Gordon Farrer wins 2023 JERAA Award for Outstanding Teaching in a Journalism Program

By JERAA VP Awards, Jeanti St Clair


A headshot of a man in glasses, Gordon Farrer of RMIT University, stands in front a bookcase
Gordon Farrer of RMIT University is the 2023 JERAA Outstanding Teaching Award recipient. Image supplied

Gordon Farrer, a lecturer in journalism at RMIT University, has won the 2023 JERAA Outstanding Teaching Award in a Journalism Program for his excellent work in developing and delivering fact-checking and verification curriculum.

The 2023 JERAA teaching award was judged by Professor Trevor Cullen, Associate Professor Andrew Dodd, Dr Caroline Graham, and Dr Kathryn Bowd.

The judges wrote that: “The award recognises Gordon Farrer’s work in designing and teaching the subject Fact checking and Verification. The judging panel agreed the subject is an exemplar of innovation, as the first of its kind in Australia, and in the way it is taught. It was created in response to an observed gap in the journalism curriculum. Gordon lobbied for it, established it, delivered it, and developed it to become an essential part of the degree, as well as an elective for other courses.

“In the age of post-truth, the subject gives students the knowledge and techniques to interrogate and verify data and make valuable contributions to public discourse. The teaching is transformational, and the course demonstrates genuine and sustained impact. The subject guidebook, with its up-to-date links, is a practical and useful tool for students and working professionals where verification and accuracy are essential. The accompanying Work Integrated Learning opportunities with ABC Fact Check contribute to important public interest verification work.”

Gordon said he firmly believes that fact-checking – debunking, verifying, and filtering good information from bad information – is “the most crucial function of journalism practice”.

“We are still at the beginning of the Misinformation Era and teaching journalism students these skills and, critically, appropriate thinking approaches to deal with it will help them face that challenge while also helping the industry rebuild its reputation as trustworthy and as an essential guardrail to the success of the democratic experiment.

“The thinking required is broader that just “critical thinking”,” he said. “It’s also about observation skills, questioning assumptions and personal biases, left-field thinking and creative thinking.

The award attracts a $2000 prize. Gordon has proposed to use the funds to support his continued professional development in the field, and to continue sharing that knowledge beyond the course through presentations and demonstrations.

RMIT University lecturer Janak Rogers is highly commended by the judges for the same award.

Janak has initiated and co-produced a range of narrative news podcast and television projects for students to extend their skills in, including in 2023 The Voice live television broadcast on Channel 31 and online. These projects provide innovative curriculum modules that blend theory with practical application.

The judges wrote: “Janak brings considerable depth and breadth to the teaching of broadcast journalism and has developed innovative and creative ways to engage students in building their professional practice and presenting their work to audiences. Janak is passionate about teaching and a font of great ideas for engaging students in real world projects to make their learning more rewarding, while also being highly useful to the wider community.”

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