Behind the lines: Richard Walsh talks about his publishing life

Friday 9 June
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
S226 Seminar Room, Department of Media and Communications
John Woolley Building, Level 2 entry off Manning Road

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Richard Walsh began his working life as a writer – he has written for the stage and for TV; he has written advertising copy and had a regular newspaper column; his ninth book is shortly to be published. But he is best known as an editor (creating OZ and POL magazines, and the weekly newspaper Nation Review) and a publisher (he is the former head of Angus & Robertson Publishers and Australian Consolidated Press; today he commissions books for Allen & Unwin). He has been jailed (momentarily) for obscenity; he has stood before the federal parliament and been admonished; he has stared down a charge of breaching the Crimes Act; he has fought over 50 defamation cases. He sees his life as partly encouraging writers to fulfil their innate talent and partly throwing the odd grenade. Next month his latest book, ‘Reboot’, will be published; in it he proposes a radical makeover of our political system so as to revitalise our democracy; in late July he will publish a political thriller called ‘The Twentieth Man’, by ABCTV’s Tony Jones. Richard’s life Behind The Lines continues.

Can literary journalism fulfill more readily the obligations of journalism? A panel discussion hosted by Dr Megan Le Masurier

Friday 2 June
2:30pm – 5:00 pm
S226 Seminar Room, Department of Media and Communications
John Woolley Building, Level 2 entry off Manning Road

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Fiona Giles: Narrative confessionals, memoir publishing and the cultural value of personal revelations

This paper considers three memoirs by Australian writers published across five decades— Hal Porter’s Watcher on the Cast-Iron Balcony (1963), Clive James’ Unreliable Memoirs (1980) and Richard Glover’s Flesh Wounds (2015). It considers the ways in which the memoir genre has evolved during this period and explores the cultural value of personal revelations. Memoir scholarship is a late arrival to journalism studies, considered by many as too solipsistic to qualify as literary journalism, yet too journalistic to qualify for literary analysis within autobiography studies. Meanwhile, the continuing boom in memoir publishing suggests that narrative confessionals meet a vital social need, and are not merely a manifestation of neo-liberal narcissism in the tell-all age of social media. The paper asks to what extent memoirs employ a relational aesthetics (Bourriaud 1998) and invitational rhetoric (Foss and Griffin 1995) to foster socio-political change [Image: http://www.onlineuniversities.com/blog/].

Bunty Avieson: Immersive literary journalism as an effective and ethical method to expose the structural inequalities of society

Standpoint theory suggests that people living on the margins are better placed to perceive what is really occurring across the social and cultural domain; their standpoint, developed while negotiating society’s power structures, can be the most penetrating. For the past 50 years, German journalist Günter Wallraff has gone undercover to report in compelling prose daily life from the standpoint of society’s most vulnerable. In America Ted Conover went undercover as a prison guard and in Australia journalist Elisabeth Wynhausen went undercover in a posh club and a chookhouse. Using standpoint theory this paper proposes that this type of immersive literary journalism is an effective and ethical method to expose the structural inequalities of society.

Beate Josephi: Are there ethical dimensions to literary journalism?

If this question had been put to one of Australia’s best-known authors and celebrated war correspondent, George Johnston, his answer would have been a clear, no. His novel, The Far Road, provides his view of the ever-narrow boundaries of journalism in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. More recently, in a reflection on ‘The media in the age of Trump’, Lee Siegel surmised that literary journalism, which “does not have to worry about the propriety or ethics of balancing public and private journalistic expression,” now has better tools at its disposal for castigating the ills of the time. Also, drawing on the work of the Literature Nobel Prize winner for 2015, Belorussian documentary journalist Svetlana Alexievich, Beate Josephi will outline the possibilities of a genre that is being reappraised in light of changing expectations of journalism, objectivity, accuracy and reader engagement.

Mitchell Hobbs: Exploring the politics of media companies via the memoirs of former media executives

Literary journalism can have some surprising uses by media and communications researchers, providing insights that are otherwise unattainable. For instance, in my research on the politics of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, I often use the memoirs of former media executives to explore the news producing practices and workplace culture of specific media outlets. These texts are rich in both factual information and latent ideological meanings. I have used these texts to build factual timelines that record Rupert Murdoch’s meetings with senior politicians—these details can then be cross-referenced with other sources of information available in government archives or obtainable via FOI requests, such as the diaries of senior politicians. Likewise, the authors of these memoirs reveal much about their values and the news room culture of their workplace. This is especially useful when seeking to understand how the CEO of a truly global media conglomerate can influence the editorial tone of a diverse array of media assets. In short, the insights provided by media executives can, both wittingly and unwittingly, help to achieve honesty and transparency regarding the politics of media companies in a way that is often not possible via other methods of inquiry.

Dr Fiona Giles is a senior lecturer in the Department of Media and Communications where she teaches creative nonfiction and feature journalism. Her research interests include literary journalism in a multimedia age, and she is currently co-editing a book of scholarly essays on memoir with Bunty Avieson and Sue Joseph for Routledge.

Dr Bunty Avieson is a lecturer in the in the Department of Media and Communications, teaching news writing and principles of media writing. Her research interests are journalism, literary journalism, Wikipedia and the emerging media landscape of Bhutan. She has published seven books, including two works of literary journalism, A Baby in a Backpack to Bhutan and The Dragon’s Voice: How modern media found Bhutan.

Dr Beate Josephi is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney. Her research interests are journalism, journalists and literary journalism. She is on the editorial board of numerous journals, including Literary Journalism Studies and International Communication Gazette.

Dr Mitchell Hobbs is Lecturer in Media and Public Relations at the University of Sydney. His research activities concern political communication, media power and social media, and he once worked in political public relations for Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The social geographies of ‘going out’: Teenagers and cinema in rural Australia

Friday 19 May
2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
S226 Seminar Room, Department of Media and Communications
John Woolley Building, Level 2 entry off Manning Road

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Cinemas provide rural teens with important connections to wider national and global cultural and communications landscapes. While films are now readily accessible on a range of different formats and devices, the act of going to the movies offers young people ‘something to do’ in places where there are typically very few social alternatives. What has been less prominent in policy and critical discourses is the importance of rural cinemas in providing teens with a ‘place to go’ – a legitimate space to gather and interact that in turn helps to foster positive youth identities and attachment to place. Drawing on perspectives from media and cultural theory as well as sociology and child studies, this paper will explore the significance of rural cinemas as modern public space. This will be based largely on the findings of ethnographic research conducted with teenagers in the small town of Barraba, NSW. Barraba provides a rich example of how the movie-going experience is shaped by established urban practices but appropriated and adapted to local conditions, and where practices of ‘cultural distinction’ (Bourdieu 1984, 1985) are less clearly delineated. [Image: Gavin Schmidt. Source: The Daily Telegraph].

Karina Aveyard is a University of Sydney Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Her recent publications include the monograph Lure of the Big Screen: Cinema in Rural Australia and the United Kingdom (Intellect 2015) and the co-edited Watching Films: New Perspectives on Movie Going, Exhibition and Reception (Intellect 2013). Her essays have also been published in journals including Continuum, Media International Australia, Participations and Studies in Australasian Cinema.

Rebooting Smart Cities for Social Justice & Digital Inclusion

Friday 5 May
2:30 pm – 5:00 pm
S226 Seminar Room, Department of Media and Communications
John Woolley Building, Level 2 entry off Manning Road

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Visions of the ‘smart city’ and ‘internet of things (IOT)’ drive an acceleration of the incorporation of digital technologies into the urban environment, directing the aims and agendas of government and large corporations at various levels in many cities around the world. Conspicuously absent in many templates for smart cities are the key issues of social justice, digital inclusion, and sustainability, for a range of people who live in cities. There is also little recognition in smart city discussions that vast numbers of everyday urban interactions and processes are already heavily mediated and managed, producing new forms and uses of data, urban experiences and social and digital inequalities. In this interactive workshop, we discuss how to reimagine and reshape the smart city agenda – and other digital city visions – for fairer, democratic futures, and better city life for all. A panel of experts from across research, planning, local government, and technology sectors will explore issues and map out priorities with attendees, such as new access barriers to sensors, platforms and infrastructures, dataveillance and profiling, differential mobilities, data exclusion, super- connected vs un/under-connected zones, digital labour and rights to the digital city.

Panellists: Kurt Iveson, Associate Professor of Urban Geography in the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney; Marcus Foth, Director of the QUT Design Lab, founder of the Urban Informatics Research Lab, and Professor in Interactive & Visual Design, School of Design, Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology; Pauline McGuirk, Professor of Human Geography, University of Wollongong; Robyn Dowling, Associate Dean Research and Professor of Urbanism in the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney; Nathaniel Bavinton, Smart City Coordinator at the City of Newcastle; Jamie Cauchi, leads the Victorian Government’s Connected Cities and Public Wi-Fi program; Sarah Barns, Research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University and Smart City advisor.

Mixed realities: Intersections in (cyber)space and the poetics of metadata

Friday 28 April 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm S226 Seminar Room, Department of Media and Communications John Woolley Building, Level 2 entry off Manning Road

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Mixed reality blends the real and the virtual both visually and semantically, challenging existing forms of representation, meaning, ownership, and agency. New technologies raise new questions – but will they necessarily reinforce the same systems of identity and control? Where the virtual collides with the real everything is up for grabs — again (Image: New Scientist, https://www.newscientist.com).

Mark Pesce is best known as co-inventor of VRML, which brought 3D graphics to the Web. Pesce has written six books and co-founded postgraduate programs at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema, and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Since 2006 he has held an Honorary appointment in the Digital Cultures Program at the University of Sydney.

A Humanistic Approach to Health Communication

Friday 7 April 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm S226 Seminar Room, Department of Media and Communications John Woolley Building, Level 2 entry off Manning Road

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Since the key to effective health communication lies in its ability to communicate well, some of its core problems are those that relate to the sharing of meaning between communicators. In other words, its key challenge lies in finding ways to disseminate solutions in a manner that allows individuals to co-create the proper route for adoption. This talk offers three key propositions:

  • Health communication has to pass through the filter of a particular world view that creates a discrepancy between expected and actual message reception and response.
  • The assumption of a rational human actor made implicitly by most health psychological models is a contestable issue, as many times message recipients do not follow a cognitive judgment process.
  • Health communication as part of organised government practices adheres to predominant values perspectives that affect the manner in which health issues become problematised.

What seems more fruitful for future health communication then is not “better” campaigns but a deeper inclusion of publics in the storytelling process about health and well-being. Understanding the concept of dialogical interaction and sense making will build connections between communication, representation and social identity. A movement toward humanistic health communication ultimately reaffirms the communicative process as living up to its original definition of sharing meaning (Image: http://www.halklailiskiler.com/).

This event will be broadcast on Twitter via Periscope (go to @MediaAtSydney).

Dr Olaf Werder directs the health communication program in the department and leads a research group on health humanities at the Charles Perkins Centre focusing on identifying barriers and pathways of effective communication in health.

In Conversation with Jack Linchuan Qiu: Digital Technology, Social Justice, Rights, and Democracy

Friday 31 March
2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
S226 Seminar Room, Department of Media and Communications
John Woolley Building, Level 2 entry off Manning Road

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What are the frontiers of emergent media and communication today? What are the cultural, political, and justice issues arising from the heightened role that technology plays in social life, particularly among people who are marginalized and disenfranchised? What are the unfolding concerns for media, especially in relation to digital rights and governance, across different global societies, especially in the Asia-Pacific? How do we make sense and intervene into the central predicament of communication now – the great potential and opportunities that the diffusion and take-up of digital technologies offer, yet the lack of democracy in communication and media themselves? What are the possibilities of global initiatives to reform and reimagine media for social betterment, such as the International Panel on Social Progress, the Internet Social Forum, the Justnet Coalition, or other endeavours? To explore and debate these issues, this event presents Professor Jack Qiu, a leading thinker on communication, social movements, and activism, in conversation with Sydney-based scholars, Professor Ariadne Vromen (USYD), Associate Professor Haiqing Yu (UNSW), and Professor Gerard Goggin (USYD), as well as attendees. Jack will open the conversation with his ongoing projects on digital capitalism, labour, and platform cooperativism in the contexts of Hong Kong, China, and Southeast Asia. He will also speak about his observations as a member of editorial teams for various academic journals such as Journal of Communication and Information, Communication & Society: the world needs a new praxis of digital media research. How can we all contribute to it?

This event will be broadcast on Twitter via Periscope (go to @MediaAtSydney).

Jack Linchuan Qiu (http://jack.com.cuhk.edu.hk/) is Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he serves as deputy director of the C-Centre (Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research). His publications include Goodbye iSlave (Univ of Illinois Press, 2016), World’s Factory in the Information Age (Guangxi Normal Univ Press, 2013), Working-Class Network Society (MIT Press, 2009), Mobile Communication and Society (co-authored, MIT Press, 2006). He is on the editorial boards of 12 international academic journals, and is Associate Editor for Journal of Communication. He also works with grassroots NGOs and provides consultancy services for international organizations.

Mark Scott launches Rodney Tiffen’s new book: Disposable Leaders

Friday 10 October
2:30pm – 4:00 pm
S226 Seminar Room, Department of Media and Communications
John Woolley Building, Level 2 entry off Manning Road

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Leadership coups have become a frequent, if unwelcome, part of Australian politics in recent years. In his latest book, Disposable Leaders: Media and leadership coups from Menzies to Abbott, Rodney Tiffen investigates the history and significance of this type of leadership merry-go-round for our democracy. His research finds the drama, backbiting and intrigue of the Rudd–Gillard, Abbott–Turnbull, and Hawke–Keating federal leadership struggles are not unique. On the contrary, since 1970, there has been a total of 73 successful leadership challenges in the Labor Party and the Liberal National Party at either federal or state level. Tiffen argues these highly personal political conflicts, occurring under intense media scrutiny, and at ever-increasing rates, inevitably affect not only political decision-making and relationships, but also policy directions and outcomes (Image: Design by Committee).

Rodney Tiffen is Emeritus Professor in Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. His earlier books include Rupert Murdoch. A Reassessment; How Australia Compares (co-authored with Ross Gittins); Diplomatic Deceits. Government, Media and East Timor; Scandals. Media, Politics and Corruption in Contemporary Australia; and News and Power. He worked with the independent Finkelstein inquiry into the media (2011-12).

Mark Scott AO is the Secretary of the NSW Department of Education, the largest education system in Australia, and former Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (2006-2016). Mark was named an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2011 for distinguished service to media and communications, and to the community through advisory and governance roles with a range of social justice and educational bodies. He has also been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Sydney and UNSW.

This book launch is jointly hosted by the University of Sydney’s Department of Media and Communications and the Department of Government and International Relations.