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

There is often a fine line between reporting tragedy and making it. Society’s seemingly insatiable appetite to see, read and hear of fellow humans in trouble can lead journalists into thinking we’re just doing what the public wants. But how far can we intrude into the grief of victims and survivors? As Australia recovers from more horrific bushfires, we look back at 2009, which brought out the best and the worst in the media. Read More

Can journalism survive modern media warfare?

Manipulation of the media by people who have power is not new, but is it getting more cunning and insidious? The seemingly endless conflict in Gaza in early 2009 showed how difficult life could 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 shrapnel from public relations spin too. Read More

When journalists fall from grace – sometimes they’re victims too

Journalism can be a dangerous business wherever it’s practised. Though experienced reporters get used to navigating foreign cultures and alien customs, sometimes the greatest dangers are hidden away from the front line. The case of Australian broadcaster Peter Lloyd brought home the need for journalists to take extra care of themselves wherever they are, even when the pressure seems to be off. Read More

Who is killing SBS?

Why did Mary Kostakidis really quit? What made David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz flee to the ABC? How many millions did SBS actually spend on Top Gear? Why was a millionaire fashion designer really appointed to head an Australian public broadcaster? Sorry, but you won’t find your answers in “The SBS Story”.

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Why media freedom is important to us all

In the often rocky relationship between journalists and governments, it is a sad truth that we are often liked best when we are at our worst, and disliked most when we are at our best. Few governments like a free and unrestrained media to criticise them, give voice to opposing views and expose corruption. In opposition, those same politicians support free media. So it is important journalists hold true to core principles. Read More

When campaigning journalism backfires

A decision by an Australian court that an accused paedophile must be set free because he could not get a fair trial sent a clear warning about the limits of campaigning journalism in free societies. While the media play a vital role in exposing crimes and corruption, we are just one of the four pillars holding up western democracies. Independent courts are another and it pays not to cross them without a very good reason. Read More

Dilemma of receiving lost documents

Finders keepers? A highly sensitive, controversial, confidential document found on a train seat or cafe table is every journalist’s dream, presenting the possibility of a scoop of a lifetime. But it’s not yours, right? Should you give it back unread or publish and be damned? The practical and ethical choices – and the consequences – should give us all pause for thought. Read More

Prince Harry at war

When should the media exercise self-censorship? Reporting when the British Royal Prince Harry was posted to his army unit in the Gulf sparked an international debate about media responsibility when lives might be put at risk. It also contained some useful lessons for the spin doctors on how they should relate to journalists when trust is required from all parties involved. Read More

Journalists killed on duty

Journalism can be a very dangerous business. When we hear that as many as a hundred are killed each year just doing their job, we immediately picture war reporters. But for all the glamour attached to the dangerous lives of front-line correspondents from the western media, most journalists are killed reporting in their own countries, often in oppressive regimes or lawless societies. And the toll continues each year. Read More