Category Archives: General

Topics which don’t easily fall into a specific category or which cover all categories

The aerobic art of interviewing

One of the most important skills of great journalism is not so much the questions we ask as the answers we hear. We get that by focusing on our interviewees and listening intently to what they say. Award-winning writer and broadcaster Siobhán McHugh writes about ‘aerobic listening’. It can be exhausting but it helps subjects to open up – like a force field. Here she shares the secret of aerobic listening in difficult interviews. Read More

American exceptionalism built wall with the world.

It is the fate of all empires to be despised by their vassals. But that was before the Information Age. Now all bets are off. Now empires have the media tools to mould their image overseas while their foreign subjects can see right into the heart of their overlord’s domain. So why are Americans making such a mess of being a superpower? And what role do the media play in building a wall between the US and the rest of the world? Read More

Finding truth through common sense

In the days before the digital revolution, discovering truth seemed a relatively simple matter – find people we could trust and go with what they said. With the Internet and social media, things have become a lot more complicated. Information is everywhere and journalists are losing the ability to determine who to trust. So, let’s put some science back into common sense and use it to fight the scourge of the 21st Information Century – fake news. Read More

A right to be wrong?

At the height of Australia’s bushfire emergency, Michael Pengilly, the mayor of Kangaroo Island in Australia, attacked climate scientists and former US president Barack Obama, saying climate change was not connected with the island’s horrific fires. When criticised online, Pengilly said he had a right to air his opinions. He was not the first person in the democratic world to claim such a “right”. But does it exist? Read More

Whistleblowers – conscience of a shameless age

With the continuing persecution of Julian Assange, one of our country’s and this century’s most famous whistleblowers, it is timely that all nations – but especially democracies – remind themselves that a whistleblower is not a traitor, just someone who sees something wrong, consults their conscience and exposes the wrongdoing contrary to the wishes of those with power to conceal it from their fellow citizens. Read More

Distrust is the greatest threat to peace

We live in dangerous times, in a world of crumbling trust. The fear and confusion this engenders has spread across almost all societies around the world – free and oppressive, democratic and authoritarian, east and west, north and south, rich and poor. Increasingly, no-one is immune and if we are unaware of the crisis that is because either we are the victims of our government’s duplicity or we are wilfully blinkered. Read More

Kicking the can of liberty along the road

Issues of freedom of speech come in all shapes and sizes, from those central to democracy to those that are just cover for personal obsessions. Two current cases in Australia are just the most recent in a seemingly endless cycle of outrage then nothing getting fixed … kicking the can. One involves government oppression of whistle-blowers and the media. The other a millionaire sportsman asked to choose between the pitch and the pulpit. Read More

Facts or fiction: Putting the writer inside the story

News reporting and journalists are under attacks not witnessed in a generation or more. How much is our fault and what can be done? Low public trust is partly driven by self-interested claims of “fake news” and partly because a race to the bottom. Perhaps also we have played too close to the fires of fiction and been scorched. If it is too late to firewall journalism, how can writers navigate the borderland between fact and fiction? Read More

Welcome to journalism-free journalism

Encouraged to embrace social media, are real journalists now paying too high a price for the convenience of “information everywhere all the time”? Serious professional journalists have long been urged to integrate social media into their work. It’s a great tool for digging into events and harvesting opinions that might otherwise be “mediated out” by gatekeepers who don’t want inconvenient truths exposed. But at what cost? Read More

Honesty still best policy for global broadcasters

Two events showed honesty is the best policy in the complex world of international broadcasting. The first was an analyses of plans to cut off funding to Australia’s overseas television service, Australia Network. The second was a Russian Government decision not to renew the contract for the US international broadcaster Voice of America to beam programs from transmitters within the former Soviet republic. Read More