By Brooke Gibbs, Journalism Student
Macleay College held their 2016 International Reporting Conference on March 23, 2016 covering the topics of China and Australia, reporting Africa, and how well we cover the world.
These topics were broadcasted live with guest talks from Jamie Zimmermann, Louisa Lim, Randall Smith and Claire Harvey, as well as Q and A panellists Hugh Riminton, Monica Attard and Macleay College journalism students.
We were first joined by Jamie Zimmermann, an Australian ex special forces soldier, author of The Promise, and founder of the Australian Hero Games. His discussion on war reporting was really eye opening. As a journalism student it was fascinating to see how dangerous war reporting can be and how important it is to be adaptable to your environment and all the challenges when reporting internationally.
Louisa Lim, author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia; Tiananmen Revisited, discussed how she believes we are now “in very dark days for Chinese journalists,” due to the censorship and control the Chinese Government have over the media. What interested me the most about Louisa’s talk was the story she told of a time she showed 100 Chinese students the photo of the Tiananmen Square tank man and only fifteen of those 100 students knew what the photo represented. It opened my eyes to how easy I have it as an aspiring journalist in Australia when it comes to being able to research information instantly. The full audio of Louisa's session is available here and is well worth a listen.
The third session was provided by Randall Smith, curator of the Nelson Mandela archives in South Africa and author of the book A Kenyan Journey . He focussed on the negative stereotypes presented in the media when it comes to the way Africa is reported. In particular, he discussed the negative stereotype that Africa is filled with viruses, and the common mistake reporters make when they refer to Africa as a country rather than what it actually is, a continent. His purpose of pointing out these stereotypes was to address the positive attributes of Africa that are not generally covered by the media such as the often neglected story that Africa is lifting itself up and democracies are moving in a positive direction. Until, it was laid out in front of me, I never noticed how little I see in the media about the positives of Africa.
The final session was a Q and A debating how well we cover the world. Claire Harvey, Deputy Editor of The Daily Telegraph and board member of The Walkley Foundation, spoke about how she believes that “despite shrinking resources, Australia covers the world well.” She was challenged on how well we cover the world by Q and A panellists Monica Attard and Hugh Riminton who believe that we don't care enough about China to cover it, and that Australia has a “patchy report card” when it comes to international reporting.
As a Macleay College journalism student, hearing from the big names in the industry provided me with an in-depth insight into what international reporting involves, a topic I knew very little about before the conference. It opened my eyes up to an area of reporting I didn’t think I would be interested in. I am grateful that Macleay College offers international reporting as an elective and as a result of this conference’s success, I will now be choosing that elective.
Macleay College’s 2016 International Reporting Conference was a great success and I am looking forward to next year’s conference.
Read The Newsroom's wrap up of the International Reporting Conference.
Photos by James Mott, Benjamin Atkinson-James and Andrew Brain.