Lynette Sheridan Burns

Added 2019

Lynette Sheridan Burns is an author and Adjunct Professor of Journalism. She joined JEA in 1990 and served on the Executive from 1994 to 2004, and again in 2008, including a term as President from 1998-2000.

Lynette Sheridan Burns accepts her Life Membership at the JERAA Conference at the University of Sydney in 2019.
Photo by Gregory Treadwell

In 2006 Lynette became the Australia’s first female Professor of Journalism.

Her book, Understanding Journalism, now in its third edition, was first published in 2002 and most recently in 2018. It has been translated into Czech and Chinese and is used in journalism education around the world.

She continues to research and write about journalism focussing on the impact of media reporting on social minorities. She currently working on a book about the impact of media reporting  on children in permanent foster care.


This is a copy of the speech delivered by Dr Alex Wake at the University of Sydney on December 5, 2019.

Over a career spanning more than three decades in both journalism and academia, Professor Lynette Sheridan Burns has proven herself to be a tireless advocate for improvement to journalism practice through her research and resultant innovative approaches to pedagogy within the academy.

Lynette has won numerous journalism awards and an Award for Excellence in Teaching (University of Newcastle). She was also a recipient of The Australian newspaper Award for Excellence in Educational Publishing – for the Media and Indigenous Australians Project, which provided educational materials to Australian tertiary journalism courses about reporting on Indigenous issues. That project was a direct outcome of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Lynette’s research has focused on innovative approaches to teaching. Since 1998 she has led three federally-funded curriculum design projects, which improved the reporting of diversity in Australia through developing journalists’ skills in reflective practice. She has also been a seminal contributor to the Expert Reference Group for the Federal Department of Health and Aged Care’s National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Lynette Sheridan Burns at the JERAA Conference dinner where she was awarded life membership. Photo by TJ Thomson

Lynette has clearly and consistently demonstrated a long-standing commitment to social justice through the development of learning materials, journal articles and books that assist both aspirant and career journalists to actively reflect upon how news and longer-form stories are reported. There is no doubt Lynette is a global pioneer in applying the ‘reflective practice’ approach to journalism education, which teaches  students how to report effectively through the understanding and application of an ethical framework when reporting.

This pedagogical approach of reflective practice was the basis of Lynette’s PhD thesis and also underpins her book, Understanding Journalism, which was published in London in 2002, re-printed in New Delhi in 2003 and translated into Czech in 2005. This best-selling textbook is now in its third edition and remains a standard text in curricula around the globe.

Lynette recently retired as Professor of Journalism and Deputy Dean of Humanities and Communication Arts at the University of Western Sydney, where she worked for nearly two decades after instigating the journalism major at the University of Newcastle in 1989.

Lynette has long been a generous mentor and loyal friend to many of us here today, as well as colleagues scattered around the world.

And so it is with both pleasure and pride that the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia welcomes Professor Sheridan Burns – who is a former president of JERAA’s predecessor, the Journalism Education Association – to the ranks of those who have been awarded life membership of JERAA.

Ladies and gentlemen of JERAA, please join me in welcoming Professor Lynette Sheridan Burns to life membership of our organisation.