The AN Smith lecture has a unique place in Australia’s cultural history. It is the oldest journalism lecture series in Australia, having commenced in 1936 after a bequest to the University of Melbourne from the family of Arthur Norman Smith, who was a founder of the Australian Journalists’ Association. The lecture is presented each year by a leading authority on an important aspect of journalism. Over its 80-plus year history, the lecture has been presented by personalities including journalists, politicians and even a Vice-Chancellor. Some of the more noteworthy were Graham Perkin (1974), Michelle Grattan (1988), Rupert Murdoch (1972), Kevin Rudd (2021), and Walter Robinson (2018). The Centre for Advancing Journalism is currently working on locating and archiving all AN Smith lectures.
Va o matagi: climate journalism from the frontlines
Lagipoiva Dr Cherelle Jackson
Samoan journalist and host of The Guardian's 'An Impossible Choice' podcast
Lagipoiva Dr Cherelle Jackson, Samoan journalist and host of An Impossible Choice by The Guardian, shares her experience covering climate in the Pacific in the context of Australia’s complex relationship with the region.
‘Va o matagi’, which translates as ‘In between storms’, highlights the cultural nuances in reporting on the Pacific and the challenges in international journalism that ignores local voices and Pacific languages.
Public broadcasting and quality journalism under siege: the case for a Royal Commission
The Honorable Kevin Rudd AC
President and CEO, Asia Society; President, Asia Society Policy Institute
Saving the Australian Associated Press: re-making an Australian media institution
Emma Cowdroy and Jonty Low, AAP
The Australian Associated Press is a fundamental part of the Australian media landscape. For 85 years it’s provided coverage on almost all aspects of Australian life and supplied reliable news and information for media outlets across the country. When the consortium of major media companies announced it would close in June, AAP looked doomed. But since then there has been an awakening of interest and support; now AAP not only exists, but has a renewed mission to tell new kinds of stories, as well as provide an important journal of record coverage. Join AAP’s new CEO, Emma Cowdroy, and new chairperson, Jonty Low, for a discussion of how AAP was saved and the many challenges that lie ahead.
In the 2020 AN Smith Lecture in Journalism AAP’s new CEO, Emma Cowdroy, and new chairperson, Jonty Low, join in an online panel discussion moderated by the Director of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism Associate Professor Andrew Dodd, for a discussion of how AAP was saved and the many challenges that lie ahead.
Journalism versus the big banks: Reporting where regulators fear to tread
Adele Ferguson AM
The Royal Commission into the banking industry has demonstrated that regulators have failed us, while the role of protecting the public from corporate greed has often been performed best by journalism. This is despite the fact that the news media has faced major disruption and the kinds of financial constraints that make consistent and forensic analysis of big business much more challenging.
In her AN Smith lecture, investigative reporter Adele Ferguson – who many credit as the initiator of the Royal Commission – asks why it is that journalism stepped up while regulation failed? And what can be done to strengthen journalism to ensure it keeps on performing this vital role?
From the Catholic Church to President Trump – Investigative Reporting vs. the Excesses of Power
For decades, American cardinals and bishops – and their peers across the Globe – engaged in an international criminal conspiracy to keep secret the sexual abuse of countless thousands of children. But investigative reporters exposed the crimes. Then in 2016, the economic and journalistic fortunes of US media could not have seemed bleaker – until Donald Trump unwittingly became the new patron saint of the First Amendment. His coarse attempts to undermine the Constitution have awakened the slumbering watchdogs of the Fourth Estate. Now, all the dogs are barking. And the public wonders: Without investigative reporting, without a strong and aggressive press, can Democracy survive? And if investigative reporting cannot hold powerful Popes and Presidents accountable, then who can?
Presented by Walter Robinson, Editor-at-Large of the Boston Globe and leader of the Spotlight Team’s investigations into abuse in the Catholic Church.
Live and Dangerous: Journalism and the Real-Time Social Web
Modern journalism is enabled by the reach and power of technology platforms and social networks to broadcast anything from anywhere in the world. Terrorist attacks become horrifying theatre, our attention drawn to events and their aftermath as they unfold, and the ‘breaking news’ organisation is anyone with a mobile phone and a social media account. As Facebook Live becomes the window on all events, and mobile technology turns anyone into a potential broadcasting unit, how do we decide what to report and what to edit? Who is in control and what is the role for legacy broadcasters and news organisations in this new world?
Emily Bell is the founding director of Columbia University’s highly regarded Tow Center for Digital Journalism and a leading authority on digital journalism.
Freedom from Information - Australia’s War on Transparency
When The Killing Season aired on ABC TV this year Prime Minister Tony Abbott lifted his arms to the press gallery and declared “Thank you to the ABC”. This was the ABC’s 4th landmark TV series on political leadership but will there be another? Will our current and future leaders feel the same obligation of history? Or will future leaders no longer trust their legacy to a media they don’t control?
Walkley Award winning journalist Sarah Ferguson, whose documentary series on the Rudd / Gillard years The Killing Season made waves earlier this year, presented the 2015 AN Smith Lecture in Journalism.
The Net Effect: An Optimist in the News Business
The disruption of ‘legacy’ newspapers by the Internet should be welcomed and celebrated. Morry Schwartz believes that this problem will be solved with the development of highly targeted and personalised advertising on the internet, and importantly with the advent of a paid-content model, which will bring with it many blessings. The greatest being that in order to be successful, media companies will need to offer such valuable and desirable content that people will be willing to pay for it!
Morry Schwartz, Publisher The Saturday Paper
The rise of the reader: journalism in the age of the open web
In this globalised era, most news organisations have international ambitions, from Al Jazeera to Buzzfeed. Katharine Viner argues that journalism that is open to the web is the best way to make a global impact. But what does that mean? Who is our audience in such a world? What do they want from us? What kind of business models best serve 'post-industrial journalism'? And why is Guardian Australia here?
Katharine Viner is editor-in-chief of recently launched Guardian Australia and has been deputy editor of the Guardian worldwide since 2007. Having previously worked at London's Sunday Times, Katharine joined the Guardian in 1997 and has worked as a writer, editor of Weekend magazine, features editor, head of comment and Saturday editor.
Read the transcript (210kb pdf)
The Future of News
Kim Williams AM
“We’re here tonight because we believe journalism matters. And one of the reasons it matters is that it’s one of the last bastions of idiosyncratic public individuals who say what they think without fear or favour. Journalism has always been populated by larger than life souls: often testy, frequently witty and hopefully always readable. They make life richer and more interesting and give us cheer, hope, fury and a sense of what it is to be part of the cavalcade in society’s affairs.”
Kim Williams, AM, Chief Executive of News Limited.
Read the transcript (130kb pdf)
If you ask me about the future of newspapers you have asked the wrong question
Greg Hywood, CEO Fairfax Media
The end of journalism as we know it – and other good news stories
The media landscape is changing rapidly. Newspapers are under increasing financial pressure. The old paradigms for journalism are under threat and in the middle of this media revolution, no-one can say what the future of journalism looks like.
Annabel Crabb, ABC Online’s Chief Political Writer.
Read the transcript (430kb pdf)
The Fall of Rome: Media after Empire
ABC Managing Director, Mark Scott discusses the future of journalism in an age when the media moguls have fallen, private equity dominates and increasing numbers of people access news and entertainment online.
Read the transcript (135kb pdf)
Do newspapers have a future? And how long is that future?
Do newspapers have a future? And how long is that future? Well, I ask you to imagine Melbourne without The Age and the Herald Sun or Sydney without The Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. Imagine Australia without The Australian. If you can imagine such a future, in my view, that’s in part because of our failure to produce newspapers which attract the sort of fierce and life-long loyalty they once attracted.
Read the transcript (165kb pdf)
The first A N Smith Lecture in Journalism was presented in 1938
Details of previous lectures from 1997-2011 are available on the University’s Speeches and presentations A N Smith Lecture in Journalism web page.