The bad news SBS was never going to report – about itself.

When a news organisation discovers bad news about itself, the temptation is to junk its commitment to free and fearless reporting and bury the story. When the bad news is about how unhappy staff are with their bosses, the temptation is overwhelming. That’s what happened to SBS when it unwisely asked its staff what they thought about their managers – and the staff told them in no uncertain terms. … Read More

SBS’s lost decade – an accident or vandalism?

As SBS attempts to chart a new course after the 10-year reign of fashion designer Carla Zampatti as Chairman, we look back at what many critics say was not so much a series of bungles and missed opportunities but more a lost decade in the multicultural broadcaster’s once-illustrious history. How much was the wrong person in the wrong job and how much the result of a conscious policy of the Howard Government? … Read More

When humour is no laughing matter

Humour is a funny thing … and sometimes it’s not. Frequent high-profile blunders and controversial cases of misfired humour in the media have failed to remind us time-and-again how tricky humour – especially satire – can be. Now, ten years on from Channel Nine’s infamous “blackface incident”, have Australian broadcasters actually learned anything? … Read More

Who let the racist cats out of the bag?

Reactions to attacks on Indian students in Australia show how far our discussion on race has deteriorated, with ethnic lobby groups themselves among the guilty. Critics have long argued that while Australia is not a racist country there is a vein of racism running through society that must be constantly worked on. Has neglect let the racist cats out of the bag? … Read More

Can the ethnic lobby save Australia’s multicultural broadcaster?

The likely merger of the ABC and SBS was the elephant in the room during a senate estimates hearing in the Australian Federal Parliament. But is the threat of losing an independent multicultural broadcaster enough to galvanise renewed support from the ethnic lobby? In 1986 such a threat brought thousands onto the streets in protest but can ethnic leaders rally their supporters today? Or is it too little too late? … Read More

Women and war reporting

War was once almost wholly the domain of male journalists but increasingly women journalists and female crew are reporting from the front lines. So is it time more women got to tell the stories behind the bombs and bullets? And can the media improve the way women are portrayed in conflict zones? … Read More

Who will blink first?

Fiji’s military dictator and recently re-elected Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama wanted to be remembered as a man who implemented reform. But it is the very journalists he is now bullying who will be writing his legacy. Almost 10 years have now passed since this article was first published, but has anything really changed in the Pacific islands state? … Read More

Vultures or doves? When journalists can do harm in covering tragedy.

There is often a fine line in journalism between reporting tragedy and making it. Society’s seemingly insatiable emotional appetite to see, read and hear of fellow humans in trouble can lead reporters into thinking they’re just doing what the public wants when they intrude into the grief of victims and survivors. But how far can that justification really stretch? Tragedies like the Victorian Bushfires in 2009 brought out the best and the worst in the media. … Read More

Can journalism survive modern media warfare?

The management of the media by people who have power over information is not new, but is it getting more clever and insidious? The conflict in Gaza in early 2009 showed how difficult life can be for journalists reporting from the front line of conflicts. It’s not just a matter of dodging bullets and shells but trying to avoid the public relations spin too. Read More