Maybe it’s time to shoot the messenger

Ask scientists, economists, sociologists, futurologists and most experts what is the greatest single threat facing the human race and the most common response is likely to be “climate change”. Discounting transient crises, why is climate change not constantly on front pages and leading news bulletins? Why is the environment reporter so far beneath the political editor? What IS going on? Read More

When news hounds should back off

Disasters bring out the best and worst in us, magnifying both good and bad. Almost inevitably journalists will be condemned at some stage in covering disasters, especially when our initial shock wears off. It has been labelled disaster porn and few sectors of the media are spared, whether a camera crew chasing exhausted rescuers or newspaper photographs of dead or dying children. So how far should we go? Read More

Goodbye Mr Grass Roots

An era of sorts ended in 2011 with the death of cartoonist Bob Browne, the creator of Mr Grass Roots, perhaps Papua New Guinea’s most loved comic character, “the social conscience of PNG”. Browne’s life and work could be read as an allegory of change in the Pacific. He came as a British volunteer in 1971 and stayed through thick and thin until his death. This was one of our best-read articles, proving journalism is about people. Read More

Look-at-me journalism all the rage

It’s not easy being a foreign correspondent in a crisis. They often find themselves part of the story they’re covering, so the secret is to be present but translucent, letting the story shine through their own experiences, offering their audience a guiding hand without their own voice overwhelming the narrative. Not all reporters do this well all the time and they fall victim to “look at me journalism”. Here’s a cautionary tale. Read More

One person’s meat is another’s poison

After every mass killing, blogs and forums brim with accusations how the media may have prompted the event. We respond that we’re only doing our job, but sometimes we should consider how much we are to blame, if not for whipping up hatred then at least for aiding and abetting those who do. It’s one of the great questions of journalism: “How responsible are we, as journalists, for the negative effects of things we report?” Read More

That was the year that wasn’t

We are now in the third decade of the 21st Century, so what has happened in the last 10 years? Certainly, had it not been for WikiLeaks, 2010 itself might have gone down as another forgettable year for media in Australia and around the world, few examples of great journalism, no breathtaking, game-changing technical innovations, not even any great “end-of-an-era” events at which we could pause and take stock. Read More

The War of News Corp – Hold the front page!

When UK Minister Vince Cable declared war on News Corp, he was only playing catch-up, for Rupert Murdoch’s media empire had been at war with British, American, Australian and other governments for decades. The “Dirty Digger” is not into media ownership and empire-building for the public good or the sake of some higher moral principle. He does it for the power to make or break democratically elected governments. Read More

Don’t try this at home, children

It’s 10 years since Wikileaks dropped its first load of explosive government leaks on the world and the ripples continue. Few WikiLeaks supporters really believe the world can exist if everyone is absolutely truthful with each other; some “economy with the truth” is needed to oil the wheels of diplomacy. They know. We know. Now they know we know. It’s a brave new world of diplomacy but please, kids, don’t try this at home. Read More

Cuts in news send strange signals from SBS

Cuts in SBS Television’s news staff could, ironically, signal Australia’s multicultural broadcaster is trying to get back on track. SBS TV News has been the darling of Managing Directors for many years, so to see it under the axe suggests something strange is happening at SBS. And on the general assumption that things cannot get any worse for the embattled broadcaster, anything – however strange – might herald hope. … Read More

The many voices of one Australia – just not inside the building please!

SBS was once renowned as “the many voices of one Australia”, but now it’s decided it doesn’t need as many in the actual building. It’s decision to outsource large parts of it’s world-famous Subtitling Unit is not just a sign of how far it has strayed from its multicultural charter but is also a clever way of chanelling taxpayer funding to the private sector. … Read More