future

07 Jul 09 “News on the Radio”, said the American consultant breezily, “can never be more than a headline service”. The speaker was…... Read more

The death of Neda: Iran’s potent history of martyrdom

24 Jun 09 UPDATE June 25: The Twitter user quoted at length in this column reappeared after three days of silence, saying he…... Read more

Iranian bloodshed harks back to an earlier atrocity

14 Jun 09 The images we’ve been seeing of rioting and bloodshed in Tehran take me back almost three decades, to the northern…... Read more

Remembrance of things past: history without an airbrush

10 Jun 09 In the town of Caen, in Normandy, is one of the most remarkable museums I’ve ever visited. I went there…... Read more

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From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

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They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

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