One of JERAA's major projects is The Junction, a publication that showcases the best of Australian university student journalism and allows universities to work together to produce impactful and creative reportage. It takes students’ work to wider audiences and encourages those audiences to visit the publications of university journalism programs. It improves the experience of learning the craft of journalism and seeks to serve the public good by producing and publishing public interest reporting. The Junction builds on everything we’ve learnt from producing journalism at universities and  from working together. 

The Junction


2019 JERAA Conference:  Sydney University.

2020 JERAA Conference: RMIT University, Melbourne

2021 JERAA Conference: Open for nominations

2022 JERAA Conference: Open for nominations



About this page

Academics from more than 20 universities – many of them also seasoned journalists – are guiding students in their coverage of the national election with stories on targeted electorates being published on The Junction.

Anne Dunn Scholar of the Year: TJ Thomson

Congratulations to this year's Anne Dunn Scholar, QUT's TJ Thomson.

TJ Thomson


Statement regarding Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on Australian media

By JERAA Executive, and Johan Lidberg, Monash University 

The last few days have been very dark for press freedom and independent journalism in Australia. The JERAA executive condemns in the strongest possible terms the extremely heavy-handed approach displayed by the Australian Federal Police. Within 24 hours the AFP raided the home of award-winning News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and then the ABC headquarters in Sydney. Journalist Ben Fordham was also questioned by the Dept of Home Affairs about the source of his recent story on asylum seekers, and warned that he has published potentially confidential information that he should not be in the possession of.

The JERAA executive fully supports and stands by Ms Smethurst, the ABC reporters and producers and 2GB journalist, Ben Fordham. Common to all these journalists is the fact that they were practicing public interest journalism.

JERAA members have noted in their research that Australian governments from both sides of politics have been keen to pass or amend anti-terror/national security legislation (60 plus laws since September 11, 2001), which has laid the foundation for the legal intimidation we have witnessed in the last few days.

These laws, in combination with the draconian sections in our criminal codes limiting public servants’ ability to communicate maladministration and corruption to journalists, has created very serious challenges for whistle blowers and journalists. We now have a situation where whistle blowers are pursued instead of thanked for their bravery. The federal Australian government has increased its attempts to ‘kill the messengers’, instead of dealing with the problems the messengers point out.

This sort of behaviour from authorities is not worthy of a mature liberal democracy and is an international embarrassment for Australia. The JERAA executive notes that JERAA members have been contacted by reporters from international news organisation seeking their expert comments on the raids. These news organisations have expressed disbelief that such raids on public interest journalism can take place in a long-standing liberal democracy. The Columbia Journalism Review news editor Jon Allsop has noted that “Raiding a newsroom, setting up camp there, and combing through its internal files—with the right to edit and delete them—is the sort of thing that happens in a police state, not an established democracy.”

Home affairs minister Peter Dutton and Attorney General Christian Porter have a lot of questions to answer in the next few days. One of the crucial ones being – why was the ABC search warrant so incredibly broad, allowing AFP staff to not only access the ABC systems, but also to delete and add information in the ABC’s systems?

The state of exception and paradigm of fear now appears to be the norm in Australia. This will not reflect well on Australia’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index next year, and raises questions about the future of public interest journalism, only a year after the Federal government concluded an Inquiry into its health.

JERAA Executive and Associate Professor Johan Lidberg

June 5, 2019.


Australian first student national election TV broadcast 

By Alex Wake, JERAA

Students enrolled in journalism programs around Australia are working on the first national student election broadcast for the 2019 election, underpinned by a generous contribution from the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

Academics from more than 20 universities – many of them also seasoned journalists – are guiding students in their coverage of the national election with stories on targeted electorates being published on The Junction.

Student reporters are also preparing for a live television program, Election 2019, broadcast on Melbourne-based community TV station Channel 31 from 6 pm (AEST) on May 18. The TV program will be relayed to Adelaide and Perth, as well as CBAA’s network of radio stations.

Their stories and pre-election training materials are also being livestreamed via The Junction’s facebook page.

The Junction is a project of the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia.

President Dr Alex Wake said the project showed the collegiality of Australian journalism academics.

“JERAA’s number one aim is to raise the standard of teaching in journalism in Australia, and what better way to teach students than by producing important stories in a live-to-air format for television and online.”

The program will be hosted by two students, Rachael Merritt from RMIT University and Ari Balle-Bowness from Griffith University, alongside experienced television guest commentators Paul Strangio and Mary Delahunty.

The television producers and crew are also students, working under the guidance of experienced production staff in RMIT’s studios in Melbourne.

Student training materials have been prepared with the assistance of high profile Australian and international political journalists including Barrie Cassidy, Patricia Karvelas, Madeleine Morris , Sarah Jaensch, Ashlynne McGhee and Kyle Pope (Columbia Journalism Review).

The 2019 broadcast and training materials have been boosted by a generous contribution from the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

JNI Board Member Mark Ryan said the JERAA Australia Votes project was a good example of the kind of collaboration the Institute was keen to pursue.

“It’s early days for JNI but we want to work with media organisations of all kinds and encourage journalists of the future too.

“This project is a great way for us to support and connect with some of Australia’s most respected journalism educators and their students.

“It’s a creative and very practical exercise that will develop skills and build experience for young reporters.”

This national election project builds on the success of the 2018 Victoria Votes television program, and the 2015 Uni Poll Watch initiative.

The Junction editor Ass Prof Andrew Dodd is overseeing the website coverage, while the television coverage is being led by Phil Kafcaloudes.

Ass Prof Dodd said, “The Junction allows university journalism schools in Australia and the Pacific to work together on all sorts of reporting projects.

“Our 2019 election coverage demonstrates how we collaborate to bring new perspectives to important topics for the benefit of  student reporters and public audiences.”

JERAA would like to thank each of the participating academics for their work on this project, particularly the editorial board for The Junction: Andrew Dodd, University of Melbourne;  Kayt Davies, Edith Cowan University;  Peter English, University of the Sunshine Coast; Colleen Murrell, Swinburne University;  Matthew Ricketson, Deakin University;  Margaret Van Heekeren, Sydney University; and  Phil Kafcaloudes, RMIT University: 

The universities which have so far signed up to take part are featured here.

29 April, 2019



copy editing


Can two dozens subs reserve reverse the rot? 

By Trina McLellan 

Downsizing has done few favours for Australia’s newsrooms. In fact, it has been a wicked joke that became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

While it might satisfy bean-counters and profit-seekers, downsizing has sacrificed critical production skills, done irreparable harm to the quality of the end product, proven the law of diminishing returns when it comes to audience respect and severely damaged democracy.

For instance, where once a newspaper reporter’s story would be previewed firstly by the chief-of-staff then a copy taster before the chief sub-editor would assign it to an up-table or down-table sub-editor, depending on where in the paper the piece was to run.

The sub-editor would ensure the copy was well-written, accurate, legally sound and complied with house style before fitting it into a prescribed space and sending the subbed copy, its headline/s, any images and their captions to a typesetter (and perhaps even a photoengraver).

Then a compositor would lay out the page and a stone sub would do a visual check before sending the page to a proof reader, whose job it was to ensure the final copy really had zero spelling, grammar or layout errors and that the publisher’s house style had indeed been followed.

After the publication was printed, sub-editors would comb over every single page, from top to bottom, looking for missing elements, corrections or improvements to be made ahead of the next edition.

Feedback was fast and typically blunt. But everyone took away acute lessons, including an understanding that, along with deadlines, accuracy was imperative, and that the audience’s respect was contingent on the product being clean, clear and objective.

And, with military precision, news production would work like a well-oiled machine, with all the parts meshing in unison as the news of the day rolled off the presses, edition after edition.

Everyone was kept honest back then because readers, subscribers, parents, teachers – and especially editors – would complain, loudly, about the slightest mistake, factual error or misspelling. However, journalists were, in the main, justifiably proud of what they produced.

Fast forward to today when frazzled reporters file news copy that may not have another human being look over it before it is published online.

Even copy that’s destined for a newspaper might only be skimmed by a harried back-bencher who is looking after half a newspaper – or more – on their own.

The AgeHighly competent print sub-editors – who nearly a decade ago started cross-training as online news producers, only to then be culled as their print production roles were outsourced to cut-price sweat shops – are now as rare as hen’s teeth.

Outsourced page production sees distant, even offshore, “sub hubs” churning out spreads at a pace that defies the achievement of even passable quality.

Essential skills have been lost, mistakes are far too common, style is now secondary, local knowledge is frequently absent, content is no longer king, quality is considered unaffordable, and readers have abandoned once-great mastheads at frightening rates.

Combined with the shrinkage in available reporters, downsizing has changed the complexion of news – whether it be delivered online or in print – in other ways.

Where once headstrong editors would have to defend their editorial decisions to a phalanx of highly experienced peers, today they face a mere handful of exhausted colleagues desperately hanging on to their jobs by a thread.

This week’s news that Fairfax, at least, is stepping back from outsourcing production of most of its news pages is a step in the right direction. But injecting 24 sub-editors across two major metropolitan mastheads would appear far from enough to arrest the downward slide.

Trina McLellan is a former senior metro newspaper sub-editor who has transitioned into radio program production and an occasional tertiary journalism teacher. She shares skillshighlights bloopers and mentors early career journalists.



Suppression orders reveal 'toxic relationship' between courts and the press

By  Lucy Smy,  Centre for Advancing Journalism

As 36 journalists, editors and media companies come before the Supreme Court accused of breaking the George Pell suppression order, it is further evidence of what experts are describing as a ‘toxic relationship’ between the courts and the press.

In his review of Victoria’s Open Courts Act, currently before parliament, retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Vincent found that around 40 per cent of the suppression orders granted in Victoria were either blanket bans or bans without stated judicial grounds, which he said should only have been used in exceptional circumstances.

Justice Vincent blamed a ‘toxic relationship’ that had developed between judges in Victoria and journalists for this level of suppression orders. He said the courts had become “very sensitive” to media criticism. “I think that led to an unnecessary making of orders. It doesn't matter whether you're a judge or in any other occupation, you don't really like being criticized. And still less do you like being criticised, if you think it's unfair,” he said.

Sitting on a panel organised by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism, Justice Vincent disagreed vehemently with two journalists who had sat all through the trial unable to write because of the suppression order, but who were in favour of it.

Only a tiny handful of journalists sat all the way through the Pell trial. They sat for 10 weeks through a first trial ending in a hung jury, followed immediately by a retrial. It was a commitment of time and resource that changed those involved. In contrast to the crowd of journalists and editors now charged with contempt, this handful of journalists have not been charged.

During their extended period in court, the journalists said they became convinced that if the suppression order had been lifted the second trial Pell faced – the swimmers trial – would be jeopardised and the media would be responsible for a failure of justice.

Lucie Morris-Marr, reporter for CNN and The New Daily admitted her respect for the suppression order hadn’t come naturally. She said: “We like sharing stories. We like breaking exclusives. We like telling people. That's the nature and DNA of a journalist. We don't like keeping secrets and at the beginning of the Pell trial I was very much ‘Oh this is annoying! I want to share it.’ But actually, as I went through I realized how fragile that courtroom was. It was fragile, like an eggshell.”

Melissa Davey, bureau chief for The Guardian Australia in Melbourne, said: “The key fact is in this case is that Pell was to face another trial. Think about the coverage over the past couple of weeks and just how much you have seen of Pell. Would it be possible to empanel an unbiased jury in the face of all of that coverage?”

Although there was disagreement on the need for a suppression order on the Pell trial, both the journalists and judge agreed that there was a conversation about Victoria’s use of suppression orders overall.

Ms Davey said: “There’s undoubtedly a need for a conversation about the overuse of suppression orders. And, there’s also a really useful conversation about how effective suppression orders can be in this era of social media.”

Justice Vincent had examined the challenge posed to suppression orders by social media in his report. He said: “I think the struggle to suppress is going to often be quite fruitless. I think the emphasis ought to be more directed to ensuring that the system can cope. With the fact that more and more people are going to know more and more stuff. And that we're going to have to adapt our procedures.”

Dr Jason Bosland, co-director of the Centre for Media and Communications Law at the University of Melbourne and a leading researcher into open justice, questioned whether Victoria deserved its reputation as the suppression order capital of Australia. Overall, Victorian courts do issue the largest number of suppression orders, but per head of population, the number is actually lower than in South Australia, which has the most closely comparable legal system. Dr Bosland said: “I would say that that indicates that we don't have a problem with suppression orders in Victoria. We have a problem with suppression orders in Australia.”

The public panel on suppression orders versus open justice after the Pell trial was held by the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne on 13 March. A Media Files podcast was made from a recording of the event and is hosted by The Conversation.

An introduction to the laws of war for journalism students 

ICRC in Hodeida, Yemen. Photographer - Abduljabbar Zeyad

ICRC in Hodeida, Yemen. Photographer - Abduljabbar Zeyad.

By Patrick Griffiths, Red Cross

It may seem that training for journalists by The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) presents something of a paradox.

Journalists prize transparency – while the ICRC finds much of its humanitarian work is most effective when reported in confidence.

Journalism is turning towards open systems and methods of participation – while the ICRC upholds protecting sensitive data and information relating to those caught in conflict as a core value.

If these seem like contradictions, they are not irreconcilable. The ICRC has long held dialogues with journalists, and for good reason.

We both care about people: putting them at the centre, sharing stories of strength from those who suffer. It is a very humanitarian interest.

For that reason, and for the first time, the ICRC is adapting its training tool for media professionals, The Story Behind the Story, for journalism students whose careers may take them to conflict zones.

The ICRC is an exclusively humanitarian organisation with close to 17,000 staff in more than 80 countries working to protect and assist people caught up in armed conflict.

The mandate for the ICRC’s mission comes from international humanitarian law (IHL) – or the laws of war – that protects people not taking part in hostilities while also limiting the conduct of warfare.

The ICRC's Australia Mission based in Canberra wants to work with journalism students to raise awareness of where our work intersects with their future careers reporting from the field

Globally, the ICRC runs dozens of media training sessions every year, helping journalists understand the IHL that can apply when reporting from conflict zones.

The point is not to turn journalists into lawyers but for them to leave this training with a good understanding of the legal framework, who it protects, how it affects their work and where to learn more.

For journalism students, we can give them the tools to:

* use the law to inform their reporting and editorial decisions, describe what they are witnessing, and make their coverage more accurate and compelling;

* understand when IHL is being violated or upheld;

* understand how IHL protects them and help them avoid harm;

* get familiar with the components and principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and know how to best interact with humanitarian organizations.

The Story Behind the Story resource is a specifically designed tool that includes slides, videos, soundbites, exercises, handouts and a glossary across five modules of content.

As a standardized ICRC training tool, it can be used and tailored to fit specific needs.

In Australia, the ICRC is exploring ways that the Story Behind the Story can feature or be integrated into journalism courses at universities.

We see it as a unique opportunity for media students who are interested in working abroad, to inform their reporting and decision-making.

Except for some online resources, the content is designed to be delivered by the ICRC and is something I or my colleagues would be happy to travel to facilitate.

The delivery of the content for journalism students is without cost and will be adapted from the original module content aimed at working journalists and spanning two days when delivered in full.

Adapting the content in this way allows the ICRC to meet the needs of individual universities in terms of duration, format and focus.

This could vary from voluntary lunchtime presentations to guest lectures or even regular spots within curriculums.

An outline of the five modules is detailed below:

* Module 1: The Law of War and Reporting

o States the focus of this workshop - International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Explains the role of the ICRC in promoting this body of law and looks at the reasons for which this workshop is a very useful tool for media professionals reporting on armed conflicts.

* Module 2a-b: The Law of War – International Humanitarian Law

o Aims at strengthening media professionals in their capacity to comment on the way IHL is respected or violated by the parties to a conflict. It provides information on the situations in which IHL applies and describes the aims and the main rules of IHL.

* Module 3: Safety of Journalists

o Aims to raise awareness among media professionals of the protection they enjoy under IHL and provides information on the support they can expect from different organizations in missions to conflict zones.

* Module 4a-b: International Crimes

o Strengthens media professionals' knowledge about international crimes, the various forms of criminal responsibility and those forums that deal with international crimes. It also helps journalists to understand their role in international justice mechanisms.

* Module 5: About the ICRC

o A collection of resources that can be used to present the ICRC, the Movement, the emblems, the principles.

A link to an accompanying ICRC webpage of IHL resources for media professionals is also available here.

If interested in adapting this content for your institution, please contact Pat Griffiths, communications officer with The International Committee of the Red Cross in Canberra. or +61 418 485 120.



How to Mojo: integrating mobile learning in journalism education


Corinne Podger training for Oxfam in Fiji in December 2018. Photo: Ricardo Morris.


By Corrine Podger

A growing number of universities and colleges are teaching mobile journalism, including the University of Melbourne, which introduced it for the first time in 2018.

While smartphones are ubiquitous, teaching students industry best practice in their use is not always straightforward. Mojo teachers find themselves confronting polymorphous definitions – including what ‘mobile journalism’ actually is.  All kinds of content creators self-describe as ‘mobile journalists’, including photographers, radio producers, podcasters, filmmakers and TV reporters.

How they use the device will vary too; some journalists insist that mojo means shoot-editing entirely in the phone; others disagree if they have access to (or are required to use) desktop software for post-production.

‘Mobile’ can also refer equally to a phone, or to agile reporting; and the growing number of sub-2kg prosumer camcorders and lightweight DSLRs has led some to question whether smartphone journalism will even be with us much longer.

Definitions are further complicated by the co-option of ‘mobile journalism’ as a professional descriptor by people who aren’t journalists. It was for this reason that Torben Stephan, commissioned me to write the Mobile Journalism Manual for Reporters and Newsrooms in April last year in the final months of his term as director of Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung’s Media Programme Asia.

Stephan rejects the idea that device choice confers professional status.

“Although mobile devices are bringing new approaches, workflows, frameworks and possibilities, it is important to understand that mobile journalism is still journalism,” he told the International Journalists’ Network last May.

“Journalists’ knowledge and skills are still necessary even as they transition to mojo: find a story, get the sources of information, be accurate, follow the basic rules of storytelling and be ethical. All these new tools are nothing if there is not quality and professionalism.”

Unsurprisingly, approaches to teaching are evolving fast, according to Mary Ferguson, who tutors in Broadcast and Digital Media at the University of Bedfordshire, which – like many institutions – has built mojo into an existing subject.

“I’ve only begun to deliver mobile journalism into my curriculum this academic year, but it has already become apparent that the complexities around mojo really need a separate unit where storytelling, end-to-end workflows and technologies are taught with assessment at the end. This is on the cards for our next periodic review.”

Other institutions give mojo standalone status, to cover conventional and emerging storytelling approaches, formats and technologies for video, audio and photographic journalism. Both approaches have benefits, but neither produces an expert practitioner across all formats and platforms. This might be an argument for creating advanced units at Masters or Graduate Certificate level, something that’s under consideration at some universities in North America and Europe, although the market for such courses is untested.

“Change is happening so quickly that we don’t even have all the nouns we need,” says Assistant Professor Susan Newhook, from the School of Journalism at University of Kings College in Halifax, Canada.

“In academic environments where it can take more than a year to add a single course to the calendar, the development of innovative mobile curricula may need to move off campus, or at least outside core curriculum and into added-value workshops, seminars and major research assignments.”

For educators working in this space, here are some closing thoughts:

Smartphones are supremely role-agnostic. They can support investigative reporting (via encrypted chat apps like Signal), radio and podcast production (with multi-track editing apps like Ferrite), TV editing (via broadcast NLE apps like Luma Fusion) and motion graphics design (via Alight Motion, an Android app that will be joined by an IOS equivalent this year).  

Any journalist who uses a smartphone to do their job can arguably be regarded as a ‘mobile journalist’. Taking a catholic approach to an agnostic device helps reporters and students develop and strengthen the digital mindset needed in today’s multi-platform, multi-tasking newsrooms.

Mojo encourages the tearing down of silos between newsroom roles and journalistic disciplines, Newhook observes. “As the barriers come down, training not just in practical skills but in the approaches and tropes of conventional multimedia reporting becomes important too – for camera operators, editors, video and radio reporters, producers, photographers and graphic designers. This supports innovation and improves techniques and workflows – and the smartphone can even provide a virtual meeting place for these conversations.”

For more information, consult the Mobile Journalism Manual for Reporters and Newsrooms by Corinne Podger (c) Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2018.

Corinne Podger is a casual lecturer in Digital and Mobile Journalism at the University of Melbourne, and a consulting trainer in digital strategy, mobile journalism and social media for media development agencies including Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung, BBC Media Action and the World Association of Newspaper Editors. Contact Corinne on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn


Responsible Reporting of Violence Against Women Curriculum 



By Caitlyn Hoggan


OurWatch has developed a suite of curriculum materials on reporting of violence against women for journalism students and are seeking to further trial the curriculum with Universities in semester 1 2019.


On any understanding of news values, violence against women is an enormous news and human-interest story. Violence Against Women is about human rights, crime, law enforcement, the economy, health and gender equality. There are very few aspects of life in Australia that are not touched by this issue. It underlies homelessness, economic disadvantage, mental health and many other issues.


Research has shown that who or what is selected to appear in the news and how those individuals or events are portrayed can have a significant impact on people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviours (Flood & Pease, 2009). As such, news media is an ideal site to foster attitudes that support gender equality and condemn violence, but reporting on Violence against Women can be complex and difficult.


The curriculum materials have been developed in partnership with Associate Professor Margaret Simons, the DART Centre and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre, and are designed to be flexible and can be used in the wide variety of ways in which journalism skills are taught in Australian tertiary institutions. Those Universities that trial the curriculum will be required to support and participate in the evaluation of curriculum materials. This evaluation will identify areas for improvement of the curriculum and ways to better support educators.


Some courses will be able to dedicate a full three weeks of their curriculum to this issue, others will need to be selective in identifying what and how the materials will be incorporated. Adapting the materials to suit your needs is encouraged. The curriculum materials include: 

  1. Three lessons: Lectures of between 45 minutes and an hour, comprising teaching notes and PowerPoint slides. 
  • Lesson One: Understanding Violence against Women 
  • Lesson Two: Finding things out 
  • Lesson Three: Communicating the results 
  1. Suggested essay questions, journalistic assignments and seminar activities
  1. Core readings for undergraduates and postgraduates.
  1. Example stories from a variety of media which are referred to throughout the lectures.
  2. Breakout Lectures: provides examples of many issues that are taught in many journalism courses, including
  • Gendered newsrooms 
  • News sense 
  • Objectivity 
  • Interviewing traumatised people 
  • Reporting from Indigenous communities  


For those interested in finding out more about the curriculum, and trialling the resources, please contact Caitlyn Hoggan, Senior Practice Advisor at OurWatch. Email:


What’s in a name? Many journalists may feel nostalgic today as Fairfax Media merges with Nine Entertainment. Denise Ryan Costello attempts to explain why.

Denise Ryan

Denise Ryan Costello and the late News Corp journalist Annette Finnigan in Sydney, 1987.

By Denise Ryan Costello

To enter the Fairfax building on Sydney’s Broadway, you first had to acknowledge the homeless man living outside, sometimes with coins; other days with a cooked chicken.

Then, in the lift, you could study the top of Warwick Fairfax’s head as he studiously avoided eye contact.

You towered over the part-owner of Fairfax only because of heels, a shoulder-padded suit, very big hair and enormous owl-like glasses.

This was the ‘80s and you were living the dream. A very independent one as a ‘foreign correspondent’, posted to Fairfax’s Sydney headquarters from Wellington, New Zealand.

Being a correspondent for National Business Review, Kiwi sister to the Australian Financial Review, meant being parked outside a senior AFR writer’s office. He chain-smoked, which in hindsight meant you stank.

No point in complaining because you had no rights - you were the newcomer and these were acceptable working conditions at the time.

Instead you revelled in the fact that your job was – and this expression was most appropriate then – ‘to keep the bastards honest’.

This foreign correspondent stint was not dangerous, even though you enjoyed the same benefits as someone posted to Beirut. It could be exciting though when you boarded helicopters at short notice to skirt around the latest building purchased by the likes of Alan Bond.

Fairfax’s allocation for accommodation allowed for rental of a tiny, but perfectly formed apartment in Darling Point. The harbour bridge could be seen even from the loo, which made it the venue of choice for the Bicentennial celebrations. So many boats in the harbour that day, fellow journalists felt they could walk on water.

The quid pro pro for the benefits was having to work all the time, including for now defunct papers such as the Times on Sunday and Business Review Weekly.

It wasn’t surprising that the more excessive aspects of this life – the apartment, for example – only lasted 18 months.

On October 19, 1987, a strange primal moan emitted from the crowd, noses pressed against the glass, at the Sydney Stock Exchange. Global sharemarkets were crashing after record bullish times - and the net worth of many was evaporating.

Your lift companion, Warwick Fairfax, had unwisely made a $2.2 billion takeover bid for Fairfax just before the Black Monday crash. The 26-year-old wanted to take the company back into the fold. Instead the family dynasty lost control and the company went into receivership in 1990.

Warwick’s machinations affected staff lifestyles. In this case, there was still a job but no digs. You didn’t raise this with ‘Young Wokka’, as he was cruelly dubbed, when you both entered the Fairfax building around 9am each day. He seemed downcast.

Some time later, mocked mercilessly by the business gossip columnists of the day, Warwick moved to the United States.

You moved to Melbourne in 1989 to be part of the founding business team of The Sunday Age. Again everyone worked all the time – and most loved it.

When commentators talk about the loss of the Fairfax name today as it ‘merges’ with Nine Entertainment, some will roll their eyes at those of us who are sentimentalists about the name.

Business reporters know that a 51/49 percent merger is, in effect, a takeover and the Fairfax name is a diminished brand to some advertisers, who associate it with poor profit results, excesses such as some of the ‘80s arrangements and Warwick Fairfax’s poorly timed takeover bid.

But for those who were camped at their desks when The Sunday Age was an underdog new paper up against Rupert Murdoch’s much better resourced Sunday Herald, there are likely to be pangs.

As there will be for those who tenaciously fought similar battles for survival in the The Sydney Morning Herald, AFR and regional offices.

Of course this angst is not rational - the name is technically still there as a subsidiary. It’s just that so many worked so hard to keep Fairfax going (even as management failed to make strategic purchases) and were proud to work for it –  giving their jobs their all, often to the detriment of relationships and health.

Some will see an attachment to the ‘good old days’ as misplaced. As former Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood says in an insightful interview with one-time executive Peter Fray (link below), the years of the ‘Rivers of Gold’ – where house, job and car advertising paid handsome salaries – were unusual. There had been lean times before – and plenty more since.

Rose colored they may be, but many former journalists cherish their memories. There were similar incongruous pangs when the Age building, with its stained green carpet and grotty stairwells, was razed to the ground for apartments in Lonsdale Street. That awful brown box, now replaced by a glamorous glass shell, was where so many grew up and passed their best years.

Hundreds who took a redundancy lovingly recall Con and Ritza’s fried food in the café or valued invitations to the Bog bar (drinks from a locker in the men’s changing rooms) for a beer after The Sunday Age went to press. There were many more idiosyncratic, often politically incorrect, moments of living and breathing work.

Some former editors couldn’t let it go. This writer’s chapter in the recent book, Media Innovation & Disruption, edited by Andrew Dodd and Helen Sykes, records how some became entrepreneurs, creating digital newspapers or services. See the link to the chapter below.

Former Fairfax editor Bruce Guthrie was not welcomed into the digital landscape when he launched The New Daily. Nor was Peter Fray’s fact-checking service Politifact universally supported by his peers. Former senior editor Veronica Ridge had to “pivot fast” for her beautiful online magazine Issimo, and its website design operation, to survive. Another former editor Andrew Jaspan says he launched The Conversation because it was an intellectual challenge, more so than another project he had discussed with former Fairfax go-getter, Antony Catalano. Jaspan missed out on making lots of money but says he didn’t care.

Why did these former Fairfax leaders risk their reputation, money and being subject to ridicule? When pressed, they admit to ink in the veins or an abiding love for the work. For some it’s about working in the public interest and a sense of purpose; for others it’s the identity it gives and the camaraderie it brings.

The loss of these motivators can lead to depression, even despair, as former journalist Lawrie Zion and other academics found with their ground-breaking research on how Australian journalists who became redundant have fared. See the findings below.

Many have suggested that Nine will dominate from today and that its more commercial – some say blokey - culture will prevail. But that may not be the case.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon once wisecracked that Kiwis moving to Australia “raised the IQ of both countries”. Could not the same hold true for the Nine/Fairfax merger, with the brains and integrity of investigative journalists such as Kate McClymont, Nick McKenzie, Adele Ferguson or Richard Baker setting the standard?

This may be optimistic but it’s important that the Nine/Fairfax merger works. In these times of fake news, distraction and noise, there is a greater need than ever for passion, knowledge, curation and a stubborn ambition to uncover the truth.


Denise Ryan Costello worked for News Corporation and Fairfax Media for 25 years. She now works as a journalism lecturer at Swinburne University.


Former Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood is interviewed by UTS academic and former Fairfax executive Peter Fray in this podcast:

A chapter on how former Fairfax editors risked all to set up digital businesses from the book Media Innovation & Disruption:

Latest research on how journalists who lost their jobs have fared:

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Statement on Ministerial interference in the ARC rounds, 2017-2018

Saturday November 3, 2018


The Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia calls on the Federal government to reverse its decision to veto 11 ARC-recommended grants in the 2017-18 Discovery Project, Discovery Early Career Researcher Awards and Future Fellowship rounds; and to fund them in the forthcoming round.


This personal intervention by the then-Minister Simon Birmingham has received widespread condemnation from the national and international research community — including in the world’s leading scientific journal, Nature.


The intervention potentially does irreparable harm to Australia’s reputation as a nation that values academic freedom and independence. 


The vetoed projects were judged by numerous peer reviewers, and the distinguished ARC College of Experts, to deliver work of national importance and benefit. 


It is rare for Ministers not to accept the advice of the ARC, and even rarer for the Minister to intervene in so many grants — the last time this happened was in 2005 and Ministerial intervention was confirmed in only 3 grants at that time. 


We note that all 11 vetoed grants were in the Humanities, with several researchers working in our field of media, journalism and communication directly affected


JERAA celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and is committed to the centrality of media, communication and journalism research in the modern Humanities.


JERAA Vice President (Research), Professor Susan Forde said better understanding of our media systems and content, and the role media play in society, was one of the most pressing considerations for many advanced nations experiencing major media change.  Research from our field has clear social and national benefit. 


“If we don’t defend these researchers now, the independence and autonomy of the academy is under threat. The ARC is the primary source of funding for the best Australian research.


“The flow-on effect of this is what concerns us most — will researchers now start self-censoring their research ideas and the expression of them if they sense it might not ‘get through’ the Minister?


“Will the ARC College of Experts put to the bottom of the pile projects that they feel might also be rejected, in order to protect the pot of funding allocated for Humanities grants?”


The former Minister has indicated that the $4.1million in lost funding was ‘reallocated’, but he has not indicated where; and it appears it was not reallocated to other Humanities projects.


We are now within weeks of the new funding announcements being made — this means the Minister currently has the ARC’s recommendations for 2019 projects before him for sign-off.


We therefore call on the new Minister to help regain Australia’s reputation in the eyes of the world by confirming the projects vetoed by former-Minister Birmingham will now be funded as part of his 2019 Project announcement. 


We also call on Minister Tehan not to intervene in the decisions for new grants that have already been confirmed and recommended by the highly regarded Australian Research Council.


For media enquiries, contact Professor Susan Forde, 0438 513249 or


Click here for a pdf version of this statement to download and distribute


Congratulations to 2018 JERAA award winners

JERAA is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2018 awards.

The recipient of the $6000 2018 JERAA Research Grant is Dr Peter English, from the University of the Sunshine Coast for his project 'A typology of Australian sports journalism'.

The panel has also granted a Highly Commended award to Dr Alex Wake for her project 'Brave new worlds of international broadcasting'. Alex will receive $3000 to carry out fieldwork associated with her project.

The 2018 Anne Dunn Scholar Award has been won by Dr Caroline Fisher from the University of Canberra.

Caroline was commended by the panel for her body of work as an early career researcher, which features a range of high-quality national and international publications. Her research highlights the connections between journalism and other communication forms, and aims to increase understanding about the changing relationship between these different forms.

The Anne Dunn Scholar Award is jointly sponsored by Anne's family, JERAA, and the Australia New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA), and honours Anne's lifetime dedication to public service journalism.


Upsurge in journalist killings coincides with World Press Freedom Day

Australian journalism educators are deeply concerned that this year’s World Pres Freedom Day, marked annually on May 3, coincides with a recent upsurge in violence against journalists.

Professor Matthew Ricketson, president of the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA), the peak body for journalism academics, said 32 journalists and media staff had been killed already this year, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) data showed.

Ten journalists were killed in Afghanistan on April 30, nine by a single suicide bomber, making it the deadliest day for media, according to the IFJ. This appalling loss of life was the result of a coordinated double suicide bombing in Kabul, in which the nine died while doing their job – reporting on the first blast. The tenth, a BBC Afghan service journalist, was shot in the country’s east.

“Earlier last month two Palestinian journalists were killed in Gaza during the Israel-Gaza protests – two more names on the list of the more than 1100 journalists who have died in the past 12 years while simply doing their job, according to the IFJ,” he said.

Imprisonment is also an occupational hazard for journalists. Two journalists are being held in jail in Myanmar for reporting for Reuters on the murder of Rohingya Muslims and the Committee to Protect Journalists says 262 journalists were imprisoned in 2017.

Prof Ricketson said 82 journalists and media staff were killed last year, leading the IFJ to call for a new international convention on the safety and independence of journalists.

“Journalists risk imprisonment, torture and even death, which shows how dangerous the activity of finding and telling the truth can be,” he said.

World Press Freedom Day has been held each year since being proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993. It aims to encourage initiatives supporting press freedom, yet this year’s celebration of those principles comes as efforts to clamp down on terrorism are leading to constraints on press freedom, including in Australia, he said.

“Proposed new Australian national security legislation is being opposed by journalists and media organisations because it would criminalise reporting done in the public interest.

“Staff cuts in Australian media organisations also impinge on press freedom. Thinly spread resources mean less time for journalism conducted in the public interest, whether that be covering the courts or digging into issues hidden far from public view. There are also fears for the erosion of the editorial independence of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation,” Prof Ricketson said.

The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is ‘Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law’. This emphasises the importance of prosecuting crimes against journalists, even those that happened long ago, such as the killing of five Australian journalists at Balibo, in East Timor, in 1975 and the death of Australian journalist Roger East in East Timor a few months later. “No one has been prosecuted for those killings,” Prof Ricketson said.

The importance of an independent judiciary in ensuring legal guarantees for press freedom is also highlighted by this year’s theme.

Prof Ricketson said World Press Freedom Day comes just one week after the annual world press freedom index, compiled by Reporters without Borders, found that alongside the rise of “fake news” an increasing number of democratically elected leaders were fostering hostility towards the media in the past year.

“US president Donald Trump, in particular, continues to characterise the press as the enemy of the people, in dangerously inflammatory ways that go far beyond the normal, healthy tension between the news media and the White House,” he said.

 “Such a climate of hostility is becoming an insidious threat to press freedom as it undermines the public trust that journalists need to continue doing their important, sometimes dangerous work.”

JERAA statement on perceived government intervention at the ABC

The peak body representing Australian journalism educators and researchers is concerned about the removal of an ABC report on corporate taxation policy by chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici, following complaints from the federal government.
The Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) fears this could set a precedent that erodes the editorial independence of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and opens the door for further and wider interference in the organisation.
The ABC has also recently come under scrutiny from some quarters for its handling of hundreds of pages of leaked cabinet papers that were returned after an apparent agreement between the national broadcaster and the federal government.
ABC Media Manager Sally Jackson has denied any pressure from the government.
“Any suggestion the ABC is responding to outside pressure over these stories is incorrect.
They have been subject to the normal ABC editorial processes. The internal review of the stories was begun before any complaints were received by ABC News.”
But JERAA president Matthew Ricketson said it was important the ABC continued to be independent, and not subject to accusations of government censorship.
“If there were problems with Emma Alberici’s stories, why could they not be corrected and reposted, or, why couldn’t alternative analyses be posted?
“It is preferable to add to the store of information in the public domain rather than hide material from public view, thereby preventing readers from making up their own minds about the stories. Such actions also plant perceptions that the ABC has buckled under pressure from government over an issue that is not only before parliament but is hotly contested.”
The ABC’s host of Media Watch, Paul Barry, has called the ABC’s editorial guidelines on analysis and opinion too restrictive, which is something for the ABC to address. He also said that, “the system of editorial quality control on a major story has failed yet again.”
Professor Ricketson noted, “Of course, one effect of the pressure and the noise surrounding the ABC’s decision is that we are not discussing the important issues aired by the original stories”.


Senate Inquiry Report Into the Future of Journalism

The Senate has tabled its committee’s report on the Inquiry into the future of public interest journalism.

Here’s the link:


Members of JERAA work to:

  • Raise the standard of teaching in journalism.
  • Collect and disseminate information about journalism education.
  • Develop closer relations with the mass media and professional associations.
  • Promote the views of the association.
  • Foster research.
  • Promote freedom of expression and communication.

Join the JERAA now.

Existing members can renew or check whether their membership is up to date via this link.



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