Anti-intellectualism is widely seen as a feature of the modern mass media, but it is also widely accepted that much debate about ideas occurs through the mass media and that, for example, the mass media has been the prime vehicle for public intellectuals. In this paper, we examine this paradox and argue that there is a strong case that journalism, or parts of it, can be regarded as a form of intellectual practice. We do this by reference to a case study that examines the journalism of commentary and opinion and its use in fashioning a political and social agenda. This concerns Donald Horne's use of the magazines The Observer and the Bulletin to develop a public debate about Australian politics, society and culture. From this debate emerged the book The lucky country (1964) that set an agenda for public debate for at least 10 years.