WALKLEY ISSUE 68 OCTOBER – NOVEMBER 2011 $9.95
INSIDE THE MEDIA IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
New frontiers, new players Paul Barry Monica Attard Chris Graham Skye Doherty Malcolm Farr Julian Disney
PLUS Ginny Stein Sam Bungey Kristina Kukolja Phil Brown Simon Cunliffe Julian Ricci Judy Prisk Sukumar Muralidharan
TH WALK E L MEDI EY A CONF ER BRIS ENCE B NOV 2 ANE 5-27
THE 2011 FINALISTS ISSUE - WALKLEY AWARD NOMINEES ANNOUNCED
CONTACTS AND SPONSORS
Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance Federal President (Media) Peter Lewis Federal Secretary Christopher Warren Alliance Membership Centre: 1300 656 513 Alliance Inquiry Desk (for all other inquiries): 1300 656 512
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The Walkley Foundation and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance thank the following organisations for their generous support.
Photo: Dean Lewins (AAP)
Australia Post is a proud sponsor of The Walkley Magazine
The Walkley Media Conference 2011 State Library of Queensland, Brisbane, November 25-27
The new media landscape offers countless opportunities as well as pitfalls. Leading journalists, media thinkers and writers will discuss the scale and pace of change in the news industry at the Walkley Media Conference, part of the Walkley Festival of Journalism in Brisbane. Skilled journalism and quality storytelling are the focus, with sessions on satire, cartooning and the increasing use of humour in journalism. It will also be a chance to learn new skills with a range of media labs. • The Festival of Journalism November 23 to November 27 • Walkley Media Conference – November 25 to 27 • 56th Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism gala dinner – Sunday November 27 To get the facts visit:
RY? What’s the STO
walkleyconference.com.au Places are limited. Contact Melissa McAllister on 1300 65 65 13 or email: email@example.com
Inventing the Future. 2 Twalkley_conference.indd HE WALKLEY MAGAZINE 1
4/10/11 11:33 AM
OUR MEDIA In the dirt pit with filthy Phil By Phil Brown Being a columnist is one thing, getting a byline picture is another
Winter of discontent in the UK By Jonathan Este Can the British press survive the phone-hacking scandal?
New tricks 13 By Malcolm Farr Being an online reporter means more than learning a new lingo Proud to wear the black armband By Chris Graham Tracker magazine uses “agenda journalism” to lobby and, if necessary, litigate to get an outcome
Out of the ashes... By Paul Osborne NZPA is dead, but three new services have emerged to take New Zealand news to the world
Resisting Ming’s warriors By John Penlington Recalling Four Corners early days
Shaken and stirred 34 By Andrew Holden The Press staff is preparing to move back to Christchurch’s CBD 35
A kick in the right direction 37 By Pete Smith The media finally got some points in women’s sport with its coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany Trust me, I’m a reporter 44 By Laurie Oakes Journalists need to rebuild the public’s faith in what they do A media watchdog with teeth 45 By Julian Disney The community wants better standards in the media, and the Press Council is working on just that Crocs in their heads 46 By Julian Ricci What’s the story behind the NT News and its quirky front pages?
ON THE COVER The Australian Financial Review’s David Rowe is inspired by the “What’s the Story?” theme of the Walkley Media Conference
The power rangers By Paul Barry Who really runs Australia? Private Media is making a list
Brave new whirl By Monica Attard The Global Mail promises quality journalism without commercial pressures
FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE While the world was busy with other things 20 By Ginny Stein Looking for answers as to why three million Somalis are starving Don’t blame it on the BlackBerry By Sam Bungey Was social media to blame for Britain’s riots?
Family feud at The Hindu By Sukumar Muralidharan There’s a rift within one of India’s great media dynasties
Terror’s other victims By Joel Simon The war on terror has also been an assault on journalism
First, do no harm 33 By Kristina Kukolja Talking to survivors of the Srebrenica massacre raised buried memories and professional issues
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISM Past faces of the AJA Paul Lyneham and Connie Robertson
Many thanks, Mr Archibald By Helen Pitt The Bulletin founder’s bequest continues to help journalists
BOOKS A cop in a hard place 51 By Christine Nixon In her new book, the former Victorian police commissioner examines her relationship with the media Q&A with a Walkley warrior 52 Shirley Shackleton on winning the 2010 Walkley Book Award In the line of fire 53 By Matthew Ricketson A review of Adrian Hyland’s Kinglake-350 about Black Saturday
PAYING TRIBUTE Ten of the best
SUBBING The solution is zoo-logical By Tim Vaughan Subs dump on young journos to grow better prose
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW… … about writing obituaries By Harriet Veitch Remember, an obituary is about life, not death
56TH WALKLEY AWARDS
PHOTO ESSAY Black Saturday lingers on By Jason Edwards The realities of one family’s life after Black Saturday
Playing with the facts 40 By Skye Doherty Video games about terrorism and Somali pirates might be the start of a new frontier in journalism Making a drama out of a crisis 41 By Simon Cunliffe A journalist brings a fictional newsroom to the Dunedin stage
Seeing ourselves as others see us By Judy Prisk Sydney’s Herald is getting to know what readers really think
Stop laughing, this is serious By Lindsay Foyle It’s time newspapers treated comic strips with respect again
And the finalists are… The nominees in the 2011 Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
The things that matter
t has been a sad couple of months for Australian journalism, with the loss of many fine colleagues before their time. It began in August with the death of Les Kennedy, the iconic Sydney crime reporter. Then came the helicopter crash at Lake Eyre that killed the ABC’s Paul Lockyer, John Bean and Gary Ticehurst. The ABC family was hit hard again a few hours later when producer Ian Carroll lost his fight against cancer – then again with the sudden death of Sydney news chief-of-staff Bernie Keenan. There was also the death, at 57, of News Limited veteran David Nason. The outpouring of tributes from colleagues was to be expected. Journalists are good with words, and never better than when moved by the early deaths of colleagues they loved and admired. There were moving tributes about all these men from other journalists, delivered at funerals and wakes as well as in print, on air and online, paying tribute to their energy, professionalism, friendship and courage. Journalism is a small community and the death of any member is a loss to the profession as well as to colleagues. More surprising, and enlightening, was the depth of emotion that arose from readers and audiences in radio talkback segments, letters to the editor and online tribute sites. Journalists generally get a bad press: we are said to be regarded no higher than real-estate agents, used-car salesmen and politicians. But the public reaction to the deaths of these fine newsmen told a different story. People were grateful for the work that each had done: for the stories they had told truthfully, fairly, without sensationalising the facts or big-noting themselves. People recalled the lives that pilot Gary Ticehurst had helped save in the disastrous 1998 Sydney-to-Hobart race, and the brilliant images he had helped capture. They recalled the exquisite camerawork of John Bean, and the simple poetry
Editor: Jacqueline Park firstname.lastname@example.org Commissioning editors: Jenny Tabakoff, Jonathan Este Assistant editor: Lizzie Franks Subeditor: Jo McKinnon Editorial staff: Flynn Murphy, Julian Larnach Editorial interns: Julian Webster, Anna-Kate Gordon, Caroline Schelle Cover illustration: David Rowe Solicitors: Minter Ellison Lawyers Design: Louise Summerton Production management: Gadfly Media Address: Walkley Foundation Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance 245 Chalmers Street, Redfern, NSW 2016 Visit our website at walkleys.com Advertising inquiries: Julian Larnach 02 9333 0968 email@example.com To subscribe visit http://magazine.walkleys.com/ or phone 1300 65 65 13 Disclaimer: The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of The Walkley Foundation or the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance.
CONTRIBUTIONS WELCOME The Walkley Magazine, the only forum for discussion of media and professional issues by and for journalists, welcomes contributions from journalists, artists and photographers. To maintain the tradition and be worthy of the Walkleys, The Walkley Magazine aims to be a pithy, intelligent and challenging read, and to stand as a record of interesting news in the craft and profession of journalism. It is published five times a year and guidelines for contributors are available on request.
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of Paul Lockyer’s reporting – his honest, straight, thorough reporting as a foreign correspondent and from flood-ravaged Grantham. The police escort given to Les Kennedy’s funeral procession spoke volumes about his professionalism, and the regard in which he was held by the law. David Nason’s death sparked a tribute from former NT chief minister Shane Stone, who described him as a “very dogged and determined investigative journalist”, someone he was “really, really sorry” to lose. High praise. The work all these news gatherers did was important, and the body of fine work they created is their monument. Their images and reports helped to inform and shape public knowledge and opinion – and people loved them for it. Even those they had reported on – sometimes critically, always without fear or favour – admired their professionalism and appreciated the importance of their work. If some good can come out of such sad losses, then perhaps it is the affirmation that what journalists do matters. These are hard times for our craft, with many media companies in crisis and others under fire for allowing ethical standards to slip. The fallout from Britain’s News of the World phone-hacking scandal continues, and the shockwaves are likely to be felt as far away as Australia. In the face of all this, we would do well to remember that what the public wants, needs and loves is proper journalism. Important stories delivered in beautiful words and wonderful images, and presented with the utmost professionalism and ethical standards. If journalists do that, and resist the siren song of celebrity, trivia and bias, then the public will be with us. Christopher Warren Federal secretary Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
WALKLEY CONTRIBUTORS Doug Anderson Monica Attard Paul Barry Matt Bissett-Johnson Peter Broelman Joanne Brooker Phil Brown Sam Bungey Alex Coppel Steve Creedy Simon Cunliffe Julian Disney Skye Doherty Lee Duffield
Simon Dulhunty Jason Edwards Rod Emmerson Malcolm Farr Lindsay Foyle Justin Garnsworthy Matt Golding Chris Graham Andrew Holden Judy Horacek Fiona Katauskas Amanda Keenan Kristina Kukolja Peter Lewis
Reg Lynch Sukumar Muralidharan Christine Nixon Laurie Oakes Paul Osborne John Penlington Helen Pitt David Pope Judy Prisk Julian Ricci George Richards Matthew Ricketson David Rowe Shirley Shackleton
Peter Sheehan Pete Smith Joel Simon Ginny Stein Ron Tandberg John Tiedemann John Tulloh Tim Vaughan Harriet Veitch Justine Walpole Cathy Wilcox Thanks to Fairfax Photos & Newspix
In the dirt pit with Filthy Phil Being a columnist is one thing, getting a byline picture is another, as Phil Brown found out. Main photo by Justine Walpole
Main photo: Justine Walpole, Brisbane News. Inset photo: James Calvert-Jones, Australasian Post
he mission, should I choose to accept it, was to have my photo taken in a garbage bin while wearing a yellow sou’wester. This was put to me by Graham Holdstock, then editor of the quintessentially Aussie and now defunct Australasian Post. I had recently arrived in Melbourne and was looking for work. “I want you to write me a showbiz gossip column,” he said. “We’ll call it ‘The Dirt Pit by Filthy Phil’. I need a photo of you in a garbage skip wearing one of those yellow fisherman’s raincoats. You okay with that?” I was dumbstruck at first but then he added the clincher: “I’ll pay you 300 bucks a week.” That was a lot of money in 1993. “I’ll do it,” I said. The magazine was published by Southdown Press and I was assigned a staff photographer – James Calvert-Jones – who just happened to be Rupert Murdoch’s nephew. James, known as CJ, was a great bloke, a good photographer and promised he knew where we could find some relatively clean receptacles. The following day we scoured the back lanes of South Yarra, where they dispose of a better class of rubbish and the skips, well, you could almost eat out of them. We waited until no-one was looking. I put on my raincoat and climbed into one while CJ snapped away. It was all in a day’s work for a dedicated columnist. I was having flashbacks to those glory days while having my photo taken for a column in News Queensland’s lifestyle magazine Brisbane News, where I am senior writer – even though I’m not that old. Luckily my editor, Kylie Lang, had no unusual requirements for the shot. This time around the picture would be taken in the studio by snapper Justine Walpole and, if you must know, I wore an Italian sports jacket, a fine merino skivvy, tailored daks and suede German loafers. Every column needs an appropriate photo of the columnist. I remember getting shot for my first real column back in the late 1980s. I had bluffed my way into a job at Brisbane’s Daily Sun but was terrified because I’d been made assistant political reporter. A state election loomed and I would have to crisscross the state as sidekick to the main political roundsman, my mate, Wayne Sanderson. I was, let’s say, a tad fragile in those days – suffering from intermittent agoraphobia and a fear of flying – so the prospect was not a happy one. The chief-of-staff, Steve Howard, beckoned me over. “We’re going to make you a star,” he said, somewhat cryptically. “Huh?” I said. “You’re going to be our new daily columnist.” “Does this mean I’m off politics?” He nodded and I felt a massive wave of relief. My column was called “A Place in the Sun” (I used to introduce myself as “I’m Brown, from the Sun”) and featured a headshot that looked like a postage stamp commemorating Jerry Seinfeld.
But I also had to have another photo taken to feature in some television ads. For that I wore the only jacket I owned – a cream linen number that made me look like a Panamanian pimp. The maroon handkerchief that I wore in the top pocket completed the conceit. I lived in a bachelor pad (translation: a house with few furnishings and nothing in the fridge) in the Brizzie suburb of Paddington at the time, and stayed up into the wee hours watching myself on telly, which was a bit sad. Eighteen months later I moved to Sydney and a job writing for The Picture magazine in Sydney, which was then owned by Century Magazines. That salacious publication has developed a certain notoriety since then, but when I started it was basically a slightly racy feature mag, not unlike People. However not long after my arrival the founding editor, David Naylor, decided on a radical new editorial policy taking the mag way down-market. I was mortified when they asked me to write a sex column for the new-look mag – not my style at all. I had to have my photo taken for it, of course, and this time they wanted me reclining, in a dinner suit, drinking a glass of champers. I was sent off on the shoot with photographer Vedat Acikalin. He had a mate who owned a furniture store on Parramatta Road, which solved the problem of finding something suitable to recline on. We arrived at the shop and I took my position on a flash couch, which just happened to be on display in the shop’s front window. Passing drivers shouted appropriate obscenities as I struck a pose and Vedat clicked away. The photograph was deep etched in the magazine, which turned my rather wild mane into an afro. I looked like Michael Jackson on the cover of Off The Wall. I can’t recall exactly – I was too traumatised – if I filed one or two of those sex columns, but soon after that I resigned. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a vox pop in Martin Place, where I was to accost women passers-by and ask them if they would sleep with [then Aussie PM] Bob Hawke. I simply couldn’t face it so I cashed my pay cheque and fled. It’s a shame I left because the magazine went on to achieve great things, including running what I consider one of the most brilliant headlines of the late 20th century, written by Phil Stafford, now one of my colleagues at News Queensland. The headline was for a yarn about a woman with glandular problems who had developed three breasts (we’re talking inspired fiction here). There was a faked-photo of her deformity on the front cover with the headline: “Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady”. It doesn’t get any better than that, right? Phil Brown is senior writer for Brisbane News’ Lifestyle magazine, and an author
Books worth reading Journalists start off telling other people’s stories – but, if they grow old enough, end up writing about themselves. This fate has befallen two veteran pillars of the media, Gerald Stone and Derryn Hinch. Stone’s book, Say It With Feeling, (Macmillan Australia, $49.99) covers some familiar turf: Kerry Packer, Channel 9, the early days of 60 Minutes… Stone even quotes from his previous books, but the result is still interesting. He is best when describing his early years in Australia and his relationship with this country. He arrived here from the United States with his young family, a Cold War refugee looking for a safe haven from possible nuclear disaster back home. “Lucky to be here, mate,” the Customs officer at Sydney Airport told Stone – and the book proves he was right. Derryn Hinch’s Human Headlines: My 50 Years in the Media (Cocoon Lodge, $39.95) is a blunderbuss of a book that fires off on umpteen topics, often on the one page. It reads as an unreliable, self-regarding memoir. “The human headline” is best when writing about how a 15-year-old high-school dropout on the Taranaki Herald went on to become a fast-and-loose foreign correspondent and, at 32, editor of the Sydney Sun (he told Fairfax management he was 35). But watch out for big, steaming clichés: Christopher Skase (“like Icarus, he flew too close to the sun”), Raquel Welch (“one of the most impressive chests in history”), the Princess of Wales (“dying was the best career move Diana ever made”), the Dalai Lama (“not only a man of peace but a man at peace”). The resources boom may seem like a blessing, but Paul Cleary’s Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom and Australia’s Future (Black Inc., $24.95) mounts a convincing argument that Australia is handling its mineral bounty badly. Multinationals are undertaxed and under-regulated – and who is guarding the public interest in the rush to dig up non-renewable resources? Is Australia doomed to ride the resources boom to a painful bust? And could we learn something from the way East Timor is handling things? Admirably brief and timely. Journeys on the Silk Road by Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters (Picador, $34.99) is an exciting and readable account of the Diamond Sutra, the world’s oldest printed book (the scroll was created with the help of woodblocks in 868AD), and its adventures before and after it was rediscovered in 1900 in a cave on the edge of the Gobi Desert. Joseph Lyons, Australia’s tenth prime minister, did a capable job of leading Australia through the Depression. Yet history has largely ignored him – perhaps because neither side of politics can quite lay claim to him. Lyons led both: a seemingly dyed-in-thewool Labor man, he switched allegiances to lead its conservative rival, the United Australia Party, before dying in office in 1939. Anne Henderson has filled the gap with the first book-length biography, Joseph Lyons: The People’s Prime Minister (NewSouth, $49.95). The story of the Tasmanian boy from the bush who became premier, then prime minister, is well worth telling. Jenny Tabakoff
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The other Katter At a rally on August 16 against same-sex marriage, crossbench MP Bob Katter said the idea of marriage between two people of the same gender deserved to be “laughed at and ridiculed”. A week later, Network Ten’s 6.30 with George Negus aired an interview with Katter’s previously unknown gay half-brother Carl, in which he called Bob’s comments “hurtful… dangerous… damaging… [and] really inappropriate”. The scoop came through grassroots political organisation GetUp!, which is campaigning for gays and lesbians to have the right to marry in Australia. GetUp! spokesman Paul Mackay says Carl Katter approached them about going public after hearing his brother’s words. Negus was GetUp!’s first choice. “We think he is a pretty fair journalist with an amount of credibility, and [we knew] he would bring that fairness to [the interview], and not sort of push [Carl] on the lines and the politics, and at the same time not make it so much about Carl’s relationship with Bob, but why [Carl], as a gay man, believes in marriage equality.” Negus says: “Like most people, I get calls from GetUp! They had an agenda, sure, but this was an amazing thing for the guy to want to say, and I think he realised and they realised that this was a wider media issue as well… the whole issue of ‘gayness’, and its relationship to same-gender marriage. “To be quite frank, I think that gay people have a right to stuff up their lives by marrying the right or the wrong person just like the rest of us. They have the same right as we have to make the right or the wrong decision.” Negus’s position didn’t soften his interview: he interrogated the personal falling-out between Carl and Bob, asking “Is being gay at the root of your difference with Bob?” and, later, “Why did you offer to talk to us?” “The irony almost is that I went to university with Bob, and I knew Carl’s grandfather very well while he was in politics,” says Negus. “So the Katter family and I, as a former Queenslander, had a relationship that goes way back to before Bob went into politics and I went into journalism.” Mackay recalls: “We got in there, finished the interview, then George regaled us with a few tales about how they had been at uni together, and at one point the head of warring factions.” According to GetUp!, Carl received no media training; only four days passed between him contacting GetUp! and the taping of the Negus interview. Did Carl appear to be nervous? “Well, why wouldn’t he be?” says Negus. “He’s not a media professional, and it’s a very delicate subject. He was for all intents and purposes coming out [publicly] on television. “If you’ve interviewed as many people as I have, if somebody gets into a situation like that and straight away they’re slick, and totally articulate, never miss a beat, never say a word out of place, you think, ‘Hang on…’ “I found him genuine, and I thought he was a very courageous bloke… I’d be happy to have a drink with him.” Flynn Murphy
Neville Madsen’s images of a dramatic rescue attempt in Toowoomba on January 10 won him the Nikon-Walkley Community/Regional photo prize (see story opposite)
Tell ’em to go for Gold You’ve got to be in it to win it – and no-one knows that better than Laurie Oakes, the 2010 Gold Walkley winner. Addressing the Walkleys’ Editors and Producers lunch in Sydney in August, the Nine Network political editor (and chair of the Walkleys Advisory Board) told the assembled executives how important it was for them to encourage their journalists to enter. “I happen to know that last year’s Gold Walkley winner was not going to enter and had to be leaned on by his news director,” he revealed. Oakes’s speech emphasised the role the Walkleys could play in raising the public’s trust in journalists – something that has taken a battering in recent years. An edited version of his speech is on page 44.
Fiji’s unions under attack
NikonWalkley photo prizes The 2011 Nikon-Walkley Portrait and Community/Regional photo prizes have gone to Queensland photographers Brian Cassey and Neville Madsen respectively. Cassey won the Portrait Prize for a shot of Cairns burns survivor Carol Mayer (see above) for The Sunday Mail. The judges said it was an instant choice. “It’s just mesmerising… The vivid blue eyes get you in, and then you just can’t stop looking.” Dean Lewin’s shot of Lady Gaga in a media crush in Sydney was commended in the same category. Toowoomba Chronicle photographer Neville Madsen won the Community/Regional Prize for photographs of a dramatic attempted rescue as floodwaters surged through Toowoomba’s streets. “It tells the story of a huge event,” the judges said, praising the way Madsen had “gone through the worst and got to the best vantage point”. Simon Chillingworth, of The Manly Daily, was commended. Also praised was Andy Drewitt, of Leader Community Newspapers. The judges said the overall quality of entries in the Community/Regional category was very strong. The prizewinners were announced at the Australian Centre for Photography (ACP), in Sydney’s Paddington, on October 13. Cassey and Madsen received prizes of Nikon cameras. Their images and those of the other finalists in the Nikon-Walkley Award categories will be displayed at the ACP until November 19, then tour the country. You can view them online at walkleys.com/gallery
A new law passed by Fiji’s military junta has direct implications for media workers in the country. The Essential National Industries Employment Decree, passed on September 7, makes work protests without a permit illegal. Unions face fines of just under $60,000 for encouraging such industrial action and individual protesters face imprisonment. The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation is classed as an “essential service”, and the new decree is yet another blow to media workers in the country. Already they are forced to operate under the April 2010 Media Decree, which forbids negative portrayals of the Fijian administration, places restrictions on content and actively encourages positive portrayals of the government. The new law was instituted to obstruct the organising power of Fijian workers, but goes against the International Labour Organisation conventions, to which Fiji is a signatory. It comes after a year-long campaign of intimidation against leading Fijian union officials by Fiji’s military. At the time of writing, two senior Fijian trade unionists, Fiji Trades Union Congress federal secretary Felix Anthony and president Daniel Urai, were in prison charged with “unlawful assembly”. More questions were raised when Fijian blog coupfourandahalf.com published a leaked document that revealed Air Pacific had paid a US law firm to draft the decree. Qantas owns 46 per cent of Air Pacific, and the Australian government has called on the national airline to explain its role in the drafting of the legislation. The most recent decree further erodes the conditions faced by Fijian media workers. The former director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission, Dr Shaista Shameem, points out the greater implications of this new law, as it is taking part in an environment where “media censorship prevails or where there is no parliamentary process in place for public discourse and debate of proposed law”. Julian Larnach
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On September 5 and 6, some of Australia’s top media thinkers and strategists converged on Canberra for the Walkley Foundation’s annual Public Affairs Conference. The highlight of the conference was the Great Debate. Journalists Lenore Taylor (The Sydney Morning Herald) and George Megalogenis (The Australian) argued the toss with federal Liberal politician Peter Dutton and Labor’s Mark Butler as to who’s to blame for the current state of sound-bite reporting and policy-weak politics. Moderated by news.com.au’s Malcolm Farr, the audience reaction saw the debate end with no clear winner. It was declared a draw. Yolanda Saiz and Chantelle Johnson from St Vincent de Paul Society NSW spoke about how mainstream media and social media can join forces to help raise awareness of charities. Professor John McMillan spoke on Freedom of Information reforms and how much government transparency is possible. The Commonwealth ombudsman, Allan Asher, discussed how poor communication has proven the death knell of positive policy developments over the past decade. To catch up on what you missed, go to walkleypanc2011. posterous.com
What can the future hold? “What can government do? In a word: engage,” begins page 52 of the Media Alliance’s Life in the Clickstream II: The Future of Journalism report, published in December last year. There’s hope that the federal government’s just-announced independent media inquiry will represent exactly this: engagement with the concerns of an industry in flux. Much of the debate around the inquiry has centred on political agendas and freedom of speech – both important questions. Three of the four terms of reference are related to ethical journalism and the flagging credibility of the news media – also a vital concern. Of equal significance, though, is term (b) of the terms of reference, an undertaking to investigate “the impact of… technological change on the business model that has supported… quality journalism and the production of news, and how such activities can be supported, and diversity enhanced…” The phrase “quality journalism” gets thrown around a lot, as everything from an elitist dog whistle to a cynical indictment of stuffy traditionalism. It often means journalism that may not be widely popular or engaged with, but is genuinely vital to sustain a functioning democracy. It holds politicians and institutions of the day to account, allows civic engagement, and tells the stories of marginalised groups. These are all things that new forms of media do effectively. But without the resources of a major news organisation, they cannot reach their potential. The Future of Journalism report argued that the government should look at potential subsidies for existing news organisations, as well as grants and bursary options for news start-ups. It should look at what other OECD countries are doing to reinforce the core democratic purpose of journalism in an environment where advertising revenues can no longer fund this important work. Doing so will have the knock-on effect of increasing media diversity in this country. In 2009, the French government pledged 600 million euros in emergency aid to the troubled French newspaper industry, and has established a free newspaper subscription service for teenagers to encourage life-long take-up. In The Netherlands, millions of euros have been spent on journalist training programs and an 8 million euro innovation fund set up for internet news start-ups. You can find the Media Alliance Future of Journalism report at www.thefutureofjournalism.org.au Flynn Murphy
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Cracking open detention centres A campaign by the Media Alliance to win journalists better access to immigration detention centres is gaining momentum. In August the immigration minister, Chris Bowen, told the Labor caucus that his department was drafting guidelines that would allow journalists to take pens, paper and recording devices into centres. Earlier this year, the immigration department increased the threat level posed by a journalist trying to get unauthorised access to a detention centre from “major” to “critical” – the same level as a bomb threat. Pamela Curr, campaigns co-ordinator with the Melbourne-based Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, says a cultural change is needed. She has heard of a number of cases where journalists have been denied access or kicked out of facilities. She was present when Age journalist Michael Gordon was removed from the Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre at Broadmeadows, Melbourne when guards worked out he was a journalist – after he had spent 45 minutes talking with a number of young asylum seekers. The experience informed a piece Gordon wrote the next day for The Age, which noted that the centre, which held 130 “lost boys”, had the appearance of a home but was for them essentially a prison. It noted that “several of the inmates carry the scars of self-harm, many rely on sleeping tablets and most seem to be weighed down by uncertainty.” The immigration department’s policy is that no visual images can be recorded at detention centres, on the grounds of protecting asylum seekers and their families. At the recent Walkley Public Affairs Conference, immigration department spokesperson Sandi Logan told The Walkley Magazine: “Our main concern is the privacy of our clients.” But ABC radio producer Jess Hill points out there is a double standard when it comes to video and audio. While there can be many obstacles, radio journalists like herself can already conduct interviews and produce stories by using one of the detention centre phones shared by every 200-odd asylum seekers. “And they could name their whole family if they wanted to… There are no restrictions on that.” Curr thinks the ruling has more to do with the department wanting to stop video of asylum seekers reaching the public than privacy concerns. And as Hill notes: “Images are what carries a story on television. [That’s why the immigration department] goes to huge lengths to make it difficult.” Gordon says if new media protocols are drafted, they should be based on “common sense”. “If identification is an issue (putting family members in their home country at risk, for example), media representatives can agree that they not be identified. If discussion of specific details of their individual claims could prejudice determinations, such details can be held back until decisions are reached.” “What is the problem with stories about detention and why people come here being told to the Australian people?” Curr asks. “The media can be responsible and often are. And asylum seekers are human beings with human rights, and they should have a right to make decisions about their lives.” Flynn Murphy
Cartoon: David Pope, The Canberra Times
In the public arena
The 44th Northern NSW Regional Journalism Awards (known as the Prodis) were announced in Newcastle on July 23. The ABC’s Aaron Kearney was named Journalist of the Year. He also won awards for Best Print Feature Writing (Maitland Mercury), Specialty Journalism (The Drum/The Roar), and Best Radio Current Affairs Reporting, Feature or Special (ABC). The judges said: “Aaron Kearney is a deserving winner of this award: he has demonstrated considerable talent, extending across media with apparent fearlessness and aptitude.” The annual awards, which cover the region from the Hawkesbury River to the Queensland border and to the north-west of NSW, draw their nickname from the “Provincial District” of the Australian Journalists’ Association (now the Media Alliance). They recognise the dedication, versatility and local knowledge that underpins the best regional journalism. Other major winners were Ray Dinneen for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism and Ava BennyMorrison from The Northern Star who took out the Tom Barrass Award for regional journalism. Giselle Wakatama, of ABC Newcastle, won awards for Best Investigative Journalism, Best Radio News Report and Best Television Current Affairs or Feature. Troy Snook, of Cumberland Courier Newspapers, was named Best Photographer, and also won for Sport and Feature Photography (the latter for his series on an alligator nest egg raid, see photo). Sam Rigney won the PF Adams Young Journalist of the Year Award. The judges said he demonstrated “journalistic ability beyond his years” in breaking the story of a potential salary cap breach at the Maitland Pickers rugby league club.
Photo: Troy Snook
And the Prodis winners are…
The Media Alliance’s federal secretary, Christopher Warren, said: “Regional journalists perform a crucial public service – they are the people who keep their communities informed.” He added that they produce “some of the finest journalism we have in this country”. For a full list of winners, go to prodis.alliance.org.au.
A big year for the Clarions
Screws tighten in Hong Kong
Tony Koch claimed the top honour at the 2011 Queensland Clarion Awards, taking home the Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism award. Koch, a five-times Walkley winner who retired from The Australian’s Brisbane bureau in June, was also praised for his generosity as a mentor to generations of younger journalists. Trent Dalton, of The Courier-Mail’s Qweekend magazine, was named Queensland’s Journalist of the Year for his feature on domestic violence, “Home is Where the Hurt Is”. Dalton, who admitted he was “excited and humbled” at receiving the award, dedicated the honour to the ABC’s John Bean, Paul Lockyer and Gary Ticehurst, who died in a helicopter crash in August. From 2012, the Clarion award for camerawork will be named the John Bean Memorial Award for Television News or Current Affairs Camerawork. The award will be sponsored by the ABC. Bean was a finalist in this year’s Clarions and was a previous winner for Best Cinematography. In record year for entries, 13 Clarions went to coverage of the state’s recent natural disasters. Koch also shared the prize for Best Investigative Report with colleague Sarah Elks for their reporting about the financial and administrative breakdown of Djarragun College, a privately run Indigenous school near Cairns. You can find a full list of winners at clarions.org/awards/
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has written an open letter to Hong Kong’s chief executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, expressing its concern about recent erosions of press freedom and the behaviour of police in the special administrative region. In its August 29 letter, the IFJ’s Asia-Pacific branch noted that these greater restrictions on press freedom and freedom of assembly coincided with the appointment of Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsang in January 2011. On July 1, Kiri Choy, an intern journalist with New Tang Dynasty Television, and David Cheung, a citizen journalist with Green Radio, were arrested by police and detained for more than 10 hours when they were unable to produce their press cards. Commissioner Tsang later denied that the arrests and detention had occurred. On August 11, Emily Tsang of Ming Pao, Cathy Tang of Sing Tao, and Capital Weekly’s James Yan were accused of attempted burglary and detained by police for at least six hours, after they had registered and received a visitor’s permit at the reception office of the New Government Complex in Hong Kong. On August 18, an unidentified person stopped Now Television camera operator Sit Ka-Kit from filming the visit of Chinese First Vice Premier Li Keqiang to Laguna City, Kowloon. The cameraman’s complaint to a uniformed police officer was ignored. Other local journalists also faced obstacles and unwarranted security checks when they tried to cover Li’s visit, according to the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association. Hong Kong media were granted access to fewer than half of the scheduled events during Li’s visit. Remaining activities were covered mainly by the Government Information Office, which disseminated only edited footage to the media. Foreign media also had very restricted access during the visit, and citizens wearing “Redress June 4” T-shirts (a reference to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre) were detained by police. Serenade Woo
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Seeing ourselves as others see us As readers’ editor at Sydney’s Herald, Judy Prisk knows what people really think of the paper. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas
t’s got to be the best job in Australia,” a reader wrote on my first day exemplary journalism.” But I’m starting to think I will spend a lot of time as readers’ editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald. trying to persuade readers that not all journalists have an agenda, and that they “Imagine being paid to read the Herald all day.” Well, yes, but I hadn’t don’t have to search the paper looking for hidden meanings. realised “reading the Herald all day” would include trawling through the I’m working on an analogy along the lines of a best friend who does classifieds – “I’m sick of hunting for the bridge column. If space is a problem, something out of character: dyes her hair a shocking colour or starts wearing why not drop some of the illustrations that seem to be there just as fillers clothes that are seriously not a good look. You don’t stop loving her; you just [the op-ed illo]” – and searching for kinks in pages and off-centre folding – agonise about if you should say something, or just hope that she comes to “Spectrum was actually stapled off-centre.” her senses. After a while you realise that if you really loved her you would The first email to drop into my inbox was not what I’d hoped for: say something, gently and diplomatically. If you didn’t, you couldn’t really “I figure you must have been bought out by Arabs judging by the be counted as a friend. But, before you do, you ponder: is it my promotionn [sic] of their cause throughout your friend who has changed, or is it me? paper. What is going on? It is beyond the lowest Peter Fray, the Herald’s editor-in-chief and of the low!!!” publisher, pushed hard for the position of Fortunately (for my professional a readers’ editor. It was a brave concept. The ego, if nothing else) what has followed job description said the role would: “ensure has been mostly warm, welcoming the reputation, balance and quality of – and humbling. the paper is maintained by addressing It seemed readers had been waiting feedback and complaints”, and: “The a very long time for someone to talk aim is to draw readers into an ongoing to, someone who would listen to their conversation about ‘their’ paper.” pleas and concerns, someone who When I say brave, I mean it: whoever was would explain how things work inside appointed would be pressing and pushing a newsroom (one reader timidly asked and delving and digging. Why was that story for a brief job description of a sub and a brief? Why wasn’t that story a check sub), and someone who would even covered? Why was that image selected? turn The Sydney Morning Herald into Why didn’t that story go up the front? Why was something they could open and rejoice that story dropped? For the first time readers in all the way through. have someone in-house to ask why things are This, naturally, would mean no yarns done the way they are. about war or sad things happening to children, There is an honourable and cleansing aspect the elimination of certain op-ed columnists to that (which I hope the reporters and editors and definitely no crosswords from people can enjoy as much as I do), because the For the first time readers have who blow your mind. It would include a daily journalists I work with are some of the most someone in-house to ask why things article about “our good life”, preferably on talented, honest and principled people I have are done the way they are page one and supported by its own column, ever met. Their daily decisions – made in haste, and perhaps an in-depth investigation of the often on the run and with only their gut instinct ongoing sexist activities and entertainment to guide them – are mostly judged perfectly. And at a particular annual gathering. It might also offer an exposition on why when they are not, most are already kicking themselves next morning, even television shows of today give the impression that “today’s females (unlike before readers put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards, to fire off a rocket. other animals) are always on heat, our legal profession is saturated with It is easy to get the feeling that I am the one disappointing readers: I have not lesbians and gays and that whenever there is a dull moment most people saved Schapelle Corby, I cannot hire and fire, I am not an investigative reporter drink themselves under the table.” who will crack open the secrets behind how our foreign aid is spent, My greatest pleasure so far – and honour (and if that sounds trite, I don’t I cannot demand that our political reporters stand front and centre and declare care) – is the enormous respect and love readers have for the paper. So many how they voted, and so far I have not brought peace to the Middle East. But emails (and snail mail) start with words like “I treasure the Herald” or “If hey, it’s early days. I were not an atheist, I would thank God for the Herald” before outlining with measured (mostly) disapproval things the paper has done that “disappointed” Judy Prisk has been readers’ editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and or, in some cases, “disgusted” them. Then they close with lines such as: “Despite The Sun-Herald since August all that, this is an expression of gratitude for many thousands of hours of Fiona Katauskas is a freelance cartoonist; fionakatauskas.com
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Winter of discontent in the UK The British press faces an uncomfortable year in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal. Jonathan Este reports from London. Illustration by Peter Lewis
he tagline of John Le Carré’s classic cold war novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is: “Who will spy on the spies?” The latest film version is currently wowing critics in Britain, so it is apt that Lord Justice Leveson – who will preside over a far-reaching inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press in the wake of the News of the World (NOTW) phone-hacking scandal – described his job recently as being along similar lines. “The press provides an essential check on all aspects of public life,” he said in a statement about his appointment. “That is why any failure within the media affects all of us. At the heart of this inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?” The phone-hacking scandal is fast developing into Britain’s Watergate. Far from being merely about one rogue reporter, or a rogue newsroom or a rogue media organisation, the affair has exposed something rotten at the heart of the key institutions: press, police and government. As Carl Bernstein told the “After Hacking: How can the press restore trust?” debate, organised by The Guardian in late September, both Watergate and the News of the World scandal were “shattering cultural moments of huge consequence that are going to be with us for generations. Rupert Murdoch broke the civic compact of this country, achieving a degree of control over the central institutions of a free society, the press, police and politicians.” He went on to ask: “How can the press restore trust? The only tool at our command is good reporting and the use of shame. We have to stop this fiction
“The Jockey Club bars jockeys from riding horses – why can’t we bar journalists from writing articles?” about the press media not being part of the larger culture. Our institutions have lost the trust of the people.” That trust will be further eroded in months to come. Hardly a week goes by without another revelation about the extent of the phone hacking or the degree of collusion by bent coppers or pliable parliamentarians and their minions. The House of Commons select committee on media, culture and sport has made much of the running on this issue, thanks to the dogged questioning of Labour MP, Tom Watson. Tuning into those proceedings gives the casual viewer a seemingly never-ending stream of unedifying insights into the way things get done at the top. The Leveson inquiry, which was appointed in July and is expected to report by the end of next year, is likely to provide much more of the same, while the various other inquiries into the extent of the phone hacking and police misconduct will also continue to erode public trust. The outcome is likely to be stricter control over the media, according to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who at September’s debate said Leveson, at the very least, would probably recommend the reform of the Press Complaints Commission to give the body some teeth. “This was an extremely bleak story about journalism at its worst,” he said. “The next few months and years are going to be extremely uncomfortable ones for journalists.” He predicted that the public mood, especially after the revelation about the hacking of murder victim Milly Dowler’s phone, would be for more regulation of the press. Already there have been calls for the licensing of journalists. The British
shadow culture secretary, Labour’s Ivan Lewis, floated a proposal that journalists found guilty of gross malpractice should be “struck off ”, an idea that has found favour with at least one Fleet Street editor, The Independent’s Chris Blackhurst. Blackhurst told the BBC that any “new body” that replaced the Press Complaints Commission ought to have similar powers to regulators of health services or the finance industry: the ability to “seize documents and seize computers”. Journalists found guilty should be disbarred, he said. “The Jockey Club bars jockeys from riding horses – why can’t we bar journalists from writing articles?” Rusbridger has come out strongly against the idea: “I don’t agree with that. We got rid of the licensing of the press in 1695. It would be a very bad direction to go back to 1694. I don’t think things are that bad.” So it was into this febrile atmosphere of mistrust and contempt that the Metropolitan Police planted their size-11 flat feet in September. If it wasn’t bad enough that the former commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, was forced to resign after it was revealed that his PR consultant and regular dinner companion, former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis, had arranged for him to have £12,000 worth of free hospitality at a health spa. Or that his deputy, John Yates, also had to resign after he revealed under questioning that he had failed to examine several bin bags full of evidence in the phone hacking inquiry. Or that another police officer in charge of that inquiry, Andy Hayman, reported that there was nothing to see – before retiring and going to work for a News International newspaper. Or that it has been revealed that officers from the Met visited the Guardian editor to advise him to pull his reporters off the phone-hacking story. Yes, if all that wasn’t enough, authorities threatened to invoke the Official Secrets Act to force Amelia Hill, one of the Guardian journalists behind the Milly Dowler story, to give up her confidential source. As the paper’s columnist Marina Hyde wrote, in a neat reworking of a New Labour election slogan coined by Tony Blair: “Not tough on crime. Tough on the reporting of crime.” General opprobrium led the cops to back down. And as the fallout continues, with former newspaper and News International executives playing the blame game: filing wrongful dismissal lawsuits against their former employers, appearing – shifty-eyed and shamed – at inquiries and committee hearings, and pointing the finger at someone, anyone, else to shift the blame from t hemselves, public trust in journalism is unlikely to recover any time soon. Jonathan Este is contributing editor of The Walkley Magazine Peter Lewis is editorial cartoonist for the Newcastle Herald
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New tricks Veteran political reporter Malcolm Farr may not understand the online jargon, but he’s making the most of its tools. Cartoon by Reg Lynch
ne of my first lessons as an online journalist arrived swiftly and with underlined the fact. If a 747 crashed into city hall, it’s likely, if one followed a sting. It was early this year and I had just switched from The Daily the right people, that the news would first appear on Twitter, or online Telegraph to being national political editor at news.com.au. For the first somewhere else. time in almost 40 years I was not writing for a newspaper, and I felt a little lost. The task for newspaper and online journalists then is not to simply repeat I had put a lot of work into a political story and was pleased to see it getting that news, but to take it further, reporting why it happened, who was involved, a reasonable number of hits on the news.com.au site, which was confirmed in and how people will be affected. an email from an editor. Newspapers at present have greater resources and might put together a better “However,” he warned, “we are about to upload a video of a dog riding coverage. However, the online coverage will also be comprehensive and will a scooter which is going to kick your arse.” appear well before the hard-copy newspaper report, maybe 12 hours before. And thus the kicking came to pass. My spot in the top five stories of the day Newspapers will continue to be important news sources for decades to come, as measured by hits was taken over by the pooch on the kid’s toy. certainly beyond my working life. But their readership is dying out or ebbing I wasn’t surprised. Cute animal pictures towards other outlets, many of them digital. always are popular, as every good editor The figures scream the story, although knows and every decent reporter laments. I can only speak for one site, the one I work The significance for me was the for. It’s not unusual for news.com.au to demonstration of the many ways a story have over 600,000 visitors in a single day. could be told online. There was the We are almost always over 500,000 per printed word that I was used to, the still day. We have between five and six million pictures I was familiar with, and now Australian unique visitors – the industry also video, even if it was just of a hairy standard measurement – each month. mutt coasting on two wheels. I have since On the day Osama bin Laden used all three formats – plus interactive was confirmed dead, we had more devices – and discovered the expanded than 878,000 browsers – domestic and choice is liberating. international – who accessed some In March I took photos of the anti8.7 million pages between them. The carbon tax rally in front of Parliament main article reporting bin Laden was House, emailed them from an iPad, and killed got over a million views on its own. There have been new problems, one being they went with pieces I wrote for the news Our biggest day this year was when strange jargon. My co-workers largely site and The Punch that afternoon. Cyclone Yasi was declared a Category 5 There were other factors that kept storm before it crossed the coast into far are half my age and twice my IQ, and speak reminding me I no longer worked for north Queensland. Some 1.07 million another language a newspaper, too. people – Australian and overseas – came On my first visit to the Sydney to the site looking for updates. newsroom of news.com.au, I was a little distressed by the neatness and the For me, the most dramatic demonstration of how online journalism absence of noise. I considered throwing papers on the floor and yelling “Fuck!” could do its job extraordinarily well came with coverage of the entire three to see what would happen. weeks of the Queensland floods and cyclone disaster (which happened while And online journalism doesn’t have other, centuries-old traditions of I was on holidays). newspapers. On the peak day of the flood crisis, the audience rose to more than 830,000 One of my emotion-packed memories is of the “galley rattle’’ – the rhythmic site visitors. They not only were able to read stories updated regularly, but also banging of rulers by typographers – that accompanied the last front page of the could see superb artwork showing, for example, before and after photographs Sydney Daily Mirror as it was carried with great ceremony to the presses. of flooded Brisbane locations. An online news site could be closed by the flick of a switch. It has yet to Since then I have been involved in two stories featuring interactive devices gather its own traditions. put together by very clever people to accompany my words. One allowed the There have been new problems, one being strange jargon. My co-workers visitor to enter their postcode to find out how small business was performing largely are half my age and twice my IQ, and speak another language. in their area. Another allowed them to check out the history and personal I had a long chat with a bright young woman, a senior editorial executive, status of ministers. before I realised that when she said “data capture” she meant “research”. I still They were news presentations newspapers could not match. have to return office memos asking for technical details to be explained. Making money out of that online influx is the huge problem being examined The required learning is part of the fun, and online journalism certainly by someone else. As a journalist I have other things to sort out. can be fun. I discovered this while covering the last federal election for the Meanwhile, the online/newspaper divide is appearing in more families. In Daily Telegraph. my own home, every breakfast my wife flicks through newspapers while my A friend, who then was a journalism lecturer at a university, had convinced daughter flicks open her laptop. I have an eyeball in each medium, respectful of me that Twitter was not just a bunch of strangers broadcasting banalities about one, thoroughly enjoying the other. their coffee consumption or hairstyles. So I bought myself an iPad, signed on to Twitter, teamed up with some Malcolm Farr is national political editor of news.com.au and a contributor talented videographers for online stories, and discovered that newspapers no to thepunch.com.au longer owned the news. Reg Lynch, now based in Tasmania, regularly contributes to Fairfax publications Smarter people than me had worked this out decades ago, but Twitter and occasionally to other ones
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Proud to wear the black armband Chris Graham makes no apology for the agenda journalism of Tracker magazine, as traditional journalism hasn’t worked
uring the late 1980s, the Washington Press Club Foundation completed As an example, Tracker recently broke a story about a Redfern Police “alumni a “Women in Journalism” oral history project. Ethel Payne, an Africanpage” on Facebook, which included a string of racist postings about Aboriginal American journalist known as the “first lady of the black press”, was the people. Under the traditional model of journalism, we would break the story, subject of seven interviews. Payne was asked to respond to colleagues’ charges police hierarchy would publicly apologise, and then we’d start looking for the that she “champions the causes of the little men at the expense of objectivity”. next news story to wrap tomorrow’s fish and chips. For its part, police culture She replied: “I stick to my firm, unshakeable belief that the black press is rolls on unchanged, because there’s no real sanction against the behaviour. an advocacy press, and that I, as a part of that press, can’t afford the luxury Agenda journalism is about providing that sanction. of being unbiased and not objective when it comes to the issues that really Because Tracker is aligned with the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, we’ll use affect my people…” the political muscle of our elected officials to lobby the NSW government – and Payne is best known for her coverage of civil rights events such as the NSW Police – for greater internal reform, including punishment. Montgomery Bus Boycott. She was an aggressive reporter and famously asked Tracker has access to a talented team of lawyers in-house at the Land Council, President Dwight Eisenhower when he would and other lawyers externally, who are investigating the ban segregation on public legal options of those harmed transport. Eisenhower’s by the Facebook postings. furious reply – that he would It may come to nought, but we not bow to special interests won’t die wondering. – made headlines around the And we won’t stop trying. world and gave the civil rights The pages of every edition of movement a boost. Tracker are laced with agendas. Aboriginal Australia, as yet, Tracker is pursuing government has no Ethel Payne. I think over the blatant destruction of that’s in part because traditional an important Aboriginal rock models of journalism do not carving. Without giving too work for Aboriginal people. If much away, we’ll do more than they did, there wouldn’t be an just report on the issue. average life expectancy of only We have also committed to 46 years in some communities. revisiting all of the 99 deaths It aims to highlight the positive Aboriginal men wouldn’t be investigated by the Royal incarcerated in Australia at a rate five achievements of Aboriginal people, a luxury Commission into Aboriginal Deaths times more than black South Africans in Custody. Why? Because one of the not often afforded in mainstream media during the dying days of apartheid. most expensive royal commissions And they wouldn’t have trachoma, a in history recommended reducing third-world disease, in a first-world nation. the level of incarceration to reduce the number of deaths. Jailing rates have I’m not suggesting that the media doesn’t sometimes serve the interests of skyrocketed ever since. Aboriginal people well. The Australian’s campaign for justice over the 2004 death The charge that Tracker will inevitably face is that it does the bidding of the in custody of an Aboriginal man on Palm Island is an example of outstanding, NSW Aboriginal Land Council. I’ll address that accusation right now. tenacious reporting which held government – and police – to account. But in Tracker was created to inform our members, and other Aboriginal people, Aboriginal affairs that sort of reporting is the exception, not the rule. about what’s going on inside the NSW land rights network. In particular, it aims So what is the solution? A new model of journalism, one that goes beyond to highlight the positive achievements of Aboriginal people. It’s a matter of just simple reporting. concern to the Land Council’s board that media miss the positive point so often. In April this year, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council – my employer – The second role is to advocate for the broader interests of the Aboriginal launched a magazine called Tracker. Every member of the land council system community both in NSW and beyond. gets a free copy of Tracker every month, giving the publication a direct-mail So, yes, Tracker does the bidding of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. That is circulation of more than 20,000. In addition, we sell Tracker through newsagents part of why the magazine was created in the first place. But the Land Council – a and via subscription to individuals and institutions. It adds up to a monthly print democratically elected organisation – does the bidding of the 20,000-plus land run of 35,000 copies. By circulation standards, Tracker is no Herald Sun, but nor council members in NSW, about one quarter of the state’s Aboriginal population. is it the Guyra Argus: 35,000 copies is hard for government to completely ignore. It also does the bidding of Aboriginal groups around the nation, due to it The Land Council is funded, not by government, but from interest earned on being one of only two Aboriginal organisations with speaking rights at the more than half a billion dollars in investments. Tracker operates as a commercial United Nations. venture. We take advertising, we chase revenue. And whatever we make goes back The Land Council has many agendas, but its two key roles – its most important into the Land Council’s advocacy work, or is reinvested into the magazine. job – is to represent the interests of Aboriginal people and to give voice to the But it’s the style of reporting that we practise – we call it agenda journalism – voiceless. That was Ethel Payne’s job as well, and in doing so she regularly drew that really makes Tracker different. Like campaign journalism, agenda journalism fire from her colleagues. If Tracker is half as successful as Payne, then agenda thrashes away at an issue, in pursuit of a outcome. But unlike campaign journalism has a bright future. journalism, we don’t just limit our efforts to reporting. We use the ethics and practices of journalism as our base, but agenda Chris Graham has won both a Walkley and a Human Rights Award. He is journalism seeks to go further by also using the resources available to us to managing editor of Tracker magazine and media and marketing director of the lobby and, if necessary, to litigate until we get an outcome. NSW Aboriginal Land Council
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Out of the ashes... NZPA is dead, but three new services will be taking New Zealand news to the world, writes Paul Osborne. Illustration by Rod Emmerson
he final story from the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA), delivered on the wire on August 31, concluded with the word “ends” – just like the millions of stories that preceded it over 131 years of operation. But “begins” would also have been appropriate. The NZPA is no more, but three new services have emerged to take New Zealand news to the world. Their births coincided with the eve of the Rugby World Cup (the biggest event ever staged in New Zealand), and with a national election looming in November. Australian Associated Press (AAP) launched NZ Newswire (NZN) on September 5 to cover major breaking news events, features, finance and sport around the “Every country deserves a free and independent voice in country. AAP chief Tony Gillies says the 10-person team, based in Wellington and Auckland and supported by a media and news agencies generally fill this role” network of freelance reporters, will produce about 40 stories a day for New Zealand and Australian print and But even Gillies says everyone would have preferred to see NZPA continue, digital publishers and broadcasters. The entire NZN team is made up of New Zealanders, most of them ex-NZPA. Indeed the NZ Newswire editor, Nick especially after such a long history. Brown, was the editor of NZPA until late 2010. “Every country deserves a free and independent voice in media and news “These are very good, experienced, agency journalists and we are lucky to agencies generally fill this role. It’s proper then that an independent news have them on board,” Gillies says. agency like Australian Associated Press – with a 75-year tradition of balanced, But while the reporting team will be led by Wellington-based chief-of-staff fair, accurate reporting – is able to step into the void left by our friends at NZPA. “I’m also very proud of the fact that we have been able to employ quite Sean Martin, the service will be edited and prepared for transmission by a a few NZPA journalists for our venture. They are all very experienced and very team in Sydney. good agency journalists and we’re so happy to have them on board.” Gillies says the focus will be on accuracy. “To NZ Newswire, speed is NZPA’s newspaper shareholders, Fairfax NZ and APN, have also decided to essential but accuracy is more important. As it is the medium other media expand their own news services and share content within their group and turn to, there’s an inherent trust that we get the story right.” to some peer media companies. The service will champion impartiality, according to Gillies. “NZN has no political axe to grind, nor advertisers to please. News value is paramount and Stories generated by APN’s new service, APNZ, led by Auckland-based bureau chief Chris Reed, are being sent to more than 50 New Zealand independence and reporting integrity are guarded above all else.” newspapers. Those titles will also contribute copy to APNZ for use by Images, graphics and video will also be part of the service – delivered subscribing papers, just as NZPA did for more than a century. Seventeen staff directly into newsroom systems. work for the service, including some recruited from NZPA. Reed told The New Zealand Herald that his team would work to gather stories from so-called “black holes” in media coverage areas. Those staff would THE RISE AND FALL OF NZPA have mobile reporting kits to produce swift and comprehensive coverage. • Founded in 1879-80 as the United Press Association. (It became the The new Fairfax service is called Fairfax New Zealand News (FNZN). New Zealand Press Association in 1942.) The New Zealand Herald reported that the publisher, which has more than 70 newspapers and 400 reporters in New Zealand, runs its copy-sharing • Just after World War I, the agency had 74 subscribing papers bound model through existing newsrooms and additional sport, business and in a cooperative to share their stories with other members. In the political bureaus. 1970s and 1980s, NZPA had reporters in Sydney, Asia, London and It has hired senior NZPA journalist Greg Tourelle as its “content editor”. Washington DC. His task will be to manage group coverage on the big stories of the day. • In 2006, after rival Australian media firms consolidated their hold To date, all but six of NZPA’s staff have found work. on the NZ market, members stopped supplying reports to NZPA, Tourelle, a 15-year veteran of NZPA, told the BBC recently that it had been so NZPA staff produced all the agency’s content themselves. a “difficult” time for the news wire team. “[But] we’re going to have a very • April 2011, Fairfax announced it was pulling out of NZPA as it no competitive landscape,” he said of the new services. longer required the service. This loss of Fairfax funding effectively ended the agency. Paul Osborne is AAP’s senior political writer based in Canberra and has • September 2011, NZPA closed its doors after 131 years. worked for AAP for 11 years Rod Emmerson is editorial cartoonist for The New Zealand Herald
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The power rangers Paul Barry is making a list (and checking it more than twice) to reveal who is really running Australia. Illustration by John Tiedemann
ave you ever wondered who really runs Australia? Have you ever wanted to see how power works in this country? Eric Beecher and I believe it’s important to find out. That’s why we and the people at Private Media have started a website called The Power Index (www.thepowerindex.com.au), and hired a team of journalists to investigate. Every fortnight, The Power Index publishes a list of the Top 10 most powerful people in different fields: politics, media, money, law and order, culture and the country’s major metropolitan cities. Every day it publishes an in-depth profile of one of the people who wields that power – be it behind the scenes or in full public view – and explains how power really works in each area. Our first list, in mid-August, was on political fixers and factional bosses, such as Bill Shorten, Mark Arbib, David Feeney and Don Farrell, who brought about the fall of Kevin Rudd, plus Coalition powerbrokers Chris Pyne, Nick Minchin and Bruce McIver, who wield considerable clout on the other side of politics. Our second list focused on “Megaphones”, the people who shout on radio and in the press and do their best to rev up political debate. We could have called them shit-stirrers, tub-thumpers or loudmouths, because they’re the ones who create controversy, set the agenda and dictate the tone of our national conversation. So what makes The Power Index different from other power lists that have sprung up in the national papers? Well, to put it simply, we’re doing it properly. We’re not just doing a quick knock-off. We’re trying to create something that will last, and we’re devoting the time, resources, money and talent to make it a success. Each list takes six weeks of interviews and investigation to put together. We talk to experts in the areas we’re studying, and draw up a list of the people they think are powerful; then we look at what those individuals have done in the previous 12 months; then we draw up a short list to take back to our experts, before arriving at our Top 10. Throughout this exercise, we ask ourselves: Why is this person powerful? What can this person actually do? What has this person really achieved? We map out how power works in each area, because therein lies the key to figuring out who can really make things happen. Our political fixers list had a background story on union power in the Labor Party, because it’s the unions who have the votes and the money. We also looked at branch-stacking, the reasons for Labor’s precipitous decline, and the dangers of political donations leading to corruption. Sometimes, we’re finding that money brings power; sometimes it is position or office; sometimes it is contacts and networks. But those just provide the opportunity. Almost always, we’re discovering that the powerful rule by force of personality. There’s something special about them that makes them effective and allows them to exploit their position. As Malcolm Fraser, a former prime minister, told The Power Index, you can be leader of the nation and be “totally ineffective, if that’s the sort of person you are”. Whether they made our Top 10 or just missed out, Australia’s political fixers fitted a profile. They’re almost
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all men and most have huge egos. They can charm for Australia and do menace just as well. They work incredibly hard, have lived their lives for politics, and know how to network and deal. They never forgive a slight or forget a favour. But what power do these factional bosses really have? Can they affect what happens to Australia or are they just running protection rackets for their supporters? And how do you calibrate their influence? There’s no scientific measure, but we reckon that the fixers can make and break leaders – as they did Rudd, Gillard, Turnbull and Abbott – and determine who gets elected to parliament (by controlling the pre-selection process). In these ways, they help set a party’s (or government’s) direction. They can also do this by getting plum jobs in government for themselves and their supporters. With Australia’s shock jocks and high-conviction columnists, there is also no easy measuring stick, but we reckon they have shifted the national debate with their constant attacks on the carbon tax, climate change believers, asylum seekers and the Gillard government. As Kevin Rudd’s former press secretary, Lachlan Harris, told us, the Megaphones as a cohort are more powerful than ever. “So much of the political content people are exposed to today is not news,” he said. “It’s opinion. It’s changing politics and how politicians act.” Harris believes this proliferation of hyped-up opinion makes it harder for politicians to prosecute long-term reforms like the carbon tax and helps explain why they can be chopped down so soon after taking the job. I believe some shock jocks and columnists polarise and poison the political debate by rabidly calling politicians, scientists, academics and others with whom they disagree “idiots”, “dopes”, “liars”, “a disgrace”, “dishonest” and so on. You need only look to the toxic political climate in the US, whipped up by Fox News, to see where this might lead us. But I believe we are already well down the track. Alan Jones’s campaign of abuse against Julia Gillard, repeatedly calling her “Ju-liar” and suggesting she be put into a chaff bag and dumped at sea, is one example. His vilification of Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney, for building bicycle lanes is another. By this time next year, The Power Index will have 25 lists, covering politics, the arts, law and order, business, finance, sport, lobbying and PR. We’ll then pull them together into a Power 50, whom we (and a panel of experts) judge to be the people who really run Australia. We don’t pretend these lists are infallible, but we will give them our best shot. And if readers think we’ve left people out (or put the wrong ones in) we’ll be happy to hear their views. We want readers to participate, to make their own power lists and draw up their own Top 10. We want The Power Index to start the conversation, then see where it goes. Paul Barry is senior writer on The Power Index and a past Walkley winner John Tiedemann is an illustrator at The Daily Telegraph
Brave new whirl It’s a journalist’s dream: to create reports that explain the facts, free from commercial pressures. That’s why Monica Attard is enjoying her new gig at The Global Mail. Cartoon by Cathy Wilcox
f only cyberspace would drop a dollar in my pocket each time someone asked me how I’ll be paying my bills. It’s the inevitable question I get after I tell people my new “gig” is a philanthropically-funded, not-for-profit, global news website. Our mission at The Global Mail is to produce journalism far removed from the crazy beast of 24/7 news, and simply to offer readers quality, non-partisan information. Admittedly, that is made much simpler because we have no commercial pressures, either to sell The Global Mail content to our readers, or to sell space to advertisers. It’s a model gaining momentum in the United States, but it’s a luxury in Australia. We’re convinced we can give Australians a truly global view Graeme Wood, of Wotif and more recently Tasmanian of a global world… unencumbered by the need to push forestry fame, will fund The Global Mail. The online news site any political barrow or impress each other with fabulously will be one more horse in his philanthropic stable across the arts, medical research, education and conservation. shallow political coverage Wood will bring to The Global Mail his financial commitment, experience and proven wizardry in the digital world, and his enthusiasm for quality, independent journalism. He won’t be Not that the ABC escapes Professor Rosen’s attention. He is bemused that involved beyond that – and we plan to let the results speak for themselves. it promotes journalists as players or insiders in the political game of cat and We have some fiercely independent journalists in The Global Mail’s line-up: mouse. He thinks it odd in the extreme that ABC TV has an entire program dedicated to showcasing what to most would seem like a journalistic oddity. Ellen Fanning, Stephen Crittenden, Bernie Lagan, Gideon Haigh, Michael I would argue that this “insiders” trick is not confined to politics. It has Maher, Eric Ellis, Nick Bryant, Sharona Coutts, Mike Seccombe, Gordon Weiss, permeated business coverage, arts coverage, science coverage and sport, and Aubrey Belford, Rania Abouzeid and Sarah-Jane Collins to name but a few. dictates who the media turns to for information. We’ve come together with a common desire to do thoughtful, feisty, Finding a way out of this morass isn’t easy or assured. Many in mainstream inquisitive, quality journalism. media have tried, but it’s even harder now with a smaller pool of journalists Zillions of words have already been written on the subject, but indulge me expected to produce more across multiple platforms. They can perhaps be for a moment. The internet has thrown current business models of journalism forgiven for turning to the same decision-makers, politicians, economists, into apoplexy. Most intelligent consumers of Australian news and political arts administrators and others in the aforementioned “go to” zone to coverage across the board complain that, as a result, journalism has been either solve the problem. dumbed down, or lost down some dark tunnel where little makes sense to So I figure there is a very large space into which a group of top journalists anyone other than the players themselves. with a passion for brave, explanatory, nuanced writing can step. With the For Professor Jay Rosen of New York University, part of the problem is that politics is covered like sport or entertainment. I think the problem is more diffuse. dual luxury of time and funding, we’re pretty sure you’ll see a pleasing product. While we’re at it, we can experiment with all the tools of the digital world. Excepting the few pockets of journalistic excellence in our newspapers, We will produce not just long- and short-form written features, but also at Aunty and at the hands of a few journalists in commercial television, original photojournalism, and sometimes we will explain a complex issue almost every facet of Australian life is covered as sport or entertainment. by data-visualising it. When an issue is best explained by video or audio, By and large, international news gets a run if there’s a major crisis, or if we’ll do that, too. an Australian is involved. The lack of depth, context, nuance and explanation The idea of philanthropically-funded, public-interest journalism is new is deeply frustrating. to Australia. It’s a “big idea” that is deeply attractive to us at The Global Mail. Journalism should be about observing, reporting, contextualising and We’re convinced we can give Australians a truly global view of a global explaining: a means to set out the facts, analyse them in a non-partisan manner world – and a take on the Australian landscape – unencumbered by the need and dish them up via great storytelling. It should not involve tactics which, to push any political barrow or impress each other with fabulously shallow by design or not, wedge in order to influence. political coverage. In the newspaper world, a trimmed-down workforce and constantly The Global Mail is all about giving our readers a grip on the facts, a way morphing digital hovercraft have left mainstream journalists operating in two to make sense of the tripe dished up by politicians, economists and others distinct echo chambers on either side of a conveniently manufactured political with a voice in public discourse. Then our readers can make up their own divide. Within each realm, a few valiantly stay aloof. But there seem to be few minds about what they think. winners in this set-up. It’s hardly illuminating for the poor consumer, and Now, here’s a lofty idea: it’s an attempt to reclaim journalism. not exactly a winning formula for the industry either. Trust is low and profits (where they need to be made) are falling. Monica Attard is editor-in-chief of The Global Mail, launching in early 2012 The ABC, my spiritual homeland, weighs in down the middle, despite at theglobalmail.org accusations of it being packed to the rafters with leftist luvvies. But it pushes Cathy Wilcox is a cartoonist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald on, unfairly carrying the bigger burden of quality journalism.
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The The The The The
people chatter ceremony envelope silence
The smiles To all finalists and winners, we hope youâ€™ve enjoyed the journey. Qantas is proud to sponsor the Walkley Award for Journalistic Leadership.
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Resisting Ming’s warriors As Four Corners turns 50, John Penlington recalls that its early reporting was fearless, but ABC management was not
n 1961 the flickering black-and-white had sent me to Perth to shoot a story about the John Penlington (right) and screens in Australian living rooms offered hanging of Eric Edgar Cooke, a serial killer who crew in Hiroshima for Four little more than entertainment. Between the had terrorised the city. The assignment included Corners in 1964. nightly news and occasional documentaries lay other WA stories, but the prime purpose was untouched territory that invited occupation. to do the hanging story for that week’s program. Michael Charlton and Robert Raymond When an ALP backbencher in the Western took up the challenge: “Topical background, Australian parliament asked the WA premier to contemporaneous comment, helpful have the story stopped, ABC senior management interpretation was not just in short supply; issued a statement saying my appearance in there simply wasn’t any. And that was what Perth at the time of the hanging was “a mere Charlton and I wanted to provide.” coincidence” and the ABC had no intention of When they launched Four Corners in August running a capital punishment story at that time. 1961, I was 23 years old and a trainee in the It said the decision not to broadcast the story ABC Talks Department in Sydney, with four was based on program policy and not on the years’ experience in print journalism. The issue being raised in parliament. program was a rapid success: people were Ashbolt and I told reporters the truth, delighted to see ordinary Australians expressing against ABC orders to remain silent. We were opinions, airing their problems and having both removed from the program; Ashbolt often controversial issues explored. was never to return. Critical letters poured into In its third edition, Michael Charlton reported the ABC questioning both its programming on appalling conditions in the Box Ridge policy and the probity of its statement. Aboriginal settlement near Casino in northern It was clear then that our audience valued what New South Wales. Most Australians knew Four Corners had come to stand for in their lives, nothing of the squalid, unsewered camps where and the support was encouraging. I was allowed Aborigines lived on the fringes of country towns. back on the program in the new year. The public outcry was strong, but it would be After the launch of nightly current affairs another six years before Aborigines became with This Day Tonight in 1967, Four Corners Australian citizens and got the vote. moved steadily towards longer investigative The ABC in those days was a commission, reports. We saw the environment as an emerging run on strict public-service rules. Investigative issue and showed creeks polluted with detergent journalism that probed sensitive issues and foam from sewage treatment works, and raw canvassed a wide range of views proved sewage washing on to beaches. Then came uncomfortable for some of the commission’s producer Peter Reid’s scoop showing drums managers. Politicians had to adjust, too. of industrial waste being dumped into the Knowing the ABC was required to present sea off Sydney Heads. Ashbolt was removed from balanced programs on controversial issues, some In my time in those black-and-white days the program to his other duties for politicians would refuse to appear, hoping a story on Four Corners, I covered a wide range the rest of the year, though senior would be dropped. Some found flimsy excuses of stories – from tariff policy to Vietnam, for not appearing, then demanded a right of child car-seat safety, women’s rights, pre-school management assured staff this was reply. On two occasions they got it. education and even one report about “gangnot due to political influence Charlton and Raymond left the ABC after bangs”, following up a judge’s comments two years on Four Corners. I was lucky enough on the prevalence of rape. I left to become to be chosen to join Robert Moore and Frank Bennett as a reporter, under Allan an overseas correspondent at the end of 1971. Ashbolt’s leadership. Ashbolt stepped up the program’s analytical approach with By the close of the 1970s, Four Corners needed more money and a major his own report examining the significant political influence that the RSL enjoyed makeover. Fresh people were recruited, some from Britain. The pay-off came within the Menzies cabinet. Viewed today, that report seems unexceptional and with the blockbuster investigative reports of the 1980s and beyond: these many viewers thought it fair and balanced at the time. The RSL hierarchy didn’t. included a world scoop that exposed the sinking of the Greenpeace vessel One of the critics interviewed by Ashbolt was the editor of the Communist Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour by the French secret service, the Party newspaper Tribune: he had served as an officer in World War II and been an exposure of police corruption in Queensland, and many more. RSL member until the organisation expelled communists. Prime Minister Robert Fifty years ago we didn’t have computers; there were no mobile phones and “Ming” Menzies, who had failed in his referendum bid to have the Communist on location we’d call the office from a public phone booth reverse charge. Our Party banned in 1951, called for transcripts of the past 10 Four Corners. The story early sound cameras had to be mounted on a tripod. Cutaway shots were often became a political issue and Ashbolt was removed from the program to “his other taken with a small clockwork-driven camera. Yet those early days were truly duties” for the rest of the year, though senior management assured staff this was exciting. Everyone on the Four Corners team – reporters, researchers, producers, not due to political influence. The RSL was running a fierce anti-communist camera operators, sound recordists and editors – believed we were building campaign at the time and was also against any change to immigration policy that something worthwhile, something Australian viewers had come to value. would allow a quota of Asians and Africans into Australia. Ashbolt was given back control of Four Corners at the start of 1964. Late that John Penlington is a former ABC journalist and foreign correspondent year another row erupted, this time over a story on capital punishment. Ashbolt He was a Four Corners reporter from 1963 to 1971
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While the world was busy with other things Ginny Stein went looking for answers as to why three million Somalis are starving. Cartoon by David Rowe
rom nothing to 12 million people at risk of dying, all in a matter of a week. And then there was the mass exodus from within Somalia – the emptying of half a country across its borders into Kenya. But what had triggered it, and how did the Horn of Africa famine appear from nowhere to overnight cataclysm? How come the first I heard of it was a call on Sunday night from an ABC colleague in London, letting me know that the famine was all over the news there and asking how should we cover it. The truth is that the warnings had been there. It just seems no-one was paying attention, in particular the UN. The Famine Early Warning System Network first sent out an alarm in September last year warning of a hunger crisis. But it wasn’t until July 20 that the UN began an appeal and called it a famine. As the death toll climbed, the African Union announced it would hold a donors’ conference, but then quickly announced it would be pushed back to the end of August. When I asked Augustine Mahiga, the UN’s Nairobi-based special representative to Somalia, why the UN had been so slow to react, he told me, with weary acceptance: “We did raise it, but the world was busy with other things.” Southern Somalia is the epicentre of this crisis. By now, almost three million Somalis were either starving or at risk of it. The lack of response meant that tens of thousands would almost certainly die in the coming weeks. Somalia was the one country in Africa I had serious reservations about ever visiting. I have been to many areas of conflict, but Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu is the big, bad scary one. For weeks I spoke with a number of NGOs and UN contacts trying to make headway. UNICEF was trying to get to Mogadishu and I hoped to go with them. But there was no room at the inn for them, or me. In Mogadishu, the UN is bunkered down at the airport, rarely venturing into the city (and then only under armed escort). Accommodation is at a premium. Amid this humanitarian emergency, in which children have died in their tens of thousands, UNICEF wasn’t considered a priority. A military operation was underway, and security and political types had taken up the available spots. Flights were booked at least twice, but had to be cancelled because there was nowhere to stay. And even if we got there, there was no chance of being able to leave the airport. AMISOM, the African Union’s armed peacekeepers, were telling UNICEF they didn’t have the resources to provide armed escorts. AMISOM soldiers have been the front-line force trying to help Transitional Federal Government troops regain control of Somalia from Islamic militants Al-Shabab. Journalists had embedded with them in the past, and Al Jazeera and CNN were there right now, but the British PR firm hired to manage AMISOM’s media efforts didn’t see much point in helping a lone Australian: “Call back later, email me, can’t talk to you now, call back next week, sorry I can’t help.” With Mogadishu on hold, Plan B was put into place. Get to Dadaab in Kenya, the world’s largest refugee camp. More than a thousand people were arriving there each day from Somalia… Surely that couldn’t be that hard. But I soon learnt that the only way into the camp was to be embedded with an NGO. Security concerns, lack of accommodation, and the remote location meant independent travel was not an option. Save The Children saved the day. The organisation’s media team was gracious and attempted to ensure both I and colleague Steve Pennells, from The West Australian, were able to get to where we wanted to be, and report on the situation in the camp and not just on the NGO’s activities. But I couldn’t help feeling that I was being taken on a tour of picture opportunities. At Dadaab, NGOs control the space, the images and the story. Yes, I could meet new arrivals: the convoy would depart at 6am. Did we want to visit a hospital, meet an unaccompanied child, or perhaps a baby who had been left for dead by the side of the road, but then found and given a second chance? We had to travel in a security convoy at all times, and be back at base by the NGO’s 6pm curfew. International NGOs saving the day is a simple message, but the story of the famine is much more complex. To have a hope of telling that story, I would have to get to Somalia. The first opportunity for that was a daytrip – a one-day fly-in,
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fly-out on a UNICEF chartered plane to Dobley, a Somali town across the border from Kenya. Two hours on the ground at best, but better than nothing. Western aid agencies have been pleading for funds, but inside Somalia it’s not them that are reaching the people. At the feeding centre I visited, which had been running for less than a week, UNICEF was supplying the funds and a local NGO was doing the work. People who had abandoned their land, and in most cases had walked for weeks to get here, were being offered their first cooked meal in many days. But this was just a stop-off: they were all heading for Kenya. Two days later, I found a way to get to Mogadishu. Australian aid worker Tony Burns, a 14-year veteran with Somalia’s largest local aid agency, Saacid, offered to help me. As we talked, news broke that Al-Shabab was pulling out of Mogadishu. Timing is everything. If Al-Shabab’s withdrawal from Mogadishu meant a lull in the fighting, perhaps now would be the safest time ever to visit there. After a round of security briefings, I decided I’d go – and convinced the ABC to let me. But world events were working against me. There were riots in London and Libya was revving up. At the airport in Nairobi, I made a call to my boss – and was told my best chance of getting my stories run was to wait until I got back. I was being silenced by world news. Somalia and the famine had been pushed off the map. Right then, it was hard to feel much sympathy for the disaffected youth of Britain. I flew into Mogadishu and left the airport with Tony Burns, saying goodbye to aid workers who I knew would spend the best part of their visit right there, at the airport. For the next four days I was embedded with Saacid, which has worked in Somalia for the past 20 years. I visited its feeding centres, which kept the city alive during Al-Shabab’s four-year reign of terror. Over the next few days, various UN agencies would all claim those feeding centres as theirs. What no-one wanted to admit was that a week before the famine was officially declared, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had threatened to pull funding for the feeding program, saying it was no longer needed. And no-one wanted to admit that despite the best efforts, perhaps as few as 20 per cent of the almost three million Somalis who need food aid are getting it. I flew out of Somalia with a plethora of stories to get to air across radio and television. A timetable of sorts was laid out: a story for The 7.30 Report on Thursday night would start the roll-out… But again, the news cycle was spinning, this time in a more personal way, much closer to home – with the tragic deaths of three of the ABC’s own. Once again, Somalia would have to wait. Ginny Stein is the ABC’s Africa correspondent and a three-time Walkley winner David Rowe is a cartoonist and Illustrator with The Australian Financial Review
Don’t blame it on the BlackBerry Many in the media rushed to blame Britain’s riots on social media, but Sam Bungey thinks less subtle forces were at work. Cartoon by Matt Golding
s soirées go – especially those promising social network-fuelled mayhem – the so-called “Smash down in Northwich town” was a bust. Twenty-oneyear-old Jordan Blackshaw organised the event on Facebook as rioting spilled north from London on the night of August 8, securing pledges from 47 contacts to gather that night outside a local McDonald’s for some “lootin”. But as Blackshaw learnt to his cost, RSVPs no longer carry the weight they had in the Emily Post era. Blackshaw turned up alone to the McDonald’s, where police who had been monitoring his Facebook page promptly arrested him. He is now serving four years in youth detention. The results of the riots are clear: five killed, many hurt, hundreds of shops destroyed or damaged, thousands arrested and, as the judge sentencing Blackshaw described it, the memory of “a nation gripped by collective insanity”. But while thoughtful discussion of causes continues, many in the press were quick to provide a diagnosis: England was infected by social media. The Sun talked about the “Twitter riots”, The Daily Mail dubbed the BlackBerry phone a “riot tool” and many others played up the role of Facebook, while often neglecting to go into specifics. British tabloids were swift to finger social media as the root cause of the riots. By the morning of August 8, The Daily Express had decided the destruction was “fuelled” by Twitter and other social media. On the same day, The Sun led with a story that Twitter had been used to help orchestrate specific attacks on shops in the suburbs of Tottenham and Wood Green, quoting a nasty, though non-specific tweet from the account of UK rapper English Frank: “Everyone up and roll to Tottenham f*** the 5-0 [police]. I hope 1 dead tonight.” The offending tweet was soon deleted, and English Frank later claimed his Twitter account had been “left on and hijacked” and that he was being used as an “escape goat”. Writing about the Middle East’s youth revolts and so-called “Twitter revolutions”, journalism academic Jay Rosen cautions against those who come up with the clichéd line that “Twitter can’t topple dictators”. No-one in their right mind is arguing that it can, Rosen says, adding: “I think this is a dumb way of conducting a debate.” (Read his article at http://pressthink.org/2011/02/thetwitter-cant-topple-dictators-article/) And yet, in the case of the British riots, some did indeed assign a sort of super agency to social media, as if the tools themselves possessed strange powers and malevolent intent. After the night of trouble in Tottenham, the Daily Mail claimed: “Fears that violence was fanned by Twitter as picture of burning police car was retweeted more than 100 times.” A caption under the photo read, “Twitter riot: A red London double-decker bus burns.” (The Daily Mail acknowledged no irony in the act of publishing the image both online and in print.) Some in the professional media even appeared to condemn the use of social media as an outlet for reporting. In a Sun article headlined “Nail the Twitter Rioters”, the most direct claim levelled at Twitter was that “many tweets reported the specific locations of clashes with police”. In fact, though reporters did take to Twitter with brave on-the-scene updates and many users shared photos, footage and information on the movement of the riots, the television helicopters and satellite trucks were first on the scene to broadcast footage from many trouble spots. On August 8, the worst night of the riots, Sky News and BBC 24 kept cameras trained on the infernos in Croydon and Enfield, along with revolving footage of the most dramatic clashes between rioters and police. Jay Rosen says there is a simple desire to keep social media in the headlines: “Because the tools are still fairly new they naturally draw a lot of attention from analysts, journalists and headline writers looking for a ‘sexy’ newsy sidebar to the main event.” This, too, was on show. Under the headline “Facebook, Twitter Used to Spread London Riots”, The Huffington Post briefly referenced Twitter news-gathering
techniques and mentioned a detainee (in Scotland) facing a Facebook incitementto-riot charge. Beyond this, the article confined discussion to text messaging and the instant messaging service BBM, available only on a BlackBerry – the smart phone of choice for young Britons. There was more reasoned analysis to be had. The Guardian published data sets that showed Twitter usage at its highest during the post-riots clean-up phase. And The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph offered explanations of BlackBerry’s free, covert and efficient messaging service, and the policing challenge presented by the carrier’s use of remote servers and message encryption. Both papers underscored that BBM is a restricted instant message service, rather than a social media platform. Richard Allen, Facebook’s director of policy in Europe, told a parliamentary inquiry into the riots that Facebook was used to organise disturbances in only a few cases: “Literally we found a handful of cases where people were doing things
which were serious organisation as opposed to the good stuff or what you might call joke activity.” Also at the hearing, Alexander Macgillivray, general counsel public policy for Twitter, blanched at the prospect of a government shutdown of social media during future emergencies. “Even [the] police force is saying this isn’t a good idea,” he said. Certain elements would continue to misuse Twitter, he added: “It’s clear from any communications device ever invented that some people will use it to break the law.” Cutting through the mysterious forces at work during the riots, John Oliver, co-host of The Times’s satirical podcast The Bugle, put it this way: “There’s plenty of explanations [for the riots] on offer from TV pundits. Was it spending cuts? A lack of policing? Was it racism?… Was it the fault of BlackBerry phones? Or, was it – and this is the one theory I did not see posed on TV – was it because of arseholes? Did arseholes do this?” An investigation by journalists and volunteers launched in September by The Guardian, may offer insights on how police might better harness and monitor new technology in a crisis, but one hopes the search for causes is focused elsewhere, and that next time we may not have another barrage of articles namechecking Twitter and Facebook in the headline. After all, social media doesn’t orchestrate looting. Arseholes do. Sam Bungey is a freelance journalist Matt Golding is a Walkley Award-winning cartoonist; firstname.lastname@example.org
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Family feud at The Hindu A rift within one of India’s great media dynasties looms over a respected newspaper. Sukumar Muralidharan reports. Illustration by Peter Sheehan
he Kasturi family has run one of India’s great newspapers for reporting was seen to be at variance with the paper’s sedate image. generations, always taking pride in its unity, discretion and commitment Ram moved back to Chennai in the mid-1980s, halfway through the Reagan to public causes. Now it is a family at war with itself. presidency, and took up second position in the editorial hierarchy. Ravi replaced Based in the southern Indian metropolis of Chennai (formerly Madras), the him in Washington DC. family has controlled The Hindu for four generations, beginning with Kasturi Ram was the presumptive heir to the editorship held by a paternal uncle, Ranga Iyengar in 1905. But, perhaps predictably, there have been stresses within G. Kasturi, but he continued to be a rebel, taking up the cause of the Sri Lankan the group as stakeholders multiplied. Tamil insurgency and later collaborating with a Geneva-based correspondent The façade of family unity had already been breached in 1990 and 2003, but in a series of exposés on high-level corruption that left Rajiv Gandhi’s national in March 2010 an intense discord became public and has since resulted in a government tottering. bitter parting of ways between two family factions. The Hindu earned world renown, but its newly aggressive public persona The decisive moment came in April 2011, when the 12-member board of unsettled internal family equations. Ram was soon put out to pasture on the Kasturi and Sons Ltd (KSL), the proprietory company behind The Hindu, voted periphery of the family empire – minding the fortnightly magazine Frontline by the barest majority to appoint somebody from and the weekly Sportstar. The new regime under outside the family as editor. The minority directors Ravi and a second cousin, Malini Parthasarathy, THE FAMILY TREE made no secret of their ire: they petitioned the effectively controlled The Hindu’s editorial function S. KASTURI RANGA IYENGAR Company Law Board (CLB), a statutory body until 2003 when, by an eight to four margin, the that deals with corporate governance, and obtained board of directors appointed Ram as group editor-inKASTURI GOPALAN KASTURI SRINIVASAN a stay on the implementation of the decision. chief. Though Ravi and Parthasarathy retained their But the majority group eventually won in the respective titles as editor and executive editor of S. PARTHASARATHY G. NARASIMHAN Supreme Court. The Hindu, they were deprived of effective control. S. RANGARAJAN G. KASTURI In July, Siddharth Varadarajan, formerly The The latest chapter in the saga began in September Hindu’s Delhi bureau chief, was appointed editor. 2009 when Murali, the company’s managing director, NALINI N. RAM Varadarajan had joined the Delhi bureau of The moved to establish new rules on corporate governance Hindu in 2004 after many years in a senior editorial and managing succession within the business. N. RAVI NIRMALA LAKSHMAN position at The Times of India. Varadarajan, wellIndividuals within the family were feeling deprived of MALINI N. MURALI educated and widely respected, is a dual-national: any sense of ownership, and Ram’s imperious, often PARTHASARATHY his US passport was key in him being able to quirky editorial style was creating internal dissonance. RAMESH RANGARAJAN K. BALAJI give Indians a rare first-hand account of life in His pronounced editorial tilts were also attracting K. VENUGOPAL VIJAYA ARUN Afghanistan during the dark days of the Taliban. adverse comment in the blogosphere. There was little hostility when, in 2009, Though previously a cheerleader for the most LAKSHMI SRINATH AKILA IYENGAR Varadarajan beat more senior journalists to the job brutal faction of the Sri Lankan Tamil insurgency, of Delhi bureau chief. However, his elevation to in the last phases of Sri Lanka’s civil war Ram was the editor’s post triggered the collective resignation perceived as a full-throated apologist for a regime that (retirement in one case) of the minority faction had been credibly accused of war crimes. He was also in the KSL board from all editorial positions. seen to have put the newspaper’s credibility on the The minority five have underlined their intention line by sanitising reports and opinion pieces on the to continue as directors, pointing towards rampant corruption within the Karunanidhi political more boardroom turbulence to come. dynasty in his home state of Tamil Nadu. And Ram’s At the centre of the controversy is N. Ram, fascination with China meant that few staff dared the group’s editor-in-chief and the most senior mention the Dalai Lama, or the border issues among the fourth generation of Kasturi Ranga between India and China. Iyengar’s descendants. With two younger brothers, Murali’s initiative was premised on the norm that N. Murali and N. Ravi (until recently, respectively, family members would retire from executive positions Malini Parthasarathy (left) and N. Murali. the managing director of KSL and editor of at the age of 65. Under this plan, Ram would have The Hindu), Ram’s branch of the Kasturi family retired in May 2010, to be succeeded as editor-in-chief was the most influential among the four with shareholder interests in the by Ravi. Parthasarathy would have become editor of The Hindu. Other top newspaper. Murali had been Ram’s ally in earlier arguments over editorial editorial positions in group publications were to be assigned among the four control, but Ravi had taken the other side in both 1990 and 2003. branches of the family. Positions on the business side were to be reserved for Ram has been the public face of The Hindu. Assertive and imperious, he was those without representation on the editorial side. once a charter member of a radical youth coterie in Chennai’s colleges. One Murali claims the plan was agreed to in September 2009. If so, it proved an of his confederates was Prakash Karat, now general secretary of India’s largest ephemeral pact. In January 2010, Ram appointed three members of the fifth communist party, and Ram is often seen as being over-protective of Karat’s generation (including his daughter) to key positions in overseas bureaus. There political party. was, he claimed, not a “murmur of dissent” from the directors. However, three According to Chennai folklore, Ram sided with workers in The Hindu against shareholders – the children of Murali and Ravi – wrote a strongly worded his own family in industrial actions in 1967 and 1968. In keeping with the hoary letter to the board: “It is essential that the board considers issues of corporate tradition of Indian business families dispatching recalcitrant members abroad, governance and the appointment of family members seriously... The inequitable Ram was sent for graduate studies in journalism at Columbia University. He and arbitrary system that currently exists is not only unfair to non-family was later assigned to The Hindu’s Washington DC bureau, where his aggressive employees but to shareholders as a class as well.”
22 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
When the KSL board assembled on March 20, 2010, editorial succession was high on the agenda. Ram assembled a bare majority of board members to strike down Murali’s proposal that family members retire at 65. The board also appointed K. Balaji, a first cousin of Ram and Murali, as managing director. Murali was designated “senior managing director”, a title that barely camouflaged the effort to strip him of substantive authority. The split went public five days later, when the Indian Express carried a story headlined, “Battle for control breaks out in The Hindu very divided family”. Within hours, Ram responded on The Hindu website, announcing civil and criminal defamation action against the story’s author and the Indian Express’s editor and publisher. Ravi and Parthasarathy asked on Twitter how The Hindu could reverse a long-established group philosophy at the first sign of a personal affront to its editor-in-chief. In a later posting, Parthasarathy – one of three sisters who were the first women in the company’s history to assume active management positions – spoke of rampant misogyny within the group. Murali secured a ruling from the CLB, setting aside the changes on the management side. But Ram continued to control the board, and used that majority in April 2011 to push through Varadarajan’s appointment as editor. Ravi responded with a letter to The Hindu’s staff, seeking their understanding in what he said might “turn out to be a prolonged, phase of conflict and turbulence”. Ram’s refusal to honour the agreed retirement age, he wrote, had become untenable and his response was seemingly to take “all the editorial directors – most [of whom] are in their fifties – into retirement with him with a scorched earth policy to ensure that no-one in the family succeeds him.”
“In the recent past, editorial integrity has been severely compromised and news coverage linked directly to advertising” The paper’s reputation was being damaged, Ravi said: “In the recent past, editorial integrity has been severely compromised and news coverage linked directly to advertising.” The frequent public engagements of the editor-in-chief had also gained coverage in The Hindu “with a regularity that would put corporate house journals to shame.” Ravi’s letter of resignation in July was even angrier, referring to the “deceit, lack of probity and bad faith” that had crept into “dealings among family members on the board with a clique being formed through exchange of unmerited favours”. In a letter written at the same time, Murali spoke of his “anger, anguish and sadness at the horrible happenings” in the company and the “crude display of factionalism (and) vindictiveness… by various board members”. The paper faced “a very bleak future”. Parthasarathy resigned on the same day, condemning the “strong family jealousies and prejudice” that had “intervened to pull away” all her “editorial responsibilities”. Though The Hindu’s finances remain opaque, the newspaper group is under pressure. Advertising revenue is down, and the group’s after-tax profit is estimated to be less than a third of what it was in 2003. Throughout its century at the helm of The Hindu (the newspaper itself has been in print since 1878), the Kasturi family has remained loyal to its core business and resisted any intrusion into its autonomy. In recent years though, KSL has begun, with characteristic caution, to venture into the TV news-channel business. It is also reportedly sounding out external sources of finance, and would even be willing to sell a minority stake to a foreign investor. That would be a serious retreat from the family’s position over the years, but the few who are familiar with the company’s finances believe it is inevitable. The fragmentation of the family makes a strategic decision less likely than one made in a moment of pique. What this might mean for the future of one of India’s most respected newspapers remains a matter of speculation. Sukumar Muralidharan is program manager at the International Federation of Journalists. He worked in the Delhi bureau of Frontline magazine, published by The Hindu group, between 1991 and 2004 Peter Sheehan is a Sydney-based freelance artist; petersheehan.com
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
Terror’s other victims For Joel Simon, the war on terror has also been an assault on free and fair journalism. Illustration by Justin Garnsworthy
en years ago, the world was shaken when the World Trade Center towers collapsed after a terrorist attack. Journalists were concerned too – not just by the terrorist attacks, but by government statements that hinted at looming restrictions on the US media. The then US attorney-general, John Ashcroft, said that criticism of the Bush administration “only aids terrorists” and “gives ammunition to America’s enemies”. Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, warned that “all Americans... need to watch what they say, watch what they do”. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told television executives they should not air videos from Osama bin Laden because these could contain coded messages. Some of that fear has abated in the decade since September 11: there have been no sweeping legislative attacks on the First Amendment. Nevertheless, press freedom has been eroded around the world. Official secrecy has increased, and President Obama has shown himself to be a zealous classifier of government documents. The lack of federal shield laws means journalists find themselves pressed in the courts to reveal confidential sources – and face the prospect of jail if they do not comply with a federal subpoena. The US Justice Department has sought to imprison government employees for leaking classified information to journalists. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military has detained journalists without charge for long periods – and failed to properly investigate the deaths of 16 journalists from US forces’ fire. (Documents indicate, however, that the killings were not the result of deliberate attacks on the media.) Media blackouts and restrictions on allowing journalists access to war zones are common. In many parts of the world, journalists who are merely going about their jobs face anti-state charges or are labelled terrorists, and killings of journalists go uninvestigated. The statistics are telling. At the end of 2000, 81 journalists were in jail around the world. A year later, that number had increased to 118. Today, 145 journalists are imprisoned, most of them held on state security charges. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in 2010 the imprisonment of journalists was most often justified by the “abusive use of national security charges”. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, repressive regimes around the world seized the opportunity to further limit press freedom within their borders. The despotic Central Asian regimes in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan suddenly found themselves key to the war on terror; all stepped up their own wars against dissidents and independent media, using anti-terrorist rhetoric. Russian authorities routinely use the threat of terrorism to justify repressive policies and limits on the press in the North Caucasus. And Pakistan has given a free hand to its brutal spy agency, which has been accused of involvement in the murder of several journalists. Ethiopia has retained relative stability by repressing dissent and increasing restrictions on the press. Since September 11, the country has been active in US counterterrorism in Somalia, but Ethiopian journalists who report on terrorism face the very real prospect of jail. Anti-terrorism laws are routinely used to suppress information and to accuse journalists of giving a platform to rebel groups. Ethiopia’s government is also a notorious internet censor. Local journalists are not the only ones to suffer. Two Swedish journalists who reported on Ethiopia’s armed separatists were detained this year, along with two local journalists. They were held incommunicado and were recently charged with terrorism. Previously, the government made similar accusations against the Kenya-based broadcaster Nation Television (NTV) and Al Jazeera. In 2007, three New York Times journalists were detained for similar reporting. In Latin America, drug traffickers were re-branded as “narco-terrorists”, first by former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, and more recently in Mexico. This repositioning allowed governments in both countries to portray their
24 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Yemen has also silenced news and opinion on the basis of anti-terrorism. Reporters often face questioning, intimidation and detention efforts to crush the cartels as part of a global anti-terror campaign. Uribe even labelled his critics in the media “terrorists”. There are documented cases of journalists being detained, harassed and beaten by soldiers on patrol. For five years Yemen, which has instituted a near-total blackout on media reporting from the war-afflicted Saada region, has also silenced news and opinion on the basis of anti-terrorism. Reporting on Yemen’s counterterrorism efforts customarily result in questioning, intimidation and detention by security forces. Yemeni freelance journalist Abdulelah Shaea reported on Al Qaeda and ended up in prison. In Syria, CPJ research shows at least 11 journalistic bloggers have been found guilty of anti-state crimes under the emergency law in recent years. The actions of the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq have also changed the ways wars are covered. Although the embedding program that allows journalists to accompany the US military has provided new opportunities for coverage, it has also created a dichotomy between embedded and “unilateral” journalists. The latter are often viewed with suspicion by US forces. More than a dozen journalists have been detained by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan and held for extended periods without charge or due process. Al Jazeera correspondent Sami al-Haj was held for more than six years as a prisoner at Guantanamo and never charged with a crime. The US also bombed Al Jazeera offices in both Kabul and Baghdad, leading to the death of one reporter. These actions sent a powerful message to militaries around the world that an embedded journalist is the only acceptable way to cover their activities. The Israeli military, for example, denied the media access during their 2008 Gaza invasion. Journalists were mostly forced to cover that event from inside Israel. The Sri Lankan government used the same approach during its brutal final offensive against Tamil separatists in 2009. The absence of any independent media gave government forces a free hand, which they used to carry out massive human rights abuses, including indiscriminate fire that killed thousands of civilians. Ten years on, it’s clear that the anti-terror rhetoric developed by the United States has provided effective cover for the erosion of civil liberties around the world. Joel Simon is executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists Justin Garnsworthy is a freelance illustrator
2011 NOMINEES 56th Walkley Awards for excellence in journalism For 56 years, the Walkley Awards have been Australia’s highest media accolade. We are once again proud to acknowledge the achievements of our elite media. Our industry is undergoing times of change and challenge, but the quality of Australian reporting, photography and artwork remains world-class. About 1200 entries were received this year across all categories. If journalism is in crisis, that was reflected neither in the quantity or quality of the entries. This year we are proud to be taking the Walkley Awards to Brisbane – the first time the awards have been held there since 1999. It has been a big year for Queensland: many of this year’s entries have documented the floods and cyclone from which the state is still recovering. But Queensland is dedicating itself to the task of rebuilding - and the Walkleys want to be part of that story too. The Walkley Awards gala dinner and presentation at Brisbane’s Convention and Exhibition Centre on November 27 will be the culmination of a week-long Walkley festival of journalism. Other events include the Walkley Media Conference, featuring leading international and Australian journalists leading a full program of talks, seminars and masterclasses about the future of our profession. There will also be a series of training sessions and master classes, screenings of the Walkley Documentary Awards
2011 WALKLEY AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM finalists, and projections of the Walkley photographic finalists. For the full program, and booking details, go to walkleys.com The breadth and depth of the work submitted for the 2011 Walkley Awards shows that professional, ethical, innovative journalism is very much alive. This year there are a few changes and additions – most excitingly a new major award: the Walkley Documentary Award. It joins the Walkley Book Award (now in its seventh year) as one of Australia’s top prizes for long-form journalism. The Walkleys began in 1956 with a mere five categories – and enough prize money to buy a Sydney house. They were instigated by Ampol Petroleum founder Sir William Gaston Walkley, who had appreciated the media’s support for his oil exploration efforts and envisaged awards that recognised emerging talent in the Australian media. The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, which represents more than 10,000 media professionals nationally, remains the Awards’ dedicated trustee. The Walkley Foundation relies on the goodwill of an enormous number of people across Australia, both in the judging of the entries and support for the wider Walkley program. We acknowledge their vital contribution, especially all the judges and Walkley Advisory Board members who gave their time this year. The awards would also not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors, whose commitment to excellence in the craft ensures the Walkleys’ continued success. We are proud to present this year’s finalists and congratulate them on the outstanding journalism they have undertaken this year. They represent the very best in the craft of journalism and the spirit of the Walkley tradition.
2011 WALKLEY AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
DAILY LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY
Print News Report PROUDLY SPONSORED BY MEDIA SUPER
Philip Dorling, The Age, “Scathing attacks on Rudd” As the only Australian journalist with access to the WikiLeaks cables, Dorling provided a uniquely Australian perspective on a huge global story.
Mark Evans, Leader Newspapers, “The life of Riley”
Jason Koutsoukis, The Age, “Tobruk rises up but fear pervades” Koutsoukis did exactly what we want foreign correspondents to do: he got to the centre of the action, took some calculated risks to cover the story well and reported it beautifully from an Australian perspective. The result was calmly crafted words directly from the front line. Joseph Catanzaro, The West Australian, “Secret toll of war” A fine example of grassroots journalism. Catanzaro spent months wading through anecdotal evidence and secret Defence figures to paint a picture of despair and betrayal among Australian soldiers.
Scott Barbour, Getty Images, “A day at the races”
Stuart McEvoy, The Australian, “Cyclone Yasi – Maria Domandi”
Commended Richard Baker, The Age, “Bugged: Sir Ken Jones targeted by the OPI” Kate McClymont, Vanda Carson, Bellinda Kontominas and Tom Reilly, The Sydney Morning Herald, “Police finally swoop 13 months after kill”
Gripping “before and after” aerial images of two natural disasters told the story of the devastation in a way no other medium could have achieved.
Daily Life/Feature Photography PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NIKON
Mark Evans, The Daily Telegraph, “The life of Riley” Former champion jockey Brian York, who has traded in his saddle for a leash, was captured preparing his standard poodle Riley for a dog show. Scott Barbour, Getty Images, “A day at the races” Barbour’s focus on Emirates Stakes Day showed that, for many racegoers, a day at the races has become a day of entertainment and socialising. Stuart McEvoy, The Australian, “Cyclone Yasi – Maria Domandi” At 86, Maria Domandi bunkered down in her home south of Tully when Cyclone Yasi swept through, taking her roof with it.
Best Three Headings Rita Williams, The Sydney Morning Herald “Unarmed and dangerous: ADF warned of holes in its own defence” “Chew for IQ: pupils go in gums blazing” “Spying on the increase but the bugs don’t necessarily bite”
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Shane Brady, The Sydney Morning Herald “Mixed doubles rubbers put drains under strain” “Can you hear the drums, Fernando?...” “Farewell this unrepresentative swill”
Trent Dalton, Qweekend, The Courier-Mail, “Home is where the hurt is” A confronting and beautifully written story on the underreported issue of domestic violence. It gave true insight and highlighted the shortcoming of policies and policing.
Warwick McFadyen, The Age “Greens and leaks leave sour taste in Gillard’s mouth” “All a’twitter, the Hurley bird should have seen the Warne-ing signs” “Massaging the figures? Stats the way (they like it)”
Steve Cannane, Jo Puccini, Alison McClymont, Lateline, ABC TV, “Inside the Malaysia deal” This report, which gave insights into the negotiations behind the “Malaysia solution” and the UNHCR’s private discomfort with the agreement, was a turning point in the reporting of the asylum-seeker swap deal.
Coverage of Indigenous Affairs
Social Equity Journalism
Kirsti Melville, 360 documentaries, ABC Radio National, “The age of attraction” Melville tackled one of society’s greatest taboos – paedophilia – and emerged with a brave, confronting and ultimately compassionate documentary that was a genuine eye-opener. Commended Michael McKenna and Rory Callinan, The Weekend Australian, “Six degrees of desperation”
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Sarah Elks and Tony Koch, The Australian, “Model Indigenous college fights claims” The series of stories looks at allegations of exaggerated enrolment figures, bullying and mistreatement of students at the Cairns based Indigenous education facility Djarragun College. A great piece of investigative journalism. Kathleen Skene, Townsville Bulletin, “Family first” Uncovering a rort of a local housing charity, Skene showed impeccable research skills and old-fashioned persistence to follow through with the story until justice had been served.
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Peter Cronau, ABC, Four Corners, “Return to Aurukun” Cronau’s report focused on a remote Cape York community that has experienced every Indigenous policy Australia has produced. It presents a range of complex issues in a straightforward, clear approach.
Andy Drewitt, Leader Community Newspapers, “Carers in crisis” A beautiful and moving mix of video and photo, shot over repeated visits to a family. It brings viewers into the difficult world of carers and highlighted an important social issue.
Commended Sharon Mascall, ABC News Radio, “The big house”
Coverage of Community and Regional Affairs
Eleanor Bell, Ed Giles and Suzanne Smith, ABC, “Beating the odds” A compelling entry that marries superb documentary-style video, sharp text and interactive graphics to examine what’s being done to stop children in a disadvantaged community from falling through the cracks.
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Best Online Journalism
Matthew Liddy, Andrew Kesper, Jim Whimpey, Gillian Bradford and Katie Franklin, ABC, “Brisbane floods: before and after interactive” and “Japan tsunami”
Emily Macdonald and the Townsville Bulletin Team, “Monster” The Bulletin provided an unrivalled, rolling coverage of Cyclone Yasi and its devastating effects. Jane Bardon, ABC TV, 7pm News, “Inpex underestimates blasting impact on dolphins” Bardon’s reports revealed the potentially devastating effects of a proposed shipping channel on local wildlife. Her pieces
forced the Japanese gas conglomerate, which planned the channel, to modify its construction and minimise the impact on the local harbour’s ecosystem.
figures led directly to the resignation of Victoria’s chief police commissioner Simon Overland. The aftershocks are still resonating through VicPol and the state government.
Nigel Hopkins, Adelaide Hills Magazine, “Inside Inverbrackie” Securing exclusive access to the new Inverbrackie Detention Centre in Woodside, Hopkins presented both sides of a difficult debate. While understanding the local community’s outrage, he also put a human face on the detainees’ plight.
Radio Feature, Documentary or Broadcast Special
Sport Journalism Grantlee Kieza, Courier-Mail QWeekend, “The horse whisperer: Peter Moody and the making of Black Caviar” Kieza’s wonderfully descriptive journalism takes the reader into one of Australian sport’s fairytale sporting successes.
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Kirsti Melville, 360 documentaries, ABC Radio National, “The age of attraction” Brave journalism, showing grit and determination, that takes listeners to places they would never normally go: the world of paedophilia and child sex offenders. Fine radio with high production values.
Gerard Whateley, ABC TV and Radio, Fox Sports, “Neil Craig resigns”, “Dean Bailey sacked” Whateley used almost every form of modern media to nail two big breaking stories and deliver a measured mix of fact and opinion without a hint of sensationalism.
Sacha Payne and SBS World News Australia Radio team, “Two decades, too little, too late for many…” A thoughtful treatment of a newsworthy topic: the progress (or lack of progress) in the 20 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Powerful writing and interviews show little has changed.
Caro Meldrum-Hanna, The 7.30 Report, ABC TV, “Harness racing under scrutiny” A compelling report, built on months of research, that established a damning picture of corruption within NSW harness racing and systematic failures in policing the sport.
Katrina Bolton, The World Today, ABC Radio National, “Drink, death and dollars” Bolton takes listeners to Alice Springs to highlight the tragic extent of the drinking culture and the role of the liquor suppliers who continue to fuel it.
Commended Greg Prichard, The Sydney Morning Herald, “Betting scandal strikeforce to interview players from BulldogsCowboys clash”, “Tandy faces 5 years’ jail”, “Pool man surfaces in betting investigation” Ben English, Josh Massoud, Phil Rothfield, Christian Nicolussi, The Daily Telegraph, “Ryan Tandy: the first interview”, “Storm still rages”, “Estate agent arrest”
Commended Di Martin, Background Briefing, ABC Radio National, “ A dignified death”
Sport Photography PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NIKON
Adam Pretty, Getty Images, “2011 World Swimming Championships” Unique angles and alternative views of decisive sporting moments at the world swimming championships in Shanghai. Quinn Rooney, Getty Images, “Journey to the 2011 World Swimming Championships” Creative shots taken during Australian swimming’s journey from qualifiers to two amazing victories in Shanghai. Ryan Pierse, Getty Images, “Bondi bare hand rope climbers” It took five months to capture these images of the strong men of Bondi, who meet three times a week to scale Ben Buckler headland.
Radio News & Current Affairs Reporting PROUDLY SPONSORED BY ABC
Mark Willacy, ABC Radio, “Rikuzentakata tsunami” Gripping journalism from the heart of earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Japan that brought home to Australians all the tragedy and despair. Willacy used the medium of radio in an original and compelling way. Ben Knight, ABC Radio, “Tobruk celebrates freedom from Gaddafi” Starting days after the rebels began the fight to overthrow Libyan dictator Gaddafi, Knight produced consistently excellent journalism in trying and dangerous circumstances. His compelling coverage highlighted the rebels’ early euphoria and later difficulties. Neil Mitchell, Radio 3AW Melbourne, “The leak that finished the chief commissioner” Mitchell’s revelations about leaked internal police crime
Magazine Feature Writing
Adam Pretty, Getty Images, “2011 World Swimming Championships”
Quinn Rooney, Getty Images, “Journey to the 2011 World Swimming Championships”
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Annabel Crabb, The Monthly, “The story Gillard can’t tell” What’s wrong with Prime Minister Gillard? Crabb’s incisive, well-researched and thoughtful piece goes straight to the heart of the question that dominates Australia today. Christine Jackman, The Weekend Australian Magazine, “Caught in the net” By way of covert interview, Jackman went behind the façade of the people the Australian authorities dub “the scum of the earth”, people smugglers. An incisive and innovative investigation. Mike Colman, QWeekend, “Tree of life” Colman’s moving and creative piece investigating the origin of a memorial plaque near his home led to an extensive trail of discovery and a truly touching feature war story.
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Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie, The Age, “Bugged: Sir Ken Jones targeted by the OPI” It took great contacts, initiative, forensic graft and personal courage to produce the definitive story of the Victorian police watchdog’s secret phone-tapping operation against a deputy commissioner and government adviser. Matt Moran and Hugh Riminton, Ten News, Network Ten, “Kate” When an 18-year-old female airforce cadet told Ten that a fellow cadet had filmed their sexual encounter and broadcast it on Skype, the team handled the sensational story with sensitivity but tough-minded reporting. Angelique Johnson and Nick Harmsen, ABC Online, ABC Local Radio and ABC News 24, “Rann coup” Johnson and Harmsen led the national coverage with the revelation that SA premier Mike Rann had been told by his treasurer and a union official that his time was up. Commended Philip Dorling, The Age, “Scathing attacks on Rudd”
Ryan Pierse, Getty Images, “Bondi bare hand rope climbers”
2011 WALKLEY AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
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Mark Knight, Herald Sun, “Those beady little eyes” How hard must it be for a prime minister to work under the glare of her deposed predecessor? Knight combined an original idea with skilled artwork to make a sharp point. David Rowe, The Australian Financial Review, “Mini Murdoch” Rowe hit a hard target right between the eyes with his visually exciting watercolour image of the phone-hacking scandal and its fallout. Mark Knight, Herald Sun, “Those beady little eyes”
Oslo Davis, freelance for The Age, “Assange” Davis used blacked-out lines of text to create a clever and arresting image of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Commended David Pope, Canberra Times, “We’ve got to start early tomorrow, my dear”
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David Rowe, The Australian Financial Review, “Mini Murdoch”
David Rowe, The Australian Financial Review, “Budget 2011” Modelling, dolls’ clothes, drawing and Photoshop were all used to create an eye-catching summary of one of the most visually challenging days of the year. Simon Bosch, The Sydney Morning Herald, “The dark legacy of child abuse” Confronting, compelling artwork effectively conveyed a strong message about the life-long effects of child abuse on individuals. Mario Lendvai, The Australian, “Sydney-Hobart yacht race” Visual journalism in the form of a multi-functional, multilayered graphic that took readers into the world of yacht racing and explained how it works below deck. Tony Bela, The Courier-Mail, “Japan fallout” Bela’s nuclear fallout graphic and 3D rendering of the Fukushima reactor expained a complex subject without dumbing it down.
Oslo Davis, freelance for The Age, “Assange”
Sustained Coverage of an Issue or Event PROUDLY SPONSORED BY APN
Mark Willacy, ABC, “Rikuzentakata tsunami” A superb example of how to cover a huge story across many formats in radio and television. In difficult circumstances, Willacy displayed courage, creative flair and high standards of journalism over many weeks.
David Pope, Canberra Times, “We’ve got to start early tomorrow, my dear”
Jason Koutsoukis, The Age/The Sydney Morning Herald, “One man lights a powderkeg and Arab world is shaken to its core” Koutsoukis’s outstanding frontline coverage of a complex and rapidly unfolding story helped explain the reasons for the “Arab Spring” uprisings. Natasha Bita, The Australian, “Experts defend advice on vaccines” Bita chipped away at Australia’s questionable policy on vaccines to produce a series of stories that were newsworthy and of significant public benefit. Commended Paul Lockyer, ABC TV, “Grantham”
Newspaper Feature Writing Jill Baker, Herald Sun Weekend, “The big C and me” Baker tells the raw and powerful story of her battle with
breast cancer, diagnosed just 12 weeks after the sudden death of her husband. Informative and moving story telling. Pamela Williams, Australian Financial Review, “How AMP won the long war for AXA” Williams weaves an illuminating and informative tale of the boardroom battles and closed-door meetings that went on behind the scenes of the AMP and NAB fight for AXA. A model of how business features should be. Rory Callinan and Michael McKenna, The Weekend Australian, “Official failure leads to lives lost” Callinan and McKenna’s story was meticulously researched and compassionately told, bringing to light the failures of child protection authorities to adequately care for those on their watch. A profoundly important piece of journalism. Commended Paige Taylor, The Australian, “Detention misery cuts both ways”
News Photography PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NIKON
Craig Greenhill, The Daily Telegraph, “Christmas Island tragedy” A powerful image of asylum seeker Fatima Aqhlaqi mourning her brother-in-law Farhad Khaligy, one of about 50 asylum seekers who died when the SIEV-221 sank off Christmas Island. Neville Madsen, Toowoomba Chronicle, “Toowoomba flood rescue” Dramatic life-and-death images captured on January 10 as Hannah Reardon-Smith and her mother Kathryn found themselves caught in rising floodwaters in Toowoomba. Rob Maccoll, Queensland Newspapers, “Is that all you’ve got?” The roof was gone, the walls were gone… but the beer was cold. This image of life in Silky Oak, south of Tully, after Cyclone Yasi captured the Australian larrikin spirit. Commended Jack Tran, freelance for The Australian, “Baby Montannah with CW02”
Business Journalism PROUDLY SPONSORED BY J.P.MORGAN
Stephen Long and Mary Fallon, Four Corners, ABC, “Bad call” Long’s piece raises questions of ethical business and corporate social responsibility through a comprehensive investigation of a scam that cheated thousands of small businesses. Angus Grigg and Jamie Freed, The Australian Financial Review, “NSW Labor and the $1 land deal” Grigg’s story was equal parts powerful analysis and old-fashioned scoop. Focusing on powerbrokers and some of the wealthiest people in the country, the article prompted an ICAC investigation. Michael West, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, “Rio dumps record BHP deal” A behind-the-scenes look at the biggest business deal in Australian history, detailing conversations at the board meeting that decided the fate of the merger. West’s story was domestic in scope but had global ramifications. Commended Damon Kitney and Tracy Lee, The Weekend Australian, “The man who would be king”
Photographic Essay PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NIKON
Stuart McEvoy, The Australian, “Up to his neck – Southern Queensland floods” Strong and rounded coverage that captured both the magnitude and emotion of the natural disaster. Glenn Campbell, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, “Stolen spirits” Craftsmanship and sensitivity are evident in this powerful series of images, about the return and reburial of Aboriginal bones stolen from Arnhem Land more than 60 years. Jason Edwards, Leader Newspapers, “Circus Olympia” Behind-the-scenes shots captured the characters and way of life of Circus Olympia, a travelling family circus.
International Journalism PROUDLY SPONSORED BY UNVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND
Ben Doherty, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, “A journey that ended where it started – in despair” Doherty persevered over months to locate and build the trust of the Tampa asylum seekers who were sent back to Afghanistan. His articles highlighted the bigger human issues beyond the “stopping the boats” rhetoric. Yaara Bou Melhem, Dateline, SBS, “Syria: freedom’s call” and “Bahrain’s dark secret” Working amid bloody repression in two Arab states, Bou Melhem had to overcome dangerous obstacles, but produced reports that were ahead of global reporting. Fouad Hady and Geoff Parish, Dateline, SBS, “Breaking point” Hady went back to Iraq to investigate and reconstruct the events that had led to Ahmad Al Akabi’s journey to Australia and subsequent death in immigration detention. Commended Mark Corcoran, Greg Wilesmith, Craig Berkman, Youssef Taha and Simon Brynjolffssen, Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV, “Egyptian revolution: Salma in the square”
Best Broadcast Camerawork PROUDLY SPONSORED BY AUSTRALIAN SUPER
Geoffrey Lye, Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV, “Kenya: a place in the sand” Lye’s haunting images of refugees escaping the African drought brought tragedy to the television screen without condescension and granted the human subjects a rare blend of dignity and sympathy. Jeremy Ward, Seven News, Seven Network. “Murphy’s Creek flood” Working with the helicopter pilot, Ward captured the horror of a family trapped in their car in the floods. His pieces from the ground were steady and well-composed, but conveyed the fear, emotion, magnitude and danger. Aaron Lewis, Dateline, SBS, “Manhunt” Working alone as a videojournalist in central Africa, Lewis showed resourcefulness and integrity to capture the hunt for war criminal Joseph Kony. His camerawork was raw and commanding.
Television News Reporting PROUDLY SPONSORED BY HART SECURITY
Matt Moran and Hugh Riminton, Network Ten, “Skype scandal” The official handling of the Skype sex scandal involving an 18-year-old airforce cadet said much about Defence
culture. The reporting was sober, persistent and had profound consequences.
Erin Edwards, Geoff Breusch, Jeremy Ward and Luke Miers, Seven Network, “Murphys Creek Flood” In the chaos of houses and people being washed away in the Lockyer Valley, the Seven news team put aside the urgency of their deadline to help some people trapped on the roof of their car – and still managed to file a clear and compelling story during Queensland’s summer of sorrow. Hamish Macdonald, Network Ten, “Sendai search”, “Sendai impact”, “Minamisanriku – the town that disappeared” Macdonald delivered a compelling and moving account of the disaster unfolding in Japan. Understated writing, presentation and use of sound – including silence – captured the scale of the tragedy and desolation. Commended Sharri Markson and Lee Jeloscek, Seven Network, “Stoner feels the heat”
David Rowe, The Australian Financial Review, “Budget 2011”
Television Current Affairs Reporting (less than 20 minutes) Ross Coulthart and Mick O’Donnell, Sunday Night, Seven, “Rescue 500” A gripping and superbly paced report of how 28 lives were saved in the Queensland floods. What makes this story outstanding is the use of the rescuers’ words and video they shot on the day. Monique Shafter, Hungry Beast, Zapruder’s other films and ABC TV, “Trapped in your own body” Using patience and creativity, viewers learn the personal story of a stroke victim in her own words, though she has Locked-In Syndrome and cannot speak. Changes and challenges the way we think about disability. Fouad Hady, Geoff Parish and Melanie Morrison, Dateline, SBS, “Breaking point” This searing portrait of the life and death of an Iraqi detainee is beautifully scripted and provides a perspective beyond the asylum seeker/queue jumper clichés.
Simon Bosch, The Sydney Morning Herald, “The dark legacy of child abuse”
Commended Jo Townsend and Michael Usher, 60 Minutes, Nine Network, “Torn apart”
Television Current Affairs, Feature or Special (more than 20 minutes) PROUDLY SPONSORED BY BBC WORLD NEWS
Sarah Ferguson, Michael Doyle and Anne Worthington, Four Corners, ABC TV, “A bloody business” This piece was so powerful that the live-cattle export trade to Indonesia was shut down for a time. An outstanding example of how good investigative journalism can change an entrenched, unacknowledged evil. Ges D’Souza, Paul Lockyer, John Bean and Gary Ticehurst, ABC TV, “After the deluge”, “The valley” In the many hours of television about the Queensland floods, this entry stood out. The production team won the trust of the community to create a breathtaking story of loss, courage and hope.
Mario Lendvai, The Australian, “Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race”
Stephen McDonell and Robert Hill, Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV, “Dirty secrets”, “True believers” With a mix of cheekiness and compassion, the ABC’s Beijing bureau has produced compelling stories on subjects the Chinese government would prefer to remain unreported. Commended Ross Coulthart, Max Uechtritz and Gareth Harvey, Sunday Night, Seven Network, “The Lost Diggers”
Tony Bela, The Courier-Mail, “Japan fallout”
2011 WALKLEY AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
Investigative Journalism PROUDLY SPONSORED BY BAYER
Linton Besser and Dylan Welch, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald, “The untouchables: crime fighters let gangsters take the money and run” The investigation into the NSW Crime Commission raised questions about levels of corruption and secret financial deals between police and top criminals. The strength and determination of Besser and Welch in the face of attempts to silence them makes this series very significant.
Craig Greenhill, The Daily Telegraph, “Christmas Island tragedy”
Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie, The Age, “RBA held evidence of bribery/Who knew what when?” McKenzie and Baker’s meticulously researched series unravelled a multi-million dollar plot by the Reserve Bank of Australia to win global banknote contracts. The stories sent shockwaves through the business and government circles across three continents. Mark Willacy, 7.30 Report and ABC News, ABC, “Fukushima Cover up” Willacy pulled the veil from Japan’s largest utility, TEPCO, about its under-preparedness for the earthquakes and tsunami that rocked the country earlier in the year. He beat the world press to break the story behind the story. Commended Neil Chenoweth, Fiona Buffini, Hannah Low and Matthew Cranston, The Australian Financial Review, “Revealed: Inside Australia’s biggest tax sting”
Broadcast and Online Interviewing PROUDLY SPONSORED BY ERNST & YOUNG Neville Madsen, Toowoomba Chronicle, “Toowoomba flood rescue”
Ross Coulthart, Sunday Night, Seven Network, “Ricky Nixon” What was a high-profile AFL player agent doing on video, wearing just his underpants, in a hotel room with a 17-year-old girl? As Coulthart’s interview stepped through the facts in a forensic and compelling manner, Ricky Nixon unravelled before our eyes. A genuine scoop. Leigh Sales, 7.30, ABC TV, “Three Players” (interviews with Scott Morrison, John Hartigan and Mark Arbib) At the height of the News of the World hacking scandal, Sales scored the only interview with News Limited boss John Hartigan, gaining real insight into the pressure building within the media giant.
Rob Maccoll, Queensland Newspapers, “Is that all you’ve got?”
Tony Jones, Lateline, ABC TV, interviews with Christopher Hitchens, Malcolm Turnbull, Chris Bowen interview Whether filleting Chris Bowen on the Malaysia solution, teasing from Malcolm Turnbull what he “really thinks” about Coalition carbon policy, or talking life, death and Monica Lewinsky with Christopher Hitchens, Jones shows warmth, intelligence and a genuine spirit of inquiry.
Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NEXUS
Laura Tingle, The Australian Financial Review, “Liars and clunkheads fail budget test” Tingle goes behind the spin with a series of pieces taking a hard look at Canberra politics. Her forensic level of analysis makes the pieces stand out from the crowd. Jack Tran, freelance for The Australian, “Baby Montannah with CW02”
Michael Brissenden, ABC, The Drum, “Political hopes rest on millions of American dreams” Representing a cross-section of the political, economic and social issues facing America at the moment, Brissenden’s pieces are exceptional examples of journalism – penned from a combination of experience and knowledge. John Silvester, The Saturday Age, “Small fish, filthy pond”
Silvester’s weekly column, “The Naked City”, provides perspective and context on crime in Melbourne – standing out for its newsworthiness and depth of knowledge. Commended Adele Ferguson, The Age, “Murky world of Super Funds”, “Super fund of controversy”, “Gunfight at VB corral”
Walkley Documentary Award PROUDLY SPONSORED BY LINC ENERGY
The Tall Man, by Darren Dale, Tony Krawitz and Chloe Hooper. Go Back to Where You Came From, by Rick McPhee, Ivan O’Mahoney, Michael Cordell and Nick Murray Scarlet Road, by Catherine Scott and Pat Fiske Mrs Carey’s Concert, by Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond Prisoner of War, by Renata Gombac The Deal, by Sarah Ferguson and Morag Ramsay
Walkley Book Award The long list of finalists is: Abandoned: The sad death of Dianne Brimble, by Geesche Jacobsen (Allen and Unwin) Mahabharata in Polyester, by Hamish McDonald (New South Publishing) Witness to War: The History of Australian Conflict Reporting, by Fay Anderson (Melbourne University Press) King Brown Country: the betrayal of Papunya, by Russell Skelton (Allen and Unwin) Bells: The beach, the surfers, the contest, by Michael Gordon (Woolamai Publishing) Lazarus Rising, by John Howard (Harper Collins) Michael Kirby: Paradoxes and principles, by A.J. Brown (The Federation Press) The Party Thieves: The real story of the 2010 election, by Barrie Cassidy (Melbourne University Press) An Unwinnable War, by Karen Middleton (Melbourne University Press) An Eye for Eternity: The life of Manning Clark, by Mark McKenna (The Miegunyah Press)
Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year PROUDLY SPONSORED BY NIKON
Scott Barbour, Getty Images A diverse portfolio which showcased Barbour’s eye for the unusual. His photos captured the beauty and emotion of sport (tennis, cricket and a tearaway AFL shot), the alternative side of a day at the races, and the beauty of nature, even in the middle of tragedy. Adam Head, The Courier-Mail Head, who is based on the Gold Coast, showed himself to be a photographer who can think “outside the square” with outstanding images covering news and sport. Phil Hillyard, The Daily Telegraph Knockout sporting images, action shots and formal portraits – and a stunning image of a seagull snatching a chip – show an eye that is always ready to snap the unexpected fleeting moment. Commended Jason South, The Age
Journalistic Leadership PROUDLY SPONSORED BY QANTAS
Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism PROUDLY SPONSORED BY SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA
Gold Walkley PROUDLY SPONSORED BY THE MEDIA, ENTERTAINMENT AND ARTS ALLIANCE
JUDGES PRINT News Report Jill Baker, deputy editor, Herald Sun Julianne Schultz, editor, Griffith Review Tony Falkner, former Saturday editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Three Headings Mark Furler, editor-in-chief, Sunshine Coast Daily Petra Rees, deputy national chief of staff, The Australian Michael Coulter, production editor, The Sunday Age Newspaper Feature Writing Mark Coulton, managing editor, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald Christine Middap, editor, The Weekend Australian Magazine Ben Naparstek, editor, The Monthly Magazine Feature Writing Kirsten Galliott, editor, the [sydney] magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald Pat Ingram, editor-at-large, Women’s Lifestyle, ACP Magazines Des Houghton, journalist, The Courier-Mail Artwork and Cartoon Rod Emmerson, editorial cartoonist, The New Zealand Herald Peter Fray, editor-in-chief/publisher of Sydney publishing, Fairfax Media Jennifer Campbell, features editor, The Australian Photography David Sproule, freelance photographer Dawn Hillier, managing editor, Getty Images Yumi Goto, freelance documentary photo curator and consultant Kirk Gilmour, pictorial editor, Illawarra Mercury John Feder, photographer, The Australian RADIO Radio News Reporting and Current Affairs Reporting Brent Edwards, political editor, Radio New Zealand Alison Carabine, political editor, Radio National Clark Forbes, program director, Radio 3AW Melbourne Radio, Feature, Documentary or Broadcast Special Linda Mottram, editorial quality training manager, ABC Lissa McMillan, journalist, SBS Annie Hastwell, freelance radio producer, Adelaide TELEVISION Television News Reporting Howard Gretton, deputy director of news, Seven News, Perth Jonathan Holmes, presenter, Media Watch, ABC TV Cathie Schnitzerling, director of news, Ten Network, Brisbane Television Current Affairs Reporting (Less than 20 Minutes) Kerri Elstub, supervising producer, A Current Affair Morag Ramsay, journalist, Four Corners Nick Way, senior journalist, Network Ten (Perth) Television Current Affairs Feature or Special (More than 20 Minutes) Amos Roberts, producer, Dateline, SBS
Cliff Neville, freelance TV producer (formerly supervising producer, 60 Minutes) Trish Lake, freelance filmmaker
Broadcast Camerawork Douglas Ferguson, Canberra bureau manager, National Nine News Bruce Belsham, online editor (and former EP), Four Corners Helen Parker, senior video journalist, news.com.au ONLINE Best Online Journalism Edmund Tadros, editor, thewall.com.au Kimberley Porteous, digital editor, The Canberra Times Rod Savage, network managing editor, News Ltd ALL MEDIA AWARDS Coverage of Community and Regional Affairs Sylvia Bradshaw, managing editor, Gold Coast Publications Murray McLaughlin, Northern Territory editor, ABC News Bianca Hall, journalist, The Canberra Times
Stuart McEvoy, The Australian, “Up to his neck Southern Queensland floods”
International Journalism Connie Levett, journalist, The Sydney Morning Herald Michael Ware, CEO, Penance Films David Murray, senior reporter, The Sunday Mail Business Journalism Rose-Anne Manns, chief sub-editor/senior writer, Financial Review Boss magazine Ross Greenwood, business and finance editor, Nine Network Liliana Molina, journalist, The Courier-Mail
Glenn Campbell, The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age, “Stolen spirits”
Coverage of Indigenous Affairs Geoff Maurice, director of news, Nine Network Darwin Karla Grant, presenter, Living Black, SBS Ashleigh Wilson, journalist, The Australian Investigative Journalism Tim Palmer, journalist, 7.30 Liz Deegan, group managing editor, News Ltd Steve Pennells, journalist, The West Australian Sports Journalism Andrew Tate, sports editor, The Sunday Age Tiffany Cherry, journalist, Fox Sports Steve Butler, senior sports journalist, The West Australian Social Equity Journalism Ray Cassin, chief leader writer, The Age Rebecca Gorman, freelance journalist Mike Steketee, journalist, The Australian Commentary, Analysis and Critique George Negus, host and journalist, 6.30 with George Negus Russell Skelton, journalist, The Age Tess Livingston, leader writer, The Australian Broadcast and Online Interviewing Anita Jacoby, head of production and development, Zapruder’s Other Films Hugh Riminton, political editor, Ten Network Mark Ferguson, presenter, Seven News Best Scoop of the Year Jamie Walker, Queensland bureau chief, The Australian Michelle Grattan, political editor, The Age Max Uechtritz, freelance journalist Outstanding Continuous Coverage of an Issue or Event David McMahon, Opinion editor, Herald Sun Jim Waley, journalist, Sky News Kirsten MacGregor, presenter and newsreader, ABC Radio 612 Brisbane
Jason Edwards, Leader Newspapers, “Circus Olympia”
2011 WALKLEY AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
NIKON-WALKLEY PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
Scott Barbour, Getty Images
LONG FORM JOURNALISM Walkley Book Award Malcom Farr, chief political writer, news.com.au Danielle Benda, program manager, Perth Writersâ€™ Festival Deborah Cameron, Morning presenter, ABC Radio 702 Sydney Christine Wallace, journalist and author Peter Van Onselen, contributing editor, The Australian Dennis Atkins, national affairs editor, The Courier-Mail Paul Bailey, managing editor, The Australian Financial Review Matthew Ricketson, Professor of Journalism, University of Canberra Kate Eltham, CEO, Queensland Writers Centre Walkley Documentary Award Quentin Dempster, presenter 7.30 NSW, ABC TV Alan Hogan, freelance producer Dr Rachel Landers, lecturer, Australian Film, Television and Radio School Steve Warne, factual development manager, Film Victoria Anna Broinowski, documentary maker Jenny Brockie, presenter, Insight, SBS Liz Jackson, journalist, Four Corners, ABC TV
WALKLEY ADVISORY BOARD AND JUDGING PANEL Laurie Oakes, chief political correspondent, Nine Network (chair of the Board) Malcolm Schmidtke, former managing editor (business), Herald Sun Gay Alcorn, editor, The Sunday Age John Donegan, freelance photographer Peter Meakin, director of news and public affairs, Seven Network Hedley Thomas, national chief correspondent, The Australian Helen Dalley, host of Late Agenda and Business View, Sky News Mike Carlton, columnist, The Sydney Morning Herald Peter Lewis, federal president media section, MEAA, and executive producer, Landline, ABC TV Narelle Hooper, editor, Financial Review Boss magazine David Higgins, innovations editor, News Ltd Colleen Egan, assistant editor, The West Australian Liz Jackson, journalist, Four Corners, ABC TV
AWARD SPONSORS The Walkley Foundation would like to thank all of its sponsors for their continued support and for sharing a belief in striving for excellence. The 56th Walkley Awards are proudly sponsored by: Adam Head, The Courier-Mail
Phil Hillyard, The Daily Telegraph
Commended SILVER PARTNERS
Jason South, The Age
For more information on partnership opportunities with the Walkley Foundation please contact Louisa Graham, General Manager, The Walkley Foundation on (02) 9333 0945 or email Louisa.email@example.com
First, do no harm Kristina Kukolja was 12 when she left Croatia in the mid 1990s. Spending three months talking to survivors of the Srebrenica massacre last year raised buried memories and tough professional issues
hen the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) resumed proceedings after a summer recess, the most closely watched trial became that of former Bosnian military commander Ratko Mladic. The stakes were high, for this was the trial that could rewrite the grand narrative of the Balkan conflicts and on which the success of the ICTY may very well be judged. But for no-one (other than, perhaps, Mladic himself) was this moment in history of greater consequence than for those who consider him the grand architect of their suffering: the survivors of the siege of Sarajevo and the mothers, sisters, wives and children of the 7000 men and boys killed in the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre. In 2010, long before the first news of Mladic’s arrest spread like wildfire across the timelines of Twitter, and to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the killings in Bosnia, SBS Radio’s World News Australia aired the special, Echoes of Srebrenica. The story was anchored on the experiences of Srebrenica survivors now living in Australia, and as the official blurb put it, some were speaking out for the very first time about their ordeal. When the opportunity to work on this story first presented itself, I took to it with great enthusiasm. These were my people (so to speak) and my part of the world. Although it could in no way compare with what they had gone through, I too had traded the wartime reality of the Balkans for Australia, bringing with me what I considered standard memories for those who arrived in this country in the mid-1990s. Vukovar, Dubrovnik, Sarajevo and Srebrenica had happened in our backyard. All these years later, I would spend many hours with a handful of people who had gone through something unimaginably soul destroying – the likes of which even I had only seen on TV. It wasn’t so much the level of detail in describing their trauma (“Houses covered in blood”) that resurrected in me some very powerful memories, thoughts and even feelings of that other time and place, but rather the degree to which what had happened to them still haunts their lives today. In the time we spent together, as I moved between being “one of them” and being the foreign journalist, there were moments when I questioned whether I had it in me to see the task to its end. Let it be put down to an occupational hazard that journalists can often be passionate, opinionated, and/or even cynical about the stories we cover and the world around us. But, one would hope, sufficiently disciplined for it not to affect the integrity of our work. But what about that personal connection to a story – the manifestation of which may not be so conscious? How do we ensure it does not cloud judgment and lead the story astray? And what of my own prejudices? We all have them. For every journalist, one would hope, impartiality is the aim. It’s one in a package of principles in place to keep us on the straight and narrow. In a way, it underpins a call to do no harm – to our audiences, the people we interview, and even to ourselves. We are, all too often, and perhaps in greatest part for our own benefit, reminded that journalists are human, too. And it’s this element of our own humanity that separates journalism with integrity from the sensationalist and the agenda-driven. That allows us to distinguish between when to scrutinise and when to empathise, when to take the lead and when to step back. In moments when rogue thoughts dared to surface, I was gently reminded – let the victims tell the story. A simple instruction: trust the story to tell itself. Ultimately, do not try to be someone you’re not because it’s your personal experience that uniquely informs this story, and does so beyond just the cultural, political, historical sensitivities that need to be observed. I cannot stress enough the value of quality editorial support and guidance. I had it in the person of an unsung industry great, Lindsey Arkley, a journalist who inspires a commitment to pursue accuracy and context more ardently. Perhaps the most powerful things to come out of the experience of working on Echoes of Srebrenica was a greater appreciation for the essential role trust
Volunteers in Potocari in 2003 help rebury the remains of 600 Muslims who were victims of the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre. Photo: AFP
In moments when rogue thoughts dared to surface, I was gently reminded – let the victims tell the story plays when dealing with people who have experienced trauma yet are so generous in exposing their lives to us. While trust opens doors and makes room for you to ask the questions other journalists may not, it also defines very clearly which boundaries to push and which to leave alone. One of my greatest fears was that by asking the “survivors” to revisit the painful memories from 15 years ago, I’d only make things worse in the present. Some of the people I spoke to said they still don’t talk about “it”, even with each other. And here’s this journalist who won’t even accept an invitation to stay for dinner, but wants them to lay bare some of the most agonising moments of their lives. While we have an obligation to pursue all the facts essential to the story, we also have a responsibility to grant dignity and respect to the people for whom our presence plays a role in a tragic life story still running its course. Postscript: Some months ago, in the days following an incident at which a banner calling for Ratko Mladic’s release caused controversy at an AustraliaSerbia football friendly in Melbourne, I overheard a couple talking. “Someone should tell them,” said the man in a broad Australian accent, “not to bring that s*** to Australia.” They don’t. For the record, those banner-toting, Nazi-saluting vandals are usually third, or even fourth, generation Australians (of some exYugoslav extraction). Why do I say this? Simply put, our society is rich, complex and diverse, but also susceptible to dangerous misconceptions. At a time when this is, without a doubt, doing some serious damage to our society’s very fabric, stories such as Echoes of Srebrenica can play a role in helping all Australians gain a more meaningful understanding of the people who come to this country seeking refuge – and in doing so, help us gain a better understanding of ourselves. And this is how far our commitment to do no harm extends. Kristina Kukolja is a journalist with SBS. Last year she won the Walkley Award for best radio feature, documentary or broadcast special for Echoes of Srebenica
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
Shaken and stirred Staff at The Press in Christchurch each have a brick from their now demolished office. Moving back to the CBD will be another challenge, says Andrew Holden
now can make any city look beautiful, even a munted one like Christchurch (munted: noun, Kiwi for buggered, broken). In the decade I’ve lived here, it has snowed once most winters. At the moment, though, once just isn’t enough for Christchurch. We’ve had three major earthquakes in the past 12 months, so we shouldn’t have been surprised that this year would bring two huge dumps of snow, only a few weeks apart. They closed the airport, schools, and provided just another challenge for a newsroom too used to disruption. By the second dump, we had hired extra 4WDs to get reporters around, and staff to and from work; those photographers with their own 4WDs knew there would be no quibbling over petrol money. Nor could the snow stop the paper coming out, even if the delivery drivers had to concede that they just couldn’t get around the hill suburbs – the same ones they had managed to traverse in the aftermath of the quakes. We have lost an edition this year, but that took the man-made marvels of a complex IT system. Nature is still to stop The Press. The February 22 quake killed one of our staff and shattered our lovely old building (it was demolished in July). When I last wrote for this magazine, not long after that, we had just settled into our portacabin city at our printworks. We have since added another cabin for the most important thing of all – an onsite barista. With a company subsidy meaning an excellent brew costs just $3, and a reasonable selection of food, we are almost better off than we were in the old CBD. A key theme has been trying to help staff cope with winter in pretty bleak surroundings: on the edge of a semi-industrial estate, there’s a big arterial road on one side and, above, the roar of planes heading to the airport a couple of kilometres away. A team called the Smile Factory has organised a Thursday lunchtime quiz, barbecues and other events. Every staff member was issued with a free winter jacket worth $250, smart enough for interviewing and warm and tough enough to cope easily with a southerly storm. Sad as it was to see the old Press building torn down (our videographer cut a mini-doco of the demolition for staff to view in the cafe), it provided an unusual keepsake. The demolition company brought us a load of bricks from the site, so each person could take one home. To make sure we have made the right efforts, we had a visit recently from Cait McMahon and Gary Tippet of the Dart Center (for Journalism and Trauma – Asia Pacific). As I told the newsroom when introducing Gary, he was my bullshit detector, to ensure the platitudes were backed by real support. By and large, he and Cait were happy with what they saw, but there will still be some teams, and people, who need more help, and the importance of watching out for each other will not cease for some time. Chatting with a sports reporter, he mentioned that he’d heard that morning his house was probably going to be demolished. Though not too bad inside, the concrete foundation is split. He has a young family, but rather than dwell on his misfortune, his attitude was one of resigned determination: it’s happened, many, many others are in the same boat and plenty are worse, so you simply deal with it. That’s not a case of futile stoicism. When you live in a city where whole suburbs are being declared “red” and everyone in them has to move, wallowing in pity has no place: finding positives in a harsh reality is the best response. This is partly what drives our news agenda. We had heard from the New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune that, post-Hurricane Katrina, celebrating small triumphs – whether the opening of a cafe or a supermarket – was a fundamental role of a local media organisation. I think what is helping the staff of The Press is that we have a much clearer sense of our mission. We hear often from our readers, we still infuriate politicians, we dig deeper and deeper into the mire that is insurance and what it really
34 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
The old home of The Press, built in 1909 and badly damaged in the February quake, was demolished in July
When you live in a city where whole suburbs are being declared “red” and everyone in them has to move, wallowing in pity has no place covers, and we look for those stories that do show the city is slowly getting back on its feet. From an industry perspective, The Press’s recent success at the PANPA awards (Best Daily with a circulation of 25,000 to 90,000) was a huge boost for everyone. It is easy to be cynical about such awards, but to know that your industry is aware of what you are doing, and applauds it, really does make a difference when you face another day stuck in a portacabin with 30 other people. A further, challenging moment for us will come soon, when the CBD reopens and our brand-new building – the one we were due to move into just a week later than the February earthquake – is ready for us to occupy. At seven storeys, and with so many deserted sites now around it, that first day inside will test everyone’s psychological mettle. What has the past year been like here? It’s hard for outsiders to understand that the major quakes were just the start – and we have had three of those (7.1 on September 4, 6.3 on February 22, and 6.3 on June 13, each from different faultlines). There have also been more than 8000 aftershocks. I imagine that it’s a bit like living through the London Blitz: you know another hit will come, you just don’t know when or how big it will be. But it’s not all bad. I’m told the Kinsey Institute has calculated that Christchurch residents have experienced more seismic shocks than the average human will have sex. If the earth is not moving for you, just call; I’m sure we can find you a seat in one of our cabins… Andrew Holden is editor of The Press
Stop laughing, this is serious Lindsay Foyle says it’s time newspapers treated comic strips with the respect they deserve. Cartoon by Peter Broelman
artoonists and comic-strip artists often complain about the rotten It might also help if, during negotiations, artists pointed out that back deal they’ve been getting from newspaper editors in recent decades. in the days when The Sun-Herald was the largest-selling newspaper in the The way they carry on would be pathetic if it were not true. country, it had the best comic section in Australia. It’s bad enough that editors expect artwork to be almost donated, but Comic sections have played a large part in building newspaper worse is to come when the underpaid artists see the published version. All circulations in Australia for about 90 years. The Sunday Sun introduced too often the work, which they have spent hours producing, is reproduced comics in 1921 and, soon after, all the other Sunday newspapers added in miniature, and so distorted (morphed) that it is hard to relate it to the comic sections of their own. By far the most successful comic was Us Fellers original image. (better known as Ginger Meggs), which filled an entire broadsheet page. Computers have given designers the capacity to do this. Comics are Jimmy Bancks drew Ginger Meggs and, from the early 1930s, he was the distorted so that they will fit into areas more suited to postage stamps than highest-paid person in Australian media. On June 3, 1951 Ginger Meggs a feature most readers would enjoy looking at. It’s an insult to the artist moved from the Sunday Sun to the Sunday Telegraph – and 80,000 readers – and more than a little silly, because one of the reasons people read comics followed him. Bancks doubled his salary. Associated Newspapers and the is to look at the drawings, which are often more than half the story. Sunday Sun never recovered from the loss and were soon taken over by Stories are not printed in type that Fairfax. In 1949 the Sunday Sun had has been reduced to 5 or 6 point, or a circulation of 507,418 but by the squashed or stretched so much that time of the takeover it had dropped it is hard to read. Photographs are to 442,339. reproduced looking as close as they The Sunday Sun was merged can be to what the photographer with the Sunday Herald and presented to the editor. So why do the comic sections of the two it to comics? newspapers were combined. The Artists fear complaining. The new comic section contained many response – being dropped – can Australian comics, including Bib be even worse than the problem. and Bub, Fatty Finn, The Potts, Uncle However, the smaller and more Joe’s Horse Radish, Wally and the distorted the comics are reproduced, Major, Snowy McGann, Billy Koala the less value they are for the and Sandy Blight. The Sun-Herald newspaper. Readers do not enjoy quickly became Australia’s biggest looking at little squashed comics. selling newspaper. The problem of squashed In his 1979 book on the history and distorted comics is not of Australian comic strips, Panel by Comic sections have played a large restricted to Australia. It has been Panel, John Ryan wrote of The Sunpart in building newspaper circulations in happening all over the world, Herald: “Some of its success can be Australia for about 90 years giving readers another reason not attributed to its comic section which to buy newspapers. It might be a contained a reasonable percentage coincidence, but cartoonists point of Australian strips.” Brian White’s out the ever-increasing practice of distorting comics runs parallel with the 1975 book White on the Media asserted: “Most newspaper men would be decline in newspaper sales over the past 25 years. surprised how many readers buy the Sunday papers simply to read such Whatever the reason for plummeting newspaper sales, there is one truth features as comics.” that should not be forgotten. Newspaper editors and designers do not have Nothing lasts forever, however, and in the 25 years following the creation a right to treat comics with disrespect. Yes, the newspaper does acquire the of The Sun-Herald most of the original Australian comics disappeared legal right to reproduce the comic. But that is not a right to morph, distort as their artists retired or died. The Sun-Herald’s comic section has been or reduce it beyond what was originally intended. downgraded on numerous occasions. A fall in circulation has followed every According to arts law (in a verbal briefing), two separate rights are time. Is it coincidental or related? There is more than enough evidence to involved when freelance contributors sell artwork to newspapers for claim there is some correlation. As that was happening at The Sun-Herald, reproduction: copyright and moral rights. The Sunday Telegraph’s comic section was being improved – and the paper The copyright usage does not come uninhibited; it comes with an overtook The Sun-Herald and now way outsells it. obligation for the newspaper to treat the work with respect. Respect is not Comics are not just a collection of little drawings with words. They are just using the artist’s name; it also includes the unwritten expectation that individual continuity features that give readers a reason to buy the paper, the artwork will be used as it was intended to be used. In other words, not regardless of the quality of the day’s news. They also entertain and extend morphed, reduced or enlarged beyond what was intended by the artist the imagination – and people of all ages enjoy them, which is something the who created the work. film industry has capitalised on by turning many comic heroes into The same points are reflected in the moral rights. Moral rights are often blockbuster films. neglected, but the advice given was these rights are not something that Comics may be funny, but they should not be treated as a joke. under the law can be negotiated away or sold. However, editors get miffed when told that they do not understand what Lindsay Foyle is a former deputy editor of The Bulletin and a past president they are talking about – especially as none of these points has been tested in of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association court. The best approach for freelance contributors would be to negotiate Peter Broelman is a syndicated editorial cartoonist published across about how the artwork is to be used when it is being offered to a newspaper. Australia
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The solution is zoo-logical Tim Vaughan sees subeditors as metaphorical cows, dumping shit on young reporters to grow better prose. Cartoon by Judy Horacek
A pack of howlers Here is a fabulous lead paragraph from a now-defunct weekly lifestyle section in a capital city daily: “Icon must be one of the most overused words in the English language.” It stood out as self-evident, self-referential given the usually breathless tone of the section, and without a hint of irony. In a cack-handed way, it identified a broad malaise. We have to be on the lookout for sloth words, on which overworked and underskilled contributors (and, sadly, staff writers) rely – and weasel words, which the urgers and marketers they quote use with abandon. We have a lovely, precise, evolving language with scores of thousands of words in everyday use, so can we have a think about livelier alternatives to the common snaky-shorthand words we find used lazily in copy? Among the examples that really get my goat are: Icon and legend. Why? See above. Alternatives: hero, mainstay, staple,
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First published in The Age
he editor’s brief for this piece was, “Tell us about subbing and the howlers that keep coming up.” So I’ve stuck my neck out (living in glass houses and all that) to cite the examples below and no more – you don’t want a full page of a sub banging on about style. Yet there’s a lot to ponder about subbing; it’s not just about running the spell check, cutting from the bottom and swearing. How to sub involves knowing how to write in the first place. We need good examples and shared experience. How does that happen? Let’s use an animal theme with a barnyard parable. A headstrong sparrow refuses to migrate before winter. It is hungry, freezing and set to expire in the mud when a cow drops an enormous pat on it. Warmed, protected and nourished, it survives until spring. The moral: he who puts shit on you is not necessarily your enemy. And here’s a newsroom parallel: Young reporters who can’t yet cut to the chase – and seasoned hacks that might be too close to the story – file copy that is turgid, prolix and not fabulously grammatical. The metaphorical cow: the subeditor. The sub was the bloke to fear in my early days in the barnyard. There was nothing more likely to chill the gizzards than a tweedy character materialising at my desk in the old Herald newsroom at Broadway, brandishing a fistful of my copy and explaining its numerous shortcomings. One such chap, a Yorkshire version of Hagar the Horrible with flaming red hair and beard, preferred to slap it down on the desk as he explained its departures from style. His customary parting advice was not to file such rubbish again. Another gun sub liked to slide off the paperclip, read and summarise each sheet with an expletive, reassemble the story and rewrite it in copperplate longhand to send to “the stone”, the composing floor. Then there were the high priests who occupied a corner office behind low glass walls. A summons to attend there meant your yarn was destined for page one or you were in for a bollocking. It was not a place for dramatic gestures or strong language. But four decades on I can still feel the sting of having a long-forgotten story described as “half-arsed”. Who would have thought to call this mentoring? Yet it surely was. Abrasiveness and candour still have their place in the animal enclosure I’m working in now, among the silverbacks in sport. Yet the pressures of deadlines (which despite all of our techno advances are getting ever earlier; go figure) and modern corporate culture deny us the means of turning up at someone’s desk and giving them a constructive spray. The writer and the sub are going to be in different newsrooms, cities and, before too long, time zones.
How to sub involves knowing how to write in the first place. We need good examples and shared experience example, prototype... you get the drift. Offer. A word favoured by real estate agents and car dealers – and their myrmidons among contributors. Perfectly good alternatives include: (noun) deal, discount, promotion; (verb) have, sell, give, provide. Traditional. What isn’t traditional these days? Anything less than six months old. Frequently the word is abused by the folks who use “offer”, plus architects, politicians and those with limited vocabularies who can’t conjure up alternatives such as: usual, regular, ordinary, conventional, customary. Sees. If ever there was a verb that needed R&R, it would be “see”. The most amazing things “see” the most astonishing developments. Across. Ditto this poor overworked preposition. ...-based. This makes me pig-biting mad. A true J-Arthur-Rank word, which writers use to sound hip and global. It also may indicate the writer thinks the reader is as lazy as him/herself and can’t pick things up from context. If an Arabic sweet shop is in Auburn, let’s just say so. Locals and non-locals alike will go there yet some writers must have “Auburn-based”. If a sweet shop or IT conglomerate is interstate or overseas, let’s just say that. Style book. There is a style book and, most likely, an online version, almost invariably flawed. There won’t be an exam but can everyone please get familiar with both. An updated style book is said to be under way (NB! Two words, and there’s always a style book revision, no matter where you’re working). But don’t hold your breath. And in keeping with the schoolmaster tone of the above: the next sub to let through “confectionary” (a group of sweets is confectionery with an “e”) will be named. Tim Vaughan is the masthead chief of Cars Guide Judy Horacek is a freelance cartoonist; horacek.com.au
A kick in the right direction The media finally got some points in women’s sport with its coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, says Pete Smith
aving blanket media coverage of the FIFA World Cup in Europe’s biggest football market might seem unremarkable. But when it’s the FIFA Women’s World Cup held in Germany a few months back, such a quantity and quality of reporting would have previously been unimaginable. It’s just a touch over 40 years since the German Football Association lifted a ban on female football, which they considered “ill-suited to women’s physical capacity”. Fast-forward to July 2011 and a newly arrived visitor looking at the vast array of print and electronic media would think that women’s football is the national sport. Germany may no longer be the women’s world champions – that honour went to Japan, the sentimental favourites in the wake of March’s tragic earthquake – but off the pitch the Europeans are surely world football leaders. The impeccably organised tournament was enthusiastically covered by Germany’s vast media network and the tournament’s success has helped recalibrate perceptions of the female game. The level of media attention was striking, from morning TV chat shows to live crosses on the evening news, from high-brow broadsheets to notorious tabloid Bild (which invariably took the glamour or gossip route). By tournament’s end, Frankfurt’s Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper even headed coverage of the looming Bundesliga season as “men’s football”. Germany’s respected bi-weekly football magazine, Kicker, dedicated an entire issue to previewing the Women’s World Cup tournament. It sold out both in terms of advertising and on the shelves, with typical readership being 97 per cent male. The tournament final became the most tweeted event in the five-year history of Twitter. That’s right, not the royal wedding, the death of Osama Bin Laden or Japan’s devastating natural disaster, but a women’s football match. Bild recognised the tournament as a watershed moment. “Women’s football is finally accepted by the masses,” it stated in an editorial following the shock quarter-final exit of the host nation, and reigning champions, against Japan. Then again, it is hard to argue with an average television viewing audience of 17 million for the match, a figure which unthinkably out-rated the German men’s World Cup contest against Serbia last year in South Africa.
The tournament final became the most tweeted event in the five-year history of Twitter
Comparing apples with egos Critics of women’s football usually use words such as slow, boring and unskilful. Unquestionably women’s football is slower than the men’s equivalent, but women’s tennis with its longer rallies disproves the notion that pace somehow equates to instant superiority. Part of the beauty of women’s football lies in its players approaching the game with “purity and honesty”, as Australia’s women’s coach Tom Sermanni calls it. The 2011 Women’s World Cup was almost entirely free of histrionics, rampant ego and referee abuse. Players happily co-existed at the same hotels as their rivals, mingled with fans and created a family atmosphere in the stadiums. You could compare Japan’s Azusa Iwashimizu’s accepting reaction to a lastminute red card in the final against USA, to the poor sportsmanship on display throughout the men’s equivalent between Spain and the Netherlands last year. The rancour from the vanquished Dutch carried on after the final whistle. In contrast, this is what the USA’s star striker, Abby Wambach, said just minutes after losing the women’s final in heartbreaking fashion: “This is very tough for us to take because we came so close, though I think that Japan have suffered so much and needed to win more than we did. I’d like to think that this win can bring a little hope and joy to the Japanese people.”
The FIFA Women’s World Cup was enthusiastically covered by Germany’s media. Here a TV cameraman films the France v. Nigeria match on June 26. (LOC 2011/Kunz)
Germany’s impressive television figures were mirrored in nations such as the USA, Japan, Sweden and perhaps most peculiarly, France. The French men’s team were invariably met with what could be termed Gallic indifference until they became world champions on home soil in 1998. The efforts of its women’s team, Les Bleues, in reaching the semi-finals at Germany 2011, made for a similar breakthrough moment. L’Equipe, France’s seminal sports daily newspaper, even devoted a front page to “France’s newest national team” during the Tour de France. Just 12 months ago, women footballers across the globe were undoubtedly resigned to their achievements being reduced to bite-sized mentions in all forms of media. Just prior to the Socceroos’ underwhelming showing in South Africa, Australia’s women’s soccer team, the Matildas, had been crowned Asian champions. On their return to Australia, the Matildas’ skipper, Melissa Barbieri, called for greater parity and recognition in the media for her team. The response was unsurprisingly modest although it did elicit one or two “nothing wrong with the status quo” opinion pieces. But Barbieri would surely have been delighted by what ensued a year later. There were 3000 media accredited for the Women’s World Cup in Germany, including 200 from ESPN in the United States. Our Aussie captain might not be a household name just yet, but in Germany new local heroes such as Kim Kulig and Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi are now part of a changing sporting lexicon. Pete Smith is a freelance journalist covering women’s football for FIFA.com, Australian Associated Press and a variety of football publications
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BLACK SATURDAY LINGERS ON
Photographer Jason Edwards packed cheese and biscuits to chronicle the realities of life after Black Saturday
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t’s not easy turning up to a home – even if it’s a leaky old caravan – and asking if you can interrupt the family’s lives to document their misfortune. Not long after I started working in the fire-affected areas of north-east Melbourne, I met Andrew Derwent and Leanne Klammer, whose home had burnt to the ground on Black Saturday. Their Kinglake property was just one of many fire-scarred blocks with little more than a few tree stumps and a collection of borrowed and bought caravans joined together with tarps on the spot. The first time I sat down with the couple, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that Leanne and Andrew, both State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers, were among the first on the scene to find the bodies of
friends and neighbours. I had braced myself for stories of loss and anguish, but instead they told me tales of luck and survival. It was pure fluke that the family had been off the mountain on February 7, 2009, when fire swept through the town. Reading between the lines there was a sense of survivor guilt in their recollections – that they had survived when so many they knew had not been so lucky. I took along an armful of cheese and biscuits to help break the ice. Sitting in their cramped, makeshift home, the food made it easier for us to talk as friends. Having spent months photographing not just the Klammers but other fire-affected families, I know it’s important to be
“Even though it’s got a lot of bad memories, it’s got a lot of good ones as well”
both interested and interesting, and to find common ground. But don’t try to empathise with someone’s situation because you can never really understand what they have been through. If your intentions aren’t genuine, people will see right through you. Over a number of nights, sleeping in a spare van on their property, I photographed the couple and Leanne’s children, Louise, 18, Alex, 15, and Nick, 13, as they went about their daily routines – watching television, studying, ironing clothes and eating dinner – all while the mercury dipped as low as minus 4 degrees. The temperature made every task a battle. The article [by Diamond Valley Leader reporter Raelene Morey] that accompanied my photographs
told the story of time-wasting building assessments, and contractors who had refused to travel to rebuild homes in Kinglake. The Klammers were one of many families who were still living in temporary accommodation 18 months after the fires had destroyed their homes. Their faces told the real tale: a family who, despite the bleakness of their situation, were optimistic and accepting. As Andrew put it: “Even though it’s got a lot of bad memories, it’s got a lot of good ones as well.” Jason Edwards is a photographer with the Diamond Valley Leader. This photo essay won “Best in Show” at the recent Walkley Melbourne Slide Night
Opposite page, top: The family’s encampment of caravans and tarpaulins on their fire-scarred Kinglake property. On winter nights, the temperature is often below freezing This page, top: Leanne Klammer gets stuck into some ironing Above, from far left: Alex Klammer, 15, walks the family dog; Louise and Alex at the entrance to one of the vans; the three teenagers watch television; Andrew Derwent shaves outside; the makeshift bathroom; family members gather for dinner. Despite the difficulties, the family were optimistic and uncomplaining
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Playing with the facts Video games based on the September 11 aftermath, Somali pirate attacks and the crisis in Darfur are the start of a new frontier in journalism, says Skye Doherty
hen Scott Carney pitched a feature story about the economics of piracy to Wired in 2009, a video game wasn’t part of his plan. But the magazine came back with an idea to tell the story using formulas, and the layout inspired the team at Wired.com to develop a game. Cutthroat Capitalism puts the player in the position of a Somali pirate captain. He needs to make decisions about which ships to capture, how much ransom to request and how to treat the crew of the captured ship. His negotiation skills determine whether a ransom is paid or if the pirate crew is forced to flee. “There were a couple ways that we could have gone with the pirate story,” says Carney. “It could have been a feature where I travelled to Somalia and met pirates, found hostages and talked to kidnapped people. But so many mags were already making great coverage of that type.” It was the challenge of telling a story through formulas that appealed to Carney, although he found the process “very difficult intellectually”. “It is very difficult to tell a feature story with equations... I did a ton of interviews that never saw the light of day because of the format.” Using games to tell news stories forces journalists to think and work in radically different ways. But these rich, non-linear narratives have the potential to push storytelling in new directions and engage audiences more deeply. Video games are one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global media industry, and there is a growing notion that games, like journalism, can be used for the public benefit.
“The number one rule has to be to tell a journalistic story... the game has to add a layer of understanding” Serious games, such as September 12th, Madrid and Darfur is Dying, are based on news events: the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the Madrid bombings and the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Projects such as World Without Oil aim to encourage debate and find solutions to peak oil. These “newsgames” are not games in the traditional sense – there are no levels and often you can’t win – but they show how game mechanisms can be used to encourage engagement in social and political issues. The journalism often exists in the system the game describes or the results of certain actions. Philip Trippenbach of citizen journalism agency Citizenside says this is what gives games the edge over traditional narratives. “Stories are very good at relating events, whereas it’s extremely important to understand systems. And the best way to learn how a system works is by interacting with it, by playing with it.” Shannon Perkins, Wired.com’s editor of interactive news technologies, spent 400 hours on Cutthroat Capitalism. He stopped all other projects during the four to six weeks he worked on it and describes the job as “rewarding but intensive”. “It is a strong illustration of the principles discussed in the story,” he says. “As you play it you get the sense of what was at stake, what the consequences of actions are. It seems to me that this happens on an emotional level.” Pamela Statz, who until December last year was Wired.com’s managing editor, oversaw the project. She considers it one of the highlights of her time there, but says it is not something her team could have produced regularly. “Doing a project like this once in a while is great, it is a rare opportunity for us to do something really in depth... but there is no way we can do something like this on a month-to-month basis.” She says Perkins’ “huge” range of skills made the project possible, but normally it would require three or four people, which increases costs. “It should have cost 10 times what we were able to pay Shannon.”
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Opening instructions for newsgame September 12th, developed by newsgaming.com
But while cost and a lack of skills are two hurdles to incorporating games into news production, changing newsroom culture is a bigger challenge. Paul Egglestone, digital co-ordinator at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication at the UK’s University of Central Lancashire, says newsrooms are a long way from being able to produce games-based news. “Deadline and story-driven newsroom culture won’t support this level of creativity,” he says. “It’s not just about skills... it’s about how relationships and roles are defined. And it’s about how the public face of the news organisation interacts with its new audience. The game is just another content output.” Steffen Walz, director of RMIT’s new Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory (GEElab), thinks newsgames are a “cool direction” but to make them viable, journalists will need to start seeing themselves as producers, rather than writers. These journalists will need training in multimedia and game design. Walz says games are an important platform. “They are instilling themselves in the continuum of everyday life.” But he says it is also important for a newsroom to know how they will measure success. “What do you get out of it? More subscribers? Is it an integral part of what you do?” Audiences are increasingly incorporating new platforms into their lives. A survey last year by the Pew Research Center for People & the Press identified a shift in the way people used technology. It showed that rather than abandoning old forms in favour of new ones, audiences were exploiting new platforms to interact with information in new ways. They were also consuming more news. At the heart of a good game is a good story, and John Welsh, who runs The Serious Games Consultancy in Adelaide, says narrative is vital to delivering the level of audience engagement that is the key strength of games. “I genuinely believe it is a revolutionary way of communicating, because anything which gives you a degree of experience has got to be better than something which is sedentary or passive. But equally, it is not always appropriate. You don’t want to turn everything into a game. Either it trivialises it or it is more effort to create a game than just to do it.” Wired.com’s Perkins agrees: “The number one rule has to be to tell a journalistic story... the game has to add a layer of understanding. It can’t just be an adjunct to the story, it needs to deepen the understanding for the user.” Carney thinks his pirate story worked because it “was all about economics. About numbers.” But he says not all stories lend themselves to game treatment. “There is a push within some magazines to go all infographic, and turn content into easily digestible nuts. Most stories just don’t work as info-porn.” Egglestone, however, thinks there could be thousands of ways to tell stories in the future and “sitting journalists down with games designers and asking ‘what if’ is just the beginning.” Skye Doherty is an editor, digital producer and consultant; skyedoherty.com
Making a drama out of a crisis Simon Cunliffe is bringing a fictional newsroom to the Dunedin stage in his play The Truth Game
owards the end of the 1980s, I found myself employed by the Mirror Group in London. Its buildings straddled New Fetter Lane, which ran from Holborn Circus down to Fleet Street. From the upper floors, magnate Robert Maxwell cast a malevolent pall over his empire below. My colleagues and I worked in satellite offices connected to the larger complex by a glass-covered walkway. It was easy to get lost in this labyrinth. Indeed, there was an apocryphal tale of an editorial writer who, disoriented by the introduction of computers, was dispatched with his typewriter to “Siberia”, an office on the dark side of a dark building which ordinarily you needed a road map to find… and in which the editorialist’s crumbling cadaver was discovered a year or two later. Below the offices of the Sunday Mirror Magazine, the launch of which I’d been recruited to assist, was a pub. It was dark, dank with stale beer and tobacco. Whorls of cigarette smoke hung in the air. A den of intrigue and internecine office politics, it was known as “The Stab” – short for “The Stab in the Back”. Here, information was bought with a bevvy, liaisons initiated, careers begun and ended. “Watch yours,” my chief sub used to tell me as we adjourned for a pint. He was a gentleman, middleaged, kind and learned, but bewildered by the change that had overtaken his industry. For him, it was the end of the era. I came into journalism proper through a back door prised ajar by Rupert Murdoch’s tussle with the UK print unions over computerisation. I was 30, the author of a pile of short stories and the owner of an even larger collection of rejection notices. I had a folder of cuttings from reputable publications and subediting experience on national papers, but my CV essentially shouted “jack of all trades, master of none”. From his yacht anchored somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean, Maxwell called up one day and demanded of a subordinate: “Sign three subeditors!” Wishing neither to delay nor disappoint, the man shoulder-tapped the first three people who hove into view. I could have been the cleaner for all he knew. I plunged into the job with all the zeal of the saved. It seemed impossibly exotic: the two alpha male subeditors bloodying each other’s noses over the placement of a serial comma; the editorial “executives”, back from a five-hour lunch, exorcising their booze-induced lust in the women’s loo, a crowd of office eavesdroppers cheering them on. I moved on to The Independent, still in its heyday. Here, the diversions were of a different order – even the sex was more literary – but equally colourful. Half-expecting to be found out, and as insurance against that eventuality, I began collecting incidents and observations, like a magpie nicking shiny trinkets. One of the central conceits of my play, The Truth Game, is that all the crises of the age come to a head during one night’s production of a fictional daily, The Advocate. The play is haunted by (though not based on) ghosts of people, places and events encountered over almost three decades in journalism. In 1994, I returned to New Zealand as feature writer on The Press in Christchurch, which had been taken over by the Murdoch-dominated Independent Newspapers Limited. A culture of “change management’’ was afoot in which I played my part, in increasingly senior roles. But by the time I resigned as deputy editor in 2002, misgivings about the business of journalism had begun to gather. It was these that got me started on the play, following a move to Dunedin. I began hawking around early versions of the script in 2006, and over the next few years rewrote it in the light of what I learnt from readings and workshops. In 2007 I rejoined the mainstream, taking a job at the Otago Daily Times – and was relieved. In 2011, it is the solitary independent major daily newspaper in New Zealand, and the only one with its own integrated subediting.
Serendipity kicked in when the Fortune, Dunedin’s professional theatre, programmed the play to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Otago Daily Times, the oldest continuously published daily in New Zealand. Indeed the profile of the whole newspaper industry had been raised by the News of the World phonehacking scandal and the demise of the New Zealand Press Association. At the heart of The Truth Game is Frank Stone, “the last great snorting warhorse of print journalism”. Acting editor of daily newspaper The Advocate, recently taken over by an international media company, he is an old-style print warrior for “truth”, grammatical correctness and the watchdog role of “the Fourth Estate” – who finds himself at odds with his paper’s corporate masters. While all around him marketers, managers and disciples of the new digital media peddle their pervasive dedication to focus groups, trivia and the bottom line, Frank tries to reconcile the colliding demands of principle and personal aspiration, while confronting Greg Johnson the demons of his messy past, and mounting a plays Frank Stone, the last rear-guard action for the very “soul” of news. great snorting His old mate Rafe Jones, a descendant of that warhorse of print cadaverous leader writer but given to moments of journalism piercing clarity, spells out the play’s theme: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in the interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appears.” In the best of journalistic traditions, this is a steal (from Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci). There is a clichéd piece of advice given to would-be authors: write about what you know. But knowing too much can be a hindrance. Feedback from journalists on early drafts was that The Truth Game was “just like a documentary”. I had to be reminded I wasn’t writing for my colleagues: they would form a tiny percentage of the potential audience. The challenge was to turn my subject into compelling drama. This meant learning about dramatic structure. Although both newspapers and theatre thrive on crises and conflict, news reportage requires conveying as much information as possible in the most economical way – leaving nothing to chance and even less to suspense. On the other hand, good drama offers its delayed gratifications in a series of stages as it drives towards climax and resolution. I wanted to write a play set in a traditional newsroom besieged by the crises of the age (falling circulations, splintered ad revenues, debt loading, changed ownership patterns and digital consumption) before that newsroom disappeared entirely. In part, this was to be an affectionate valediction, but also an interrogation of the confused and diffused role of the Fourth Estate in contemporary democracy. That’s the columnist and editorial writer in me: the traditional newspaper man, in control of his material, who assembles facts and opinions and relays them matter-of-factly. The dramatist within, however, knows that the theatrical substrate and fictional characters don’t always want to play ball. They challenge you constantly and haul you off in directions you might not have anticipated. In his powerful indictment of the modern media, Flat Earth News (Vintage, $19.95), Guardian journalist Nick Davies suggests more than once that telling the truth is the proper business of journalism. But as even Frank Stone, its greatest advocate, is at one point forced to concede, “The Truth is not always that simple”. If it were, I suspect The Truth Game would never have been written, much less produced. Simon Cunliffe is a playwright and deputy editor (news) at the Otago Daily Times. The Truth Game, directed by Lara Macgregor, runs at the Fortune Theatre in Dunedin from October 7 to 29
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISM
More great names from AJA history Paul Lyneham (1945–2000) Paul Lyneham has been described as one of the most talented journalists of his generation. He was a distinguished foreign correspondent, and brought character and humour to the analysis of politics and public affairs. He was born in Melbourne in 1945, and grew up there and in Canberra. After studying at the Australian National University, he became a cadet journalist on The Canberra Times and then The Australian. In 1969, Lyneham joined the ABC. He spent six years as its London correspondent, covering the Northern Ireland conflict, the Ethiopian famine and the Paris peace talks that put a formal end to the Vietnam War. He also met his future wife, the writer and journalist Dorothy Horsfield. Lyneham moved back to Australia to work for the ABC’s Four Corners. In 1979 he won a Logie Award for best documentary for a report on opencut mining in Queensland. He moved back to London in the early 1980s as Channel Seven’s European correspondent, and covered the Falklands War. Lyneham moved back to Canberra to report on local and international politics. In 1983–84, he covered the trial of Father Brian Gore, an Australian priest wrongfully accused of murder in the Philippines. He also covered the 1986 Philippines election. On the ABC’s Sydney radio station, 2BL, Lyneham worked with Andrew Olle to bring an informative and humorous slant to political goings-on. Lyneham’s style was unique: funny, fearless and acerbic. In 1992, he had a memorable exchange with then Liberal leader John Hewson, who was wanting
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to tighten up citizenship requirements. Lyneham put Hewson on the spot by asking him to recite the words of Advance Australia Fair. Hewson expressed some nervousness about the second verse. Lyneham: But you could do the first verse, could you? Hewson: Australians let us all rejoice, we are young and free. Golden soil and well for toil, our land is gutter by sea. Lyneham: Keep going, you might find yourself being deported. Hewson: Our land abounds in nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare. Lyneham: Right. Going well. Hewson: When history’s name, um… Lyneham: Page. Hewson: When history’s page, um… Lyneham: Let every stage… Hewson: Advance Australia fair. Lyneham: Well done. In 1995 Lyneham joined the Nine Network and 60 Minutes. After his friend Andrew Olle’s death from cancer in 1996, Lyneham co-edited, with Annette Olle, the book Andrew Olle, 1947-1995: A Tribute. When Lyneham died from cancer in November 2000 there was a rush of tributes from colleagues and fans. In 2002, the Paul Lyneham Award for Excellence in Journalism was established, exclusively for members of the federal parliamentary press gallery.
Connie Robertson (1895–1964) Connie Robertson was an indomitable journalist who maintained her career at a time when wives and mothers were not expected to work outside the home. Though she reigned supreme in the “women’s pages”, her character and influence also made their mark beyond that domain. Born Constance Stephens in Sydney on October 16, 1895, her working life began in 1911 on her father’s literary magazine, Bookfellow, where she stayed until 1916. In 1917, she moved to The Sun, becoming its “social editress”. In 1928, she was one of two female journalists sent to Honolulu to cover the first Pan-Pacific Women’s Conference for Australian newspapers. In the same year, she married journalist William Kinnear Robertson. The birth of her only child in 1931 did not stop her career: she edited Women’s Budget from 1930 to 1936 and also edited the first issue of Ink in 1932, which was published by the Society of Women Writers of NSW and included work by Kenneth Slessor, Flora Eldershaw, Mary Gilmore and Katharine Susannah Prichard. In her introduction, Robertson railed that “the old idea that a woman should not edit (but be subedited) persists.” From 1936, Robertson was editor of the women’s supplement of The Sydney Morning Herald (and later its Sunday equivalent), priding herself on running articles of social relevance for women. The pages contained local social news, Hollywood gossip, fashion, cooking and beauty, as well as articles on books and broader social issues. She was a true professional who deplored mediocrity and expected high standards from the journalists who worked for her. A common theme in her pages was women succeeding in a man’s world, but retaining their femininity. An article she published in February 1940 focused on how the “fair-haired, blue-eyed and extremely attractive” women pilots in the Royal Air Force were often better qualified than many of their male colleagues. Robertson became an accredited war correspondent to the women’s services during World War II. In 1947–48, she visited Britain and wrote a series of articles about the effects of rationing. In 1954, she covered Queen Elizabeth’s first Australian tour. She was made an OBE in 1955, and retired in 1962, but continued to write a weekly column for The Sydney Morning Herald until shortly before her death on March 3, 1964.
Many thanks, Mr Archibald A bequest from The Bulletin’s founder is still helping journalists in tough times today, writes Helen Pitt
hen I was a cub reporter at The Sydney Morning paragraphs” but others claim he cared about healing the Herald, a journalist called Gavin Cantlon came souls of the people who worked for him, as much as he to talk to our cadet intake about the benefits cared about properly punctuating their paragraphs. of union membership. He took us to The Journalists’ “He cared their pants were thinning and their boots Club, that notoriously seedy spot near Central, where old leaked, that their wives and children had enough to eat and journos – mainly late-shift subs – went to drink, smoke, pay the rent,” the Australian Dictionary of Biography notes. and play the pokies all through the night. It was not exactly No stranger to hard times himself, Archibald suffered a glowing endorsement on the pluses of trade unionism periods of depression and hypochondria, and was even (although club membership was touted as an added admitted to the psychiatric ward at Callan Park. This bonus). But after downing many beers (as important a made him sensitive to the struggle of others. journalistic skill back then as shorthand) and a serving In 1892, when Bulletin writer Henry Lawson fell into of deep-fried camembert (it was the 1980s), most of us an alcoholic rut, Archibald gave him a one-way ticket signed up. I paid my dues, donated the occasional day’s to Bourke and five pounds. Lawson’s experiences of work to the Benevolent Fund and never imagined it drought-riddled NSW on that journey coloured his work would apply to me. for the rest of his life. His sympathetic portraits of the Decades later my husband died. Within days, one of “battling mateship ethos” of the bush, particularly in the NSW Journalists Benevolent Fund trustees contacted his iconic short story from that Bourke sojourn, “The me on the other side of the world in America, offering Union buries its dead”, resonated with Archibald. The assistance if I ever wanted to move back to Sydney. This struggling “Faces on the Street” that Lawson brought generous act meant an enormous amount to me at to life in poetry, were the sorts of people Archibald no It reminded me of what a difficult time. It reminded me of what my dad always doubt wanted to help in his death. my dad always said said about joining a union: it was like being in a family Lawson’s lover, author and fellow Bulletin writer, about joining a union; it – at its best when you’re at your worst. Dame Mary Gilmore, made the next large bequest I later learnt that the Benevolent Fund has helped to the Benevolent Fund on her death in 1962. She was was like being in a many journalists and their families touched by death, the first female member of the Australian Workers’ Union. family – at its best when illness, or natural disasters for over 80 years. Sometimes Another Bulletin journalist, ABC broadcaster and Daily you’re at your worst it’s help towards paying for a funeral or an interest-free Telegraph foreign editor, Emery Barcs, and his wife also loan, for others it’s practical help, writing a will or helping left a significant sum to the fund on his death in 1990. to pay for medical costs. Not all recipients have been union Today it is funded mostly by investment income. members – the fraternity of fellow journalists does not make that a prerequisite. When I worked at The Bulletin in the 1990s, I often walked past the Archibald The six trustee members – most of whom many readers would know – remain Fountain in Hyde Park at lunchtime. I was always puzzled why it was a statue graciously low-key but meet regularly throughout the year to determine who of Apollo, rather than the editor himself, until I read the plaque at the fountain and how they can help. which said Apollo represents the arts and he “holds out his arm as a sign of The Benevolent Fund of the New South Wales branch of the Australian protection and spreads his benefits over all”. Journalists’ Association was set up “for the relief of distressed Australian Nearly 100 years on, JF Archibald continues to spread his benefits over all, journalists”. It received a major boost on the death of journalist and editor just like the Greek god. Through the Benevolent Fund’s education fund, which Jules François Archibald, who founded The Bulletin in 1880. distributes money to children of journalists who have lost a parent, my nine-yearArchibald was childless when he died in 1919, and his estate was worth a then old son receives music lessons. While his first school band concert may not have astronomical £90,000. More than half of that went to the Benevolent Fund, the had the poise of the Hyde Park fountain, the prestige of the portraiture prize or rest of his money was used to build the Archibald Fountain in Sydney’s Hyde the beauty of a Lawson poem, it was art, nonetheless, which wouldn’t have been Park, and to establish the Archibald Prize for portraiture. possible were it not for the generosity of Archibald. Archibald was renowned for his “kindness and subediting” (two things we see less of in newsrooms these days). He called himself a “soler and heeler of Helen Pitt has worked at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Bulletin
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
Trust me. I’m a reporter Journalists need to rebuild the public’s faith in what they do, says Laurie Oakes
ournalists have a problem. A big problem. The News of the The Walkley Awards – and the other activities of the World phone-hacking scandal has focused attention on it, but Walkley Foundation – are about trying to uphold and it’s been there for quite a while, slowly getting worse. improve standards in journalism. That’s fundamental I’m talking about a declining trust in what we do and the way to the task of improving the way journalism and those we do it. We need to worry about our craft. If people lose trust who practise it are regarded. The awards focus attention on the best journalism, in what we do, there’s not a lot of point doing it. We can say so that readers, listeners, and viewers see that there is good “phone hacking doesn’t happen here”, but that misses the point. In 2008 I came back from a visit to Washington DC with journalism, quality journalism, being produced. A great a souvenir from the Newseum – a coffee mug bearing the words, deal of it, in fact. There should be no shortage of great work in 2011. It’s “Trust me. I’m a reporter.” Even the museum devoted to been a heck of a year for news – floods and cyclones the business of news, and honouring those who in Australia, an earthquake in Christchurch, gather and explain it, had accepted that the devastation and a nuclear emergency in Japan, conjunction of “trust” and “journalism” the Americans’ secret and successful mission would cause amusement. And it was into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden... And happy to cash in on it. This year Lindsay Tanner, the former a royal wedding, of course. Stories don’t get finance minister, published a book called much bigger than this. Sideshow – Dumbing Down Democracy In Australia we’ve had the drama and the (Scribe, $32.95). His theme was that the comedy – and, some would say, the tragedy – media increasingly focuses on trivia. That the of a hung federal parliament. Broken election balance between informing and entertaining promises, the carbon tax fight, plummeting has shifted. That the media distorts. polls, rioting asylum seekers, the tragic That “editors, producers and journalists, deaths of asylum seekers in the boat disaster just like politicians, craft stories around at Christmas Island, the Malaysian swap their audiences’ desires. They mine the solution, and its demise. deepest prejudices and fears of a particular And of course, there’s been the News demographic group, and regurgitate of the World scandal and the humbling of them dressed up as news.” Rupert Murdoch before a House of Commons When politicians start comparing Committee. journalists to politicians, things are serious. Which is where we came in. It also requires courage to go You get the picture. It’s been a hell of a news year. I’m sure this against popular opinion, to offend I’ve been reading a lot of this sort of year’s Walkley Awards are going to reflect that. thing lately. There was a learned article The thing I’ve found most gratifying since powerful politicians, to take on from a university academic about the I joined the Walkley board is the quality of important interest groups, to criticise McDonaldisation of journalism. It claimed the entries. I’m not just talking about the sacred cows, to expose corruption junk journalism, like junk food, is taking over. stuff in the big metro dailies or the major It quoted the BBC’s chief political reporter, networks, either. I also have in mind the work and other wrongdoing Andrew Marr, bemoaning the trend to in regional and suburban newspapers, in “bite-sized McNugget journalism”. regional radio and television, in publications I read a lecture in which a former executive of The Guardian in Britain said I would not normally get to read. It’s an eye-opener. a description that could be applied to a lot of today’s journalism is: “Make it The judging process is painstaking. In news reports, for example, the juicy, make it brief, and make it up.” qualities judges take into account include writing excellence, accuracy, And my old mate Mark Latham wrote in an article: “The serious scrutiny storytelling, ethics, research, impact and public benefit – all the things our of the 1970s and ’80s has been replaced by the frivolity of breakfast TV and critics claim are neglected. the shallowness of Sky News.” (Mark would know, of course. His employment If you look at the criteria, you’ll see the judges are also looking for in a journalistic role in last year’s federal election went a fair way to proving “courageous journalism”. That doesn’t necessarily mean risking your life his point.) (although there are plenty of our colleagues who do that). It also requires Somebody – I can’t remember who – once said that people may expect too courage to go against popular opinion, to offend powerful politicians, to take much of journalism. Not only do they expect it to be entertaining, they also on important interest groups, to criticise sacred cows, to expose corruption expect it to be true. and other wrongdoing. I think the media in this country don’t do a bad job of meeting both those As I said before, journalists have a problem. We need to defend what we do, expectations, but at the moment that’s not a widely shared belief. and to demonstrate that things are not nearly as bad as critics claim. I took heart from the fact that, in the end, the News of the World scandal The way to do that is to encourage, recognise and reward good journalism. was exposed largely as a result of brilliant investigative journalism by The And to put the best on display. Guardian’s Nick Davies. The Walkleys do that. So I read his book, Flat Earth News (Vintage, $19.95), only to find he’d written there: “I work in a corrupted profession.” Laurie Oakes, the 2010 Gold Walkley winner, is the Nine Network’s political As a craft, as an industry, we have a problem. We need to try to rebuild the editor and chair of the Walkley Advisory Board. This is an edited version of his public’s faith in journalism. And that is why the Walkley Awards are important. address to the Walkleys’ Editors and Producers Lunch in Sydney on August 11
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A media watchdog with teeth The community wants better standards from journalism, and Julian Disney expects his Press Council to deliver them. Cartoon by Lindsay Foyle
hen approached to chair the Press Council 18 months ago, I accepted because I thought its role was important, although it needed to become much more effective. For example, a higher priority should be given to identifying problems about media practices, not just waiting for complaints to be made to the Council. It also needed to put more emphasis on setting specific standards and monitoring compliance with them. The Council endorsed this approach and last year began gathering resources for a three-year Standards Project. Some funding came from outside the media industry and the project began a few months ago, with support from the Myer Foundation. The Council would like funding from more non-media sources, including the Commonwealth government. The Standards Project will revise the council’s existing standards of practice, develop new standards, and improve communication about them to the media and broader community. The federal government’s media inquiry should provide some additional ideas about what priorities the project could pursue. The Council’s jurisdiction over publishers’ websites means it’s closely involved with the opportunities and problems associated with internet publishing. The first of the Council’s new standards of practice – on reporting and discussion of suicide issues – were issued in August. They were developed after extensive consultation with mental health experts, suicide-prevention groups and media representatives. The standards emphasise the general desirability of media discussion about the incidence and causes of suicide and ways in which it might be reduced. They also provide specific rules and guidance about the care which needs to be exercised when reporting some suicides. A series of round-table consultations with community leaders and media representatives is being held around Australia to identify other priority areas of concern. Some of the issues already raised include: • Investigation: using dishonest methods to obtain information, whether directly or by paying other people to do so; recording telephone interviews without notice; unfairly using material from social media, especially when on private settings; paying informants (“chequebook journalism”); inappropriately contacting patients in hospital. • Accuracy: failing to check facts adequately; publishing inaccurate or misleading headlines; digitally altering photographs; posting readers’ comments which are undoubtedly false; failing to distinguish between statements of fact and opinion; failing to publish corrections or apologies with sufficient prominence. • Fairness and balance: publishing claims about a person without contacting them; seeking comment at unreasonably short notice; making offensive comments about individuals or groups on the basis of characteristics such as race, religion or age; failing to provide reasonable balance in a particular article or over time; not disclosing conflicts of interest. • Privacy: intruding on grief or the victims of crime; intruding into the private lives of public figures; taking photographs of people who are on private property; harassing people by excessive attempts to interview or photograph them; publishing identifiable photographs of accused people; breaching suppression orders. • Online issues: posting abusive comments or false statements by readers; posting readers’ comments on websites without requiring identification; failing to remove inaccurate or unfair articles from website archives; correcting online articles without recording the nature of the changes.
Many of these issues will need to be addressed by new or revised Standards of Practice. In most cases, this will involve detailed consultation with journalists, editors or photographers, as well as with relevant people from the broader community. Comparable standards developed by other press councils, media regulators and authorities such as courts or ombudsmen will also be looked at. The Convergence Review that is being undertaken for the federal government emphasises the need for consistent standards that can be applied across different media and platforms. This won’t be easy, as there are separate sets of standards for commercial radio and commercial TV, as well as for the ABC and SBS. Many of the new or revised standards will reflect what has long been regarded as good practice by responsible journalists. But improving compliance more broadly across the media is important, especially given the competitive pressures on news websites to publish hastily and flamboyantly. Of course if journalists are required to comply with standards of good practice, then so should the people who engage with journalists. This applies, for example, to the provision or withholding of information by police, security agencies, public companies and government departments. The Press Council’s current work on standards for interviewing or photographing patients includes talking to hospital authorities about ways to
Improving compliance more broadly across the media is important, especially given the competitive pressures on news websites to publish hastily and flamboyantly ensure journalists get reasonable responses if they are required to obtain prior approval from the hospital and patient. The Council is also making more rigorous adjudications on complaints: the proportion upheld rose from about 45 per cent to 70 per cent last year. As well, adjudications will become more robust in their criticisms of unsatisfactory conduct and calls for remedial action. The Council has become more proactive in investigating and reporting on serious allegations that come to its attention, even if they have not been the subject of formal complaints. It would also like to strengthen systemic monitoring of compliance, rather than just respond to complaints. For example, this might include public reports on the extent to which a sample of publications over a particular period had complied with a particular set of Press Council standards. The Council will also focus more closely on the quality of publishers’ internal systems for setting standards, monitoring compliance and responding to apparent breaches. Most readers’ concerns should be addressed at this level, promptly and effectively. The Press Council cannot expect publishers to address shortcomings in their standards if it’s unwilling to improve its own performance. This will require better processes, more resources and firmer action. The Standards Project is a crucial element in bringing the media’s standards, and the Council itself, to the levels which the community is entitled to expect. Professor Julian Disney is chair of the Australian Press Council. For information about the Council’s Standards of Practice, and the Standards Project, go to www.presscouncil.org.au/specific-standards/ Lindsay Foyle is a former deputy editor of The Bulletin and a past president of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
46 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
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Ranges in Tennant Creek By JASMIN AFIANOS recently, making every effort to woo a woman. One resident who walks along the bike track to the Mary Ann Dam regularly said she realised she T h e w e l l - e n d o w e d was being followed early macropod has been hang- one morning. ing around the Honeymoon ‘‘I turned around and
A BRAWNY kangaroo that has been seeking love of late has focussed his lust on the women of a Territory town.
saw this big kangaroo behind me, so I hastened my steps,’’ she said. ‘‘It seemed a bit odd, but I continued walking and didn’t think much about it. ‘‘Then on the return walk he was there waiting for me,’’ she said. ‘‘With his male pride on
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Horny roo stalks NT women
PUB: NT NEWS
inside of the book. But it’s a criticism the newspaper wears as a badge of honour because it believes its readers are more interested in local issues directly affecting their lives than in something happening thousands of kilometres away. The Northern Territory is a rapidly changing place. Darwin has the highest population churn of any Australian capital city. Once considered something of a frontier town, the Territory’s capital has become a modern, multicultural city. The NT News has changed to reflect that. As high-rise buildings have gone up, the paper has expanded its property and business sections. It introduced features pages such as Bite Me, a food page focusing on the broad range of local cuisine, and ConfideNTial, featuring glamour and gossip from Darwin’s rapidly growing social scene. But its focus has remained fiercely local.
full alert, he started circling me. ‘‘There was no doubt about what he wanted, the randy old thing. ‘‘It was a huge kangaroo and quite intimidating. ‘‘I yelled at him to go
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InpexdelayedagainbutGovtsureit’sstillcoming By NICK CALACOURAS TERRITORIANS will have to wait even longer for the final investment decision from Inpex — with the date of completion pushed back beyond 2015. Inpex director Masahiro Murayama said in Tokyo that the
company would not make a decision this year or meet its 2015 start of operations deadline. He did not provide a reason for the delay. Inpex spokesman Sean Kildare said last night the company’s president Naoki Kuroda would be giving a project update to investors this afternoon in Tokyo.
But Chief Minister Paul Henderson said he had been assured the project was still coming. Mr Henderson said he had been given a confidential briefing by the Japanese energy giant — but he could not disclose what he was told. ‘‘What I can say is I get regular updates, and I have been assured
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very recently that this project will come to Darwin,’’ he said. Many Territorians were disappointed to learn last month that the Greater Sunrise gas project would not come to Darwin — and would be processed on an experimental offshore facility. This new technology could hurt
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the Territory’s chances for future gas projects. But Mr Henderson said this would not happen to the Inpex project. ‘‘For some fields, like Inpex, are too big and it would be impossible to develop with a floating platform,’’ he
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AUSTRALIAN SPRINTCAR TITLE 27-29 MAY
Julian Ricci was editor of the NT News from 2004 to June 2011. He is now working as assistant editor of NewsCentral in Sydney
PUB: NT NEWS
By PHOEBE STEWART
A TERRITORY man filmed himself speeding at 150km/h while masturbating at the wheel of his drug-laden car, a court heard. His Holden SV6 was allegedly laden with 5kg of drugs, including two cannabis plants resting on the back seat, the court was told. Brendon Alan Erhardt (pictured), 39, was granted bail so he could marry
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became wrapped around the intestines of Baxter, (pictured on the operating table) a two-year-old cavalier king charles spaniel. Baxter’s owner, who was too embarrassed to be named, said she rushed her tiny pooch Vets said that elastic on the to the University Avenue Continued Page 2 size 10, lacy, black G-string
By REBEKAH CAVANAGH A TERRITORY dog’s knickers fetish almost cost him his life when he swallowed his owner’s G-string over the Easter long weekend.
EXPLOSIVE EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE Govt agrees to fireworks ban EXPLOSIVE iconic beach. The change of policy By BEN LANGFORD PRIVATE fireworks will be has not been made public but is revealed in a letter to the council banned on Mindil Beach this from Ms Lawrie. Territory Day after a bombshell ‘‘The Northern Territory Governbackflip by the NT Government. ment is willing to work with the Attorney-General Delia Lawrie DCC to restrict fireworks on Mindil has said the Government will now Beach to a DCC organised public support Darwin City Council’s plans display or permit displays only,’’ Ms to restrict public fireworks on the Lawrie wrote.
‘‘The Northern Territory Government ... will support a restriction on private fireworks used on Mindil Beach, but not on other council controlled land.’’ The ban will mean the official display of fireworks, fired from barges in the water, may be the only crackers allowed at Mindil on July 1. Darwin City Council has been
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considering a permit system after scenes of mayhem at the beach last Territory Day. Chief Minister Paul Henderson last year vowed to oppose the council’s ban. ‘‘If it means putting legislation through Territory Parliament to ensure that Darwin City Council cannot tie up Territorians in red tape one night of the year where thou-
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sands of people enjoy cracker night, that’s what we’ll do,’’ he said in July. The issue came to a head last year when council officers at Mindil were turned on by hoons after crackers were let off into the crowd. The dispute saw the Government and the council engage in a war of
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Take the NT News Fixer. Introduced late in 2009, the Fixer gives readers the chance to report something they believe needs fixing – a cracked footpath, a pothole or a missing street sign. Journalists find out who is responsible for fixing the problem, and the paper publishes their name and direct phone number. The Fixer has seen dozens of problems, including many that have existed for years, remedied overnight. Giving its readers a good laugh, fighting for them on local issues and breaking big stories are the elements that make the NT News such a great paper. The key is getting the balance right. An afternoon news conference at the NT News can be an interesting affair. When I was there, we would search not just for the best story or the best picture, but the best treatment for each story. Ideas were bounced around – often for longer than would generally be productive – before a plan was mapped out. When we discovered Darwin City Council had given the Great Moscow Circus free rent in exchange for a swag of free tickets for council aldermen, we put a red nose on the face of each council member under the headline “What a bunch of clowns”. Headline writers are encouraged to have fun, to push the envelope a little bit further than they might get away with down south. NT News photographers are always looking to be creative. And our journalists are expected to find the unusual. The NT News thinks it gets the mix right most of the time. Hopefully readers agree.
DATE: 31-JUL-2008 PAGE: 1 COLOR:
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The NT News is quirky, but it would be a mistake to write it off as a trivial journal
ven if you’ve never been to Darwin or Alice Springs, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the NT News, if only for its quirky headlines, its love of a good crocodile story, and its paranormal investigations. The NT News, the Territory’s only daily newspaper, does things a little differently. Other Australian newspapers – tabloid and broadsheet – lead their editions with stories about politics and crime. The front page of the NT News has a lighter touch. “Peacock terrorises van park”, “Horny roo stalks NT woman”, “A dog ate my g-string”, “Is this bloke a complete tosser?” and “Garden gnomes busted for drugs” are some of the headlines that have graced our front page. When rebel MP Alison Anderson declared August 10, 2009 would be the “biggest day in Territory history” (she was resigning from the Labor Party, taking away its majority in the NT parliament), the NT News responded by running a story about a UFO being captured on video. It’s not that the NT News doesn’t care about serious issues – in fact, it has led the pack when it comes to the big political stories in the Northern Territory, including Anderson’s defection from the ALP – but it believes most Territorians (indeed, most Australians) are more interested in other issues. If you walked into your nearest pub, coffee shop or mothers’ group meeting right now, how many people would be talking about the state of the economy or parliamentary pairing arrangements? None. And Territorians consider themselves a little different from the rest of the pack. They don’t have much time for politicians’ bullshit, and they hate being told what to do by a “southerner”. Most of all, they love a good laugh. Those character traits are reflected in their daily newspaper. The saying “Only in the Territory” is one regularly adopted by the paper. Dozens of weird and wonderful stories fit into this category. A bloke who robs a pub, then strips naked in front of the CCTV cameras before strolling out; a woman who makes casserole out of cats; a monkey on the loose in Darwin’s northern suburbs, or a topless woman who saves hotel guests from a fire. We’re not sure if stories like these happen in other states, but if they do, the media’s doing a pretty poor job of digging them out. The NT News is quirky, but it would be a mistake to write it off as a trivial journal. Most of the big stories uncovered in the Territory have been broken by the NT News. Three separate inquiries are underway following the paper’s revelations that tonnes of copper concentrate were being dumped into Darwin harbour from the city’s shipping wharf. Three senior health officials were removed from their positions last year after a series of exclusive reports about failings within their department. And the Northern Territory Police are so worried about who our journalists are talking to that they recently took to hacking into our phone records. The NT News is sometimes held up to national ridicule when a major world or national story is relegated to the
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K; template, circulation, mystery number
Julian Ricci, former editor of the NT News, says that the paper’s quirky front pages reflects its community in the way every great newspaper should
Friday, May 14, 2010
Phone: 8944 9900 Classifieds: 8944 9999 www.ntnews.com.au
Crocs in their heads
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Ten of the best
It has been a sad few months for journalists, with the deaths of 10 notable names – many of them far too young Chronicler of the bush – and much more Paul Lockyer (April 27, 1950 – August 18, 2011) Paul Lockyer, the veteran ABC journalist who died in a helicopter crash near Lake Eyre on August 18, was a consummate reporter and an “absolute gentleman”, mourned in the city and the bush. After his death (along with pilot Gary Ticehurst and cameraman John Bean) in a remote area of South Australia, tributes poured in from colleagues and the public. Paul James Lockyer was born in Corrigin, 250km east of Perth, and started work in the ABC’s Perth office in 1969. He later moved to Sydney, then to Canberra in 1976. Three years later, he was a foreign correspondent, reporting on South-East Asia (he reported on the Khmer Rouge’s “killing fields” in Cambodia) and later Washington DC during the Reagan administration, then Singapore. He returned to Sydney in 1988 to join the Nine Network, where he worked on Midday, Sunday and sports programs. After returning to the ABC in 1999, he covered the Sydney Olympics and earned a Logie for Most Outstanding TV News Reporter. Lockyer went on to build an enviable reputation reporting on rural Australia, especially Lake Eyre. In January 2011, he and Ticehurst were the first media to get into Grantham after it had been devastated by the floods in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley. He also covered the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi. John Tulloh, formerly head of International Operations at the ABC, said in a tribute: “Paul was the ultimate TV reporter for all seasons. For sheer versatility, I cannot think of anyone who could match him. He could handle any subject, long or short, sport or general news, no matter what the expectation or deadline. He always told the story so well and accurately. On major running events, viewers could not have wished for a better source of the latest and most relevant information… “He would not have known the meaning of vanity. He was as natural as the sunrise. He had no rampant ego and never resorted to hyperbole, gratuitous adjectives or contrived actions. He dressed in whatever he felt comfortable in and certainly never just to impress. He would have felt uncomfortable in the make-up room. If he had an enemy, it would be only out of envy for who he was and what he did. He would never have succeeded in the executive ranks of the ABC because he didn’t have a political bone in his body.” Paul Lockyer is survived by his wife, Maria, and two sons Jamie and Nicky.
An eye in the sky Gary Ticehurst (October 10, 1950 – August 18, 2011) Gary Ticehurst, who died with colleagues Paul Locker and John Bean on August 18, was one of Australia’s most experienced media pilots. He had flown helicopters for the ABC since the mid-1980s and, over a 40-year career, clocked up 16,000 hours of flying time. In my time at the ABC, there were many stirring deeds by reporters and crews. For me, there was none greater than during the disastrous 1998 Sydney-Hobart yacht race. That’s when Gary Ticehurst (and cameraman Peter Sinclair) hovered in gale-force winds above stricken yachts and liferafts to coordinate their positions with rescuers. The helicopter turned away only when Ticehurst knew it had just enough fuel left to return to land. Gary’s actions that day saved the lives of probably 25 yachtsmen in that race. He received an award for courage and airmanship from the American body of helicopter pilots. Gary Edwin Ticehurst was born in Newcastle on October 10, 1950 and attended Narwee Boys’ High, in Sydney’s south. He received a scholarship to study mechanical engineering at the University of NSW, but did not finish his degree. Instead, he joined the army to specialise in military aviation. He left the army in 1980, and became a helicopter pilot in the newly formed Police Air Wing. He stayed with the police for 18 months, then formed his own company, G&A Helicopters, which secured a contract with the ABC. We formed a close relationship when we had adjoining offices at Gore Hill. Gary always took an interest in the reporters and cameramen who once had been his passengers, and you would often find him standing behind the Satellite Desk to watch their stories come in. Gary was not just a meticulous pilot, he was a newsman. Frequently he did two-way radio interviews while flying above anything from a big news story to the arrival in the harbour of some warship or grand liner. Most of all, he was a kind of flying cameraman, manoeuvring his helicopter at just the angle, direction and speed to enable the cameraman to get the best shots. Ticehurst is survived by his second wife, Teresa, and by Michele and Matthew, his children by his first marriage. John Tulloh
The cameraman everyone wanted John Bean, ASC (June 12, 1963 – August 18, 2011) ABC cameraman John Bean has received two honours since his death. He has been awarded the Australian Cinematographers Society’s highest honour (meaning his name can be followed by the initials “ACS”), and the news and current affairs camera award at the Queensland Media Awards has been named after him. Bean, who was based in Brisbane, died with Paul Lockyer and Gary Ticehurst in the Lake Eyre helicopter crash. He worked at the ABC for two decades, on programs including the news, The 7.30 Report, Sunday Arts, Catalyst, The New Inventors and Gardening Australia. He met his future wife, journalist Pip Courtney, on Landline. They married in 1999. John Wayne Bean was born in Rockhampton on June 12, 1963 and attended Glenmore State High. He majored in film studies at Arts College at Seven Hills (later the QCA) before starting as a cameraman with RTQ in Rockhampton in 1984. He became a “John of all trades” at DDQ10 in Toowoomba, then a camera operator for the ABC in Canberra. Later he worked for the ABC in Melbourne and Brisbane. Once, while Bean was filming Senator Mal Colston, the politician told him to “get a real job.” Bean helped judge the camera category of the 2008 Walkley Awards. In 2009, he spent time in the ABC’s Washington bureau. He also mentored film students at Queensland’s Griffith University. “I love my job,’” Bean blogged last year after a trip with Lockyer and Ticehurst to Lake Eyre after the drought broke. “I was completely amazed at what we found. Where was the red, the dust, the caked barren earth, the sand? Instead there was water everywhere, and green and blue, and yes, there was red.” Stills of Lake Eyre he posted online got such a response that he exhibited them in Brisbane. He was planning to do more stills photography. Many praised Bean’s artistry and abilities. Landline’s executive producer, Peter Lewis, said Bean was a “standout” cameraman. 7.30 host Leigh Sales described Bean as “a beautiful person” who “treated every story as if it was his first”. ASC national president Ron Johanson said: “With a camera in his hand, he owned the world. It was truly an extension of himself.” The ABC’s managing director, Mark Scott, said Bean was “the cameraman that all the journalists wanted to take along”. Nearly a thousand people attended the memorial service at the Brisbane Convention Centre. John Bean is survived by Pip Courtney, his parents Colin and Judith Bean, and sister Tammy Acutt.
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
PAYIN G TR IB UTE
Face of innovation in the newsroom Ian Robert Carroll (November 17, 1946 – August 19, 2011) The ABC executive Ian Carroll was instrumental to the development of current affairs shows including The National, Nationwide, Lateline and The 7.30 Report. He died of cancer in Sydney on August 19, aged 64. His last job at the ABC was director of innovation, a role that saw him driving the development of iView and iPhone and iPad apps and overhauling ABC websites. He stepped down in early August, a fortnight before his death. At Carroll’s farewell, ABC managing director Mark Scott said: “I can think of no-one who embodies the ABC values more in the way that he works and engages others: integrity, respect, collegiality, innovation.” Ian Robert Carroll was born in Melbourne on November 17, 1946. He joined The Age as a cadet in 1965, and also studied for an arts degree at Monash University. After graduating, he spent three years in Europe before returning to Australia and joining the Nine Network. He later worked on Seven’s Willesee, before moving to the ABC to head the Melbourne bureau of a new national nightly current affairs program, Nationwide. In 1985 Carroll was put in charge of an initiative to merge ABC news and current affairs into a single hourlong program, The National. The move was ahead of its time, however, and the 6.30pm timeslot unpopular. Carroll moved to Nine’s Today program, but returned to the ABC in 1989 to launch Lateline. Through the 1990s, Carroll headed Four Corners and a new national version of The 7.30 Report. He became an evangelist for the digital age and, in 2001, the ABC put him in charge of its first two digital channels, ABC For Kids and Fly. He went on to co-run the ABC Asia-Pacific TV service, introducing it to India. He became chief executive of the service, rebranded Australia Network, in 2005, and the ABC’s director of innovation in 2007. Carroll was held in high regard by the staff at the ABC’s Ultimo newsroom and his farewell featured a video of tributes from leading media figures, including the ABC’s Kerry O’Brien and Jonathan Holmes and Nine’s John Westacott. His death two weeks later, on the same day that the deaths of ABC team Paul Lockyer, Gary Ticehurst and John Bean were confirmed, caused another rush of tributes to the veteran newsman. “We didn’t think we could grieve more, but we are devastated to lose such a creative and inspirational editorial leader,” Mark Scott said in a release. “So much of the ABC’s reputation as an innovative and dynamic public broadcaster is due to Ian’s dynamic leadership of his highly creative team.” Ian Carroll is survived by his wife, the broadcaster Geraldine Doogue (they met when working together on Nationwide and married in 1987), their son Sam, Carroll’s children by his first marriage, Michael and Genevieve, and his stepdaughter, Eliza Blue. 48 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Guardian of the language Alan Peterson (1920–2011) The death of Alan Peterson on July 2 ended a connection with The Sydney Morning Herald’s “old days” – he worked in its headquarters in O’Connell Street from 1944, moved with it to Broadway in 1954, and was still writing for it in the 1990s in Darling Park. He was, as his long-time friend and colleague Alan Dobbyn wrote in his SMH obituary, “for many years a news executive, words columnist and guardian of the best traditions” of the Herald. Albert Alan Peterson was born in 1920 in Newcastle, joined the Newcastle Herald as a proofreaders’ copy-holder at 17, and won his cadetship in 1939. He was rejected twice for World War II military service, and instead was quickly promoted to the subs’ table. The Herald recruited him in 1944, and he moved to Sydney, living in a room in an eastern suburbs mansion that Fairfax had acquired to house staff. There he met another SMH reporter, Ann Shaw, and they later married. Despite his requests to be a reporter he was soon on the subs’ table and regularly handled page-one leads and big breaking stories. He was short and somewhat bowed, and when making up in the composing room, it was common to see him stand on the rung of the stone trolley to see the other end of the forme. Alan Dobbyn, to whom Peterson was often deputy, wrote: “He cut a Dickensian figure that struck awe in cadets.” However, “beneath his mask of severity, associates found a dry wit, generosity of spirit and a lively and well-informed interest in classical music.” He spent three years as news editor of the Fairfax London bureau, directing a small staff of Australians recruited in London. When he returned to Sydney, he was the Herald’s deputy chief subeditor, then chief sub, and then chief-of-staff. He made the mistake of going on holiday, returned, and found he had been replaced and was back at the subs’ desk. Alan was educated in the old public education system of three Rs, of English grammar and spelling. As Dobbyn wrote, he “did not expect young reporters to identify a fused participle, for example, but it dismayed him that few had heard of the active voice”. In 1979, he began a weekly Saturday Herald column on words, and although he retired in 1985, it ran for more than 12 years. It brought him a wide readership, sympathetic to his belief in correct spelling, usage and grammar. Alan Peterson is survived by his second wife, Alison, son Michael and daughter Cathy, from his first marriage to the late Ann Shaw. He was the younger brother of Fred Peterson (1911-78) who worked on the Newcastle Sun and Sydney Sun, and became Sun-Herald editor. George Richards
The ultimate journo’s journo Les Kennedy (February 18, 1958 – August 10, 2011) Many beautiful words have been said about the veteran Fairfax crime reporter Les Kennedy, who died on August 10. Tributes came from colleagues and police as senior as NSW Commissioner Andrew Scipione. Les was a journo’s journo, a one-of-a-kind, an editor’s trump card. And they really did break the mould after they made him. As an editor, I’ll say this: Les was solid. If he said something was right, then you went to war alongside him on the strength of his word. If he said something was wrong, you ignored him at your peril. Les was full of passion, integrity, energy – and detail. All those facts in shorthand in his notepads and swirling around his head were ready to be born as stories for the paper, online or perhaps exclusively for the copyboys or driver who took him home. And tell them he did. The big stories he covered included the Donald Mackay murder, the arrest of Robert Trimbole, the Strathfield massacre, and the gang wars of Sydney’s south-west. He wrote two books with Mark Whittaker: Sins of the Brother (about Ivan Milat) and Granny Killer: The Story of John Glover. Just days before he died, Les checked out of hospital to file a story about the discovery of a pistol linked to the Kerry Whelan murder. Les’s stories, full of murder, death and brutality, were at odds with his gentle nature. He liked history and was proud of his Aboriginal heritage, even when (as on Australia Day) they trod on each other’s toes. He had a thing for nature, especially birds. And he was proud of his family, especially his children, Leah, Isabella, Marcus and Charlie. Les was defined by his job as a police and crime reporter. It allowed him to meet people, connect on many levels, make a living, be entertained and do the best he could with the skills he had learnt over 53 years of life. The night before his death he told his former partner, Mariana, that he wasn’t just a journalist, he was a social historian who documented history in the making. Something as simple as this meant more to him than status and money. At a wake on the night of his death, Commissioner Scipione said that, out of the next litter of pups earmarked for police work, one would be called “Police Dog Les’’. Simon Dulhunty
Reporter and sub with a gonzo streak Phillip “PD” Jack (September 11, 1947 – September 16, 2011) Phillip David Jack (invariably known as “PD”) was a noted investigative reporter who also distinguished himself in other branches of journalism over a 35-year career. Born on September 11, 1947, he grew up in Cronulla, in Sydney’s south, but started his newspaper career in Queensland, where he worked for the Bundaberg News Mail and then the Townsville Daily Bulletin. He joined the Sydney staff of the ABC’s 2JJ (later Triple J) in its early years, and made a name as an investigative journalist in the two years he spent there from 1978. (Some of his Triple J reports can be heard on abc.net.au/triplej/30years/ stories/all-stories.htm.) Cerebral, charismatic and creative, PD sometimes owned up to being a journalist in the American “gonzo” tradition. His long dispatches on the activities of criminal underworld characters anticipated the Underbelly genres – and he had the satisfaction of seeing reforms that flowed from official inquiries or royal commissions impact on some of the subjects of his work. Yet while he investigated criminals, he also ghost wrote an autobiography of “colourful Sydney racing identity” George Freeman. Later he turned to business and finance journalism, contributing many articles to a diverse group of publications, from The Australian Financial Review to Australian Playboy, Penthouse and Rolling Stone. He made several reporting trips overseas, creating memorable radio features on his escapades in the Iran-Iraq war, in occupied Gaza, and the civil war in Lebanon. He also reported on the opium trade in the Golden Triangle, and hiked into Afghanistan with Islamist guerrillas during their war against the Soviet army. For the last two decades of his life he was employed as a subeditor, first at The Australian Financial Review and then at The Sydney Morning Herald, where he was one of the great characters of the news floor. His contributions to stopwork meetings were entertaining, irascible and often to the point. In late 2009, he retired to Kings Point, at Ulladulla on the NSW South Coast, where he died from liver cancer on September 16. An email to Herald staff said that PD had “got his wish and caught the best wave of his life”. He was unmarried and left no children. A large crowd attended his memorial service at Sydney’s St James’s, which PD himself had booked shortly before his death. Lee Duffield
Critic who put TV in its place Robin Oliver (October 10, 1928 – August 27, 2011) Robin George Owen Oliver was almost certainly Australia’s longest-serving television critic. He saw his first TV transmission in 1937 – in the window of Grant’s department store in Croydon, Surrey, and was transfixed. After attending Canford School in Dorset (where his art teacher was Anthony Blunt, later revealed as the “fourth man” of the Cambridge Four spy ring), Oliver’s adventures in the media world began. He became a reporter on a local paper in Middlesex. In 1964 he and his wife, Billie, travelled overland to Australia, arriving in Perth in 1965. Television, still in its relative infancy here, ran many programs he had already seen in Britain. When Perth’s Weekend News sought a volunteer to hack out a weekly TV column, Oliver (then writing as George Owen) began a career that would keep him involved with the medium for the rest of his life. The distinctive sparkle that suffused his copy soon prompted the column to become daily. Its energetic tone – even when George Owen became Robin Oliver – never wavered. After Billie’s death, Oliver moved to Sydney in 1979 to take a position with The Daily Telegraph. Soon afterwards he met the journalist Daphne Guinness, then the Woman’s Weekly travel editor (they were introduced by Ita Buttrose): the two were inseparable from then on. He moved to The Sydney Morning Herald and was the backbone of The Guide, its weekly TV section, until ill health prompted his retirement in late 2008. Oliver, who had a penchant for bow ties, knew everyone; everyone knew and liked him. His depth of connection was remarkable and an appreciation of nuance was generally evident in his dissection of the visual entrails of the medium. He was a walking encyclopaedia and go-to man, yet never considered himself senior or superior to anyone. An understanding of gossip facilitates the reporting of any round: Robin was privy to many secrets, but never employed raw tittle-tattle. He was the only chap welcomed by the legendary “witches’ coven” – a weekly gathering of network publicists which included Dorothea Timms, Lindy Anderson, Wendy Day, Pam Hose, Gerry Sutton and Paige Lovelace. Not long after he left the Herald, Robin and Daphne hosted a lunch at their Palm Beach home for close colleagues. He held court with familiar vitality, mischievous charm and acuity. Relinquishing his craft was wrenching, but he remained an occasional and enthusiastic contributor. The term “distinguished” is no exaggeration of Robin Oliver’s work. His columns will be fondly remembered and sorely missed. Doug Anderson
A talent who turned his hand to it all David Nason (November 8, 1953 – August 21, 2011) Neither bullets nor bulldust could stop Dave Nason once he latched on to a good story, and he took on his diagnosis of a rare cancer with the same determination he applied to his journalism. The square-jawed reporter, who left his mark across four Australian cities, lost a months-long battle with the disease in Adelaide on August 21, surrounded by friends and family. It was the end of a career spanning more than three decades that saw Nason, 57, wounded by Vietnamese troops in Cambodia, don a police uniform to infiltrate Darwin airport, and so incense Kurt Vonnegut that the ageing author took to leaving obscene messages on the reporter’s answering machine. Nason’s blunt approach masked a generous heart and a dry wit; he had a strong sense of fairness and was as fiercely loyal to his friends as he was implacable in chasing his journalistic targets. A keen punter, he was as much at home in the pub, having a beer and talking about the fortunes of his beloved Collingwood, as he was prowling the corridors of power or the financial bourses. Nason’s unique style of battering keyboards with two fingers was legendary among colleagues. So was his generosity in sharing leads, bylines and advice with other reporters. His integrity and professionalism impressed even antagonists such as the former NT chief minister Shane Stone. “We had a pretty sparky relationship, but he was what one would call a very dogged and determined investigative journalist,” Stone said. “I liked him immensely, and I’m really, really sorry we’ve lost him.” After stints in TV and radio, Nason joined The Australian full-time in 1993 and ran the paper’s bureaus in Darwin, Sydney, New York and most recently, Adelaide. “David Nason was a journalist who could turn his hand to anything – he could write sport or politics, cover a war or the economy or drive himself into a disaster zone to cover a hurricane,” said The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell. “I cannot emphasise how much The Australian owes David Nason, or how grateful I am personally to him for everything he has done these past two decades.” Colleagues and friends got together for memorial services in Adelaide and Darwin, where some of his ashes were scattered on his favourite football field. He is survived by his daughter Emma, former wife Sandy, brothers Stephen and Robert, and sisters Helen and Jennifer. Steve Creedy THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
PAYIN G TR IB UTE
The tireless newshound
Bernie Keenan’s sudden death, aged 66, happened months before the consummate TV newsman would have celebrated 50 years in the industry. Bernard Patrick Keenan was born and raised in Sunnybank, Queensland and attended St Laurence’s College. He was an altar boy and, by his own admission, a dunce. A childhood fascination with news, aviation and photography led to him joining QTQ 9 Brisbane at the age of 16, and before long he was on the road (and up in the chopper) as a news cameraman. He avoided the Vietnam frontline when he was seconded to the Defence Force’s media unit in 1965, before eventually taking a job at ADS 7 in Adelaide, where he met his future wife, Susan. Daughters Amanda and Alex were born in 1974 and 1977. Bernie travelled the world with his camera, eventually becoming chief of staff and then North American producer for Seven. Later, he was news editor for Prime. For the past decade, he was the ABC’s television news chief of staff in Sydney. He was a fearless, tireless news hound. In 1970 he hit the headlines for his coverage of the rescue of a woman who had been raped and kidnapped by three
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Cartoon by David Pope
Bernie Keenan March 17, 1945 August 31, 2011
prison escapees. It was reported: “Keenan kept up with Sergeant Giles as he fired at the suspects ...” In 1975 he was dispatched to Timor, but visa complication delayed his departure and he was beaten to the flashpoint by interstate colleagues who would be among the ill-fated Balibo Five. Bernie was always a pioneer, from the days he skydived with a news camera strapped to his helmet, to his role in the development of electronic news gathering in Australia. He won a Logie in 1981 for his live coverage of a boy trapped down a well.
He took pride in mentoring young up-and-comers in the news game: I was lucky to be among them. Wonderful tributes flowed in after his death, but Bernie said it best in his tribute to colleagues Paul Lockyer, Gary Ticehurst and John Bean, quoting World War II pilot and poet John McGee: “I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the sky on laughter-silvered wings.” He is survived by his partner of 17 years, Tess McDonald, and daughters Amanda and Alex. Amanda Keenan
A cop in a hard place Former Victorian police commissioner Christine Nixon regrets ever saying “I had to eat”. Illustration by Joanne Brooker
eople who deal with the media quickly discover, through hard experience, that there are always risks in talking to journalists, and that you have to be thoughtful and careful and very clear about your message. Before the words come out you learn to envisage their form on a page, or hear them in a radio grab, and edit them as they are spoken to sidestep unintended consequences, to protect against the moment when you pick up the paper or watch the news, and groan. But no matter how seasoned a campaigner you might be, you can still get it badly wrong. Four words come to mind, uttered by me in the high-pressure environs of the Bushfires Royal Commission, when I was caught off-guard and under pressure by a radio presenter, not thinking with the clarity I needed to summon. They will haunt me for a long time: “I had to eat.” Sometimes as the story unrolls on the evening news, or you read the first paragraphs in the paper the next morning, your stomach just drops – you get this immediate, visceral reaction when you realise that through some spin or some edit or some misstep, something has gone horribly wrong. Over time in the public eye – and few public service roles are more public than that of a police chief – you learn that just as different media forums will have biases reflecting the inclinations of different audiences, there are different sorts of journalists with varied styles, and it is useful to be tactical in picking and choosing the right match to get a message across. A discussion of philosophical arguments
I guess that a lot of this commentary is a kind of code for talking about being a woman of a certain age and shape for or against zero-tolerance policing, or the physiological ones surrounding the use of Taser stun guns, will struggle to be captured in a television sound-bite or a tabloid splash. But a longer radio interview or a broadsheet profile can provide a forum for a more sophisticated, nuanced exploration, assuming the journalist involved is inclined to let you speak. Radio is a critical medium for people wanting to broadcast their message rapidly and directly. Of course you never quite know what you are exposing yourself to. Over the years, I developed a few tactics to optimise the chances of a fair hearing during interviews. Wherever possible, I attended studios for a face-to-face discussion, rather than be questioned down the phone. And I would always try to arrive a bit early. It seems it is much more difficult for people to yell at you when you are sitting right before them, and you’ve just exchanged pleasantries. Still, it never guaranteed an easy ride, and several times over the years I was floored by questions and accusations that seemed to come right out of left field. Looking back now, some of it makes a bit more sense. I firmly believe now that a small group of disgruntled police insiders was leaking half-truths through sympathetic media, with a view to damaging and destabilising me for quite a period of time. I was told many times over my years as commissioner that I could make an easier life for myself if I just played the Hard Cop with a bit more vigour – if I’d just talked about how many people we’d locked up, how many rackets we’d cracked down on, where we were leading the charge. Some of my colleagues and media advisers urged me to take a harder edge talking up crime busting, to go with the “boys’ own” stuff. I’d reckon it might be true that had I paid lip-service to this direction, it might have foiled a lot of the criticism from the small group of commentators who peddled the line that I was too soft. But it would have also betrayed the message I wanted to get out, and I was embarrassed even pretending to do that stuff. Sometimes the way you are portrayed in the media can say more about the journalist telling the story than it does about the subject. Sometimes it can betray a lot, between the lines, about where we are as a society – how, for instance, we
view women and their still evolving role and influence in the public realm. The choice of language and imagery can be very interesting. Among other things, during my early years in Victoria, I was characterised as “Mrs Doubtfire”, a hospital matron, a “scone-making favourite aunt” and the “lollipop lady from Wollongong”. I guess that a lot of this commentary is a kind of code for talking about being a woman of a certain age and shape, and again, that’s never really bothered me… You have to have a sense of humour. I don’t have any illusions about myself. If someone wants to use my size as a criticism or a weapon against me, go right ahead. Sometimes the gender card can play the other way – occasionally it will provide an advantage. I’m sure that being a female, and a “foreigner”, allowed me something of a honeymoon period for a short time after I started in Victoria. I was mindful that the moment wouldn’t last too long, so I exploited it. I seized on invitations from members of the media constructing wordier, introductory profile pieces about the curiosity of a female police chief to talk them through my philosophies, to explain the beliefs that would underpin my style of policing. As I suspected, the novelty didn’t last long. Certainly there were no vestiges of it left to cushion me from the fallout of the Qantas flights controversy in the last months of the job… or in the furore after the [Black Saturday] fires. Of course, I didn’t expect or seek an easy ride when I made mistakes, certainly not bad ones. But perhaps I hoped my history would have protected me from some of the harsher, shot-from-the-hip judgments about my ethics and behaviour. Sadly that didn’t seem to count for the usual suspects or those who had waited a long time to seek their revenge. This is an edited extract from Fair Cop, by Christine Nixon with Jo Chandler (Victory Books, $36.99) Joanne Brooker is a freelance illustrator; thebrookerstudio.com.
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
Q&A with a Walkley warrior Shirley Shackleton fought for 36 years to reveal the truth about the killing of her husband Greg and the other Balibo Five journalists, and to draw attention to East Timor’s years of suffering. In December, aged 79, she won the Walkley Book Award for her memoir The Circle of Silence (Pier 9, RRP $34.95) Were you ever tempted to put down the baton? Let me quote George Orwell: “I write because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention and my initial concern is to get a hearing. Writing a book is a horrible exhausting struggle like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon which one can neither resist nor understand.” My determination not to give up only seems extraordinary in retrospect. It was an informed choice. Not to act as I did would have been lazy and gutless. In view of the genocide in Timor and the complicity of western governments, it would have been wicked to concentrate on the atrocity at Balibó, so I relied on my surname to draw attention to those issues.
the investigation has been shafted to three different teams. So I am worried. The AFP is restricted to section 7 of the Geneva Convention, which only allows an investigation of an unlawful killing rather than the offence of murder. The AFP will not reveal who they are investigating, and will not publish any form of report before they hand their findings to the DPP. The DPP does not have to answer to government, and will decide whether to demand the extradition of the perpetrators. What was the hardest part of your campaign? On a personal level the first year was terrible. But overall the hardest part was trying to convince some editors of the truth about the ferocity of the slaughter in East Timor.
Why did you write The Circle of Silence? My book is an important part of Australian history. I want to set the record straight – because some citizens are still in denial about the reprehensible deeds of Western government representatives over the illegal occupation and genocide in East Timor, the murders of five journalists in Balibó on October 16, 1975 and the murder of Roger East on December 8, 1975.
What is left for you to achieve? Is it repatriating the remains of the Balibo Five? This almost requires another book - From Balibó to Bastardry to Bone-dust. Repatriation of the remains is a very dark chapter, because DFAT says that “all the families need to agree.” Certainly most of the Balibo Five’s next-of-kin agree that the remains should be placed in a communal grave in Melbourne. The first grave, in Kebayoran Lama Cemetery in South Jakarta, was an insult – and when I went to Jakarta last year I found the remains had been moved to a different graveyard. We were never told. Something really terrible must have happened at Balibó. When you study the lies, evasions and changes of policy before politicians in opposition are elected and the lack of activity after they gain power; when you remember the indecent haste with which the corpses of five young journalists were burned (three times) and the lengths to which western governments colluded to bury the “remains” in Jakarta instead of bringing them home to England, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia, these killings take on a whole new shade of black - the black of fraud, the black of unknown horror, a bottomless pit of deceit. My desire for justice to be seen to be done has nothing to do with vengeance. It is about accountability.
What do you expect from the Australian Federal Police inquiry into the deaths of the Balibo Five? I have learnt not to expect anything: that way I survive bitter disappointment. Since 2007, when the then AFP chief Mick Keelty promised a thorough inquiry,
How did it feel to win the Walkley Book Award? I never expected to win, but I’m pleased so many readers appreciate the humour and information in The Circle of Silence. I am now brimming with confidence and researching my next book.
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In the line of fire
CFA trucks speed away from the fire while the hills of Labertouche burn behind
Matthew Ricketson found Adrian Hyland’s focused account of the Black Saturday fires affecting and unsettling Photo by Alex Coppel, Herald Sun
he bushfires that quickly became known as Black Saturday happened on February 7, 2009, which in today’s media-marinated world seems a lifetime away. Since then there have been other disasters: Cyclone Yasi, floods in Queensland and Victoria, and earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan. So, no need to look in the rear-view mirror; nothing more to see here? We’re over Black Saturday, aren’t we? No. Many people in communities seared by the fires aren’t over it and many Victorians, after two milder summers, have sunk back into apathy about bushfire safety messages. Yet apathy is your least likely response to reading Adrian Hyland’s Kinglake-350. Like John Bryson’s reinvestigation of Lindy Chamberlain’s trial and Paul Toohey’s account of Bradley Murdoch’s murder of Peter Falconio, this will be the book that in years to come is read by anyone wanting to understand Black Saturday. Adrian Hyland is a novelist (Diamond Dove and Gunshot Road) who, for many years, lived and worked among Indigenous people in the Northern Territory. He brings time and a novelist’s sensibility to examining the bushfires. Instead of focusing on survivors, he makes Roger Wood, the police officer on duty in Kinglake, the character through which we see, hear and smell the fires that ravaged the state. It is an inspired choice, and not simply because Wood and fellow officer Cameron Caine won Victoria Police’s valour award for leading a convoy of 50 people out of Kinglake to safety. Through Wood, we see just how little, and also just how much, a country cop can do to protect the community in such a cataclysmic event. Wood takes out his phone again. The reception might be better in Whittlesea. He punches the number, another attempt to call home. For the first time all night, it’s answered. ”Oh Rodge…” Jo’s voice is drawn, weary. Enormously relieved. “I’ve been so worried about you. Been trying to call you all night.” “Same here. Worried you were dead.” He blinks back tears. “Kids OK?” “They’re fine.” He slumps forward in the seat: the long-held tension slackens like a cut rope, and he’s suddenly aware of the terror he’s been struggling with for so many hours. “It was that wind that saved us.” Jo is still talking. “It was only seconds away when it turned around.” He is struck by the irony of that. The southerly buster that diverted the fire from St Andrews and saved his own family had driven it up the escarpment to wipe out Kinglake. “‘When are you coming home, Rodge? Everything’s still on fire down here.” “‘Soon honey,” he says. A wrenching need to be there. “Not just yet.” “How’s Kinglake?” “Pretty much wiped out.” A brief silence. “You do what you have to, Roger.” “Love you.” “Yes.” This passage captures Wood’s experience: his twin loyalties to family and community and the enormity of what he endured. It provides a glimpse of
the fire’s toll on him, physically and emotionally. Deeply affecting though the narrative is, Hyland is also determined to explain the context of events, whether it’s the science of fire or the organisation of the Country Fire Authority (CFA). His comments on former CFA chief Russell Rees are sharp and measured and should – but probably won’t – give pause to those pundits for whom nuance is a dirty word. Hyland lives on the foothills of the Kinglake Ranges and agrees errors – many of them – were made by authorities on Black Saturday, but says “there were few headlines about people’s lack of preparedness”. He cites the commission testimony from bushfire researcher John Handmer. Some people “were in denial of the fire threat to the last, purposefully ignoring – in some cases, mocking – the advice of friends, relatives or agencies.” Hyland’s most disturbing argument is that fires as severe as Black Saturday are likely to occur again unless we address the causes. He cites CSIRO research predicting the doubling of extreme high-fire danger days in Melbourne by 2050. But despite the many advances in science and communications, the royal commission into Black Saturday had to cover much of the same ground as the Stretton Inquiry after the 1939 Black Friday fires, 70 years before. Hyland concludes: “Our failure to engage with fire is a failure of our culture. The lesson of how to live with our environment has yet to sink into our bones.” We isolate ourselves, ‘‘building barriers of plastic and steel between ourselves and the real world.” This failure is epitomised in the bitter, bogged debate on pricing carbon, even though scientists say global warming will lead to a rise in extreme weather events. Better understanding of how Indigenous peoples maintained their relationship with fire over thousands of years would be a good starting point, Hyland says. Future editions of Kinglake-350 would benefit from an index, a separate chronology, fuller end notes (at present it is not clear why some information is end-noted while other important statements go unsourced) and maps that give a clearer sense of where the book’s protagonists went during the bushfires. No question, though: this is an outstanding book. It should be read by anyone wanting to reconnect with their fellow citizens’ experiences amid a truly appalling disaster, by anyone frustrated with the news media’s pin-the-tail-on-the-villain approach to reporting the royal commission, and anyone worried about what we need to do to reduce the likelihood of future Black Saturday-scale bushfires. That should be all of us. Kinglake-350 by Adrian Hyland, published by Text Publishing, RRP $32.95. Matthew Ricketson is professor of journalism at the University of Canberra. This review was first published in The Age
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW...
... about writing obituaries An obituary is about life, not death, says Harriet Veitch. Cartoon by Ron Tandberg 1. You don’t have to be dead to have an obituary written While you do have to be dead to have the obituary published, all newspapers have a bulging store cupboard of obituaries of the great and the good who will be newsworthy when they die. It’s called being prepared. Writing ahead has its problems: some people are terrified of having an obituary written in case it brings on instant death. We have to tip-toe around, saying things such as “We’re just updating our records...” The odd thing is that once we have written an obituary, no matter how close the subject is to the end, he or she immediately rallies and lives a great deal longer than expected – in one case, 16 years longer.
tremendous. The first rule of submitted obituaries at The Sydney Morning Herald is: “Remove the adjectives and you’ll get a better idea of the person.” No-one in our obituaries is an icon: this goes back to a submitted obituary some years ago that started “John Smith was an icon of quantity surveying” and went downhill from there.
5. People don’t “pass on” and they don’t die in the first paragraph People die, pure and simple, they don’t “pass on”, “pass over”, “join the heavenly choir” or even, as Deng Xiaoping used to say, “go to meet Marx”. They also don’t die in the first paragraph of a Herald obituary. As a previous obituary editor, Tony Stephens, used to say, “Of course he’s dead, or he wouldn’t be on the obituary page.”
2. You can speak ill of the dead Gone are the days of polite reticence with the dear departed. Today you’re allowed to tell all tales. Consider the classic 1991 obituary of Antony Patrick Andrew Cairne Berkeley Moynihan in London’s Daily Telegraph: “The 3rd Lord Moynihan, who has died in Manila, aged 55, provided through his character and career, ample ammunition for critics of the hereditary principle. His chief occupations were bongo drummer, confidence trickster, brothel-keeper, drug smuggler and police informer...”
3. Lighten up a bit Hugh Massingberd, of London’s Daily Telegraph, is generally credited with bringing obituaries from the dusty old days to the modern form. His own obituary said, “Once, when Hugh was feeling depressed, a friend asked him what would cheer him up. He thought for a minute, then replied: ‘To sing patriotic songs in drag before an appreciative audience’.” An obituary is about life, not death, so don’t be po-faced and give us a CV, worried about what distant relatives will think about the dirty linen. If Aunt Muriel was a cat-loving, card-sharp misanthrope who started life as Marvin, just say so.
4. Don’t go overboard on the adjectives Please consider that although you loved Uncle Harry dearly, he might just not have been the greatest, the biggest, the “very very” first or the most
If Aunt Muriel was a cat-loving, card-sharp misanthrope who started life as Marvin, just say so
of the Randwick and Coogee Amateur Swimming Club for 33 years, Tom Kelly, who devoted his life to the credit union movement, Frances Hollebecq, who made the society pages then turned in later years into a top-notch hardware saleswoman, Edward Hon, who combined training in radio and medicine to revolutionise foetal heart monitoring and Audrey Blake, a left-wing political activist for almost all her 90 years – not just names but great stories.
8. They don’t have to be old or wide-ranging We’ve run obituaries for people from a 10-year-old severely disabled girl to centenarians, from people who barely left their suburbs to adventurers all over the world. A life’s interest isn’t measured by time or distance.
9. Remember, people have parents 6. Sometimes you have to juggle newsworthiness Recently, Lucian Freud and Amy Winehouse died a few days apart with a weekend in the middle. Both important – so who goes first? That time, we went with chronological. The film directors Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni died on July 30, 2007: it was a toss-up but we went with Bergman on July 31 and Antonioni on August 1. Pity poor Randolph Churchill (Winston’s son), who spent years saying that he hadn’t done much but at least when he died he’d make the front page of The Times. Then he died on the day (June 6, 1968) that Robert Kennedy was shot and got rather lost in the shuffle.
Many obituaries submitted to us start when the subject is 21, as though they had no parents or background. Please start at the beginning and remember that the mother is half the DNA. One worthy army gentleman recently apparently had no mother; even his birth notice, which we tracked back to The Age during World War I, listed him only as the son of his father.
10. Remember the photo
7. Remember, everyone can be interesting
A good photograph can really sell a story and we’re happy to take photographs from any time in the subject’s life. Frances Hollebecq in her thirties in her perfect afternoon dress and hat, Stetson Kennedy dressed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan, Nancy Eastick in the 1950s with her PNG Girl Guide troop and Patricia Brennan in orange sweeping her arm up – all great pictures that added oomph to great stories.
People expect the famous on the obituary pages, but the obituaries they love and talk about are ordinary people they’d probably never heard of before. People such as Maurie Daly, president
Harriet Veitch is The Sydney Morning Herald’s obituaries editor Ron Tandberg has twice won the Gold Walkley
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