The cost of reporting the truth

The cost of reporting the truth

Some of Australia’s most prominent journalists gathered at RMIT’s City campus on Thursday to discuss why journalism matters and challenges facing the industry.

The Walkley Foundation and RMIT presented the panel discussion, featuring RMIT alumnus Lauren Molan as moderator, who was joined by The Age journalist Caroline Wilson, ABC reporter Louise Milligan, The Guardian journalist Lisa Martin, Herald Sun Health Editor Grant McArthur and AAP journalist Zena Chamas.

The conversation ranged from how we can define quality journalism and how journalists can provide a voice to people who don’t have one - but with that comes challenges for reporters.

Herald Sun Health Editor Grant McArthur, Guardian journalist Lisa Martin, The Age journalist Caroline Wilson, INQ Editor and RMIT alumnus Lauren Molan, ABC reporter Louise Milligan, AAP journalist Zena Chamas, RMIT senior lecturer Dr Alex Wake and Walkley Foundation Chief Executive Louisa Graham.

Martin said 14 journalists have been killed on duty this year and in 2015 she had been close to becoming a statistic, during an attempted carjacking while on assignment in Papua New Guinea.

Although she escaped unharmed, it was weeks before she could tell even her parents what happened to her.

“When you’ve got such a thirst for adventure and you want to see the world, be a foreign correspondent and go to dangerous places, it has an impact on the people left behind,” Martin said.

Wilson said some of the stories she’d reported on had led to everything from her children being threatened on social media to 3.00am abusive phone calls and death threats.

“Sometimes you feel like it’s coming at you from all angles. It can be pretty tough,” she said.

“I would advise any young journalist to not get obsessed about what people are saying about you on social media. It’s just not worth it.”

Milligan said she was concerned junior reporters were becoming more vulnerable, as they were increasingly working without the guidance of more experienced journalists as mentors.

 “They need people who can look after them and make sure they don’t write lurid headlines about someone that’s going to destroy their career without bothering to ask them if it happened,” she said.

Walkley Foundation Chief Executive Louisa Graham said the mission at the independently-funded company was to help all Australians understand the value of quality journalism, and the way it impacts their daily lives and our democracy.

“As some of our leading journalists share what price they’ve paid to report the truth, we’re delighted to partner with RMIT to host this important conversation in Melbourne for an audience that includes the next generation of young journalists,” she said.

Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) Program Manager Dr Alex Wake said RMIT was thrilled to partner with the Walkley Foundation for this event.

“For more than 60 years, the Walkley Foundation has been associated with excellence in Australian journalism,” she said.

“Of importance for our students is the foundation’s commitment to supporting the next generation of journalists through scholarships, fellowships and mentorships and the coveted Young Journalist of the Year Awards.

“This collaboration between our journalism programs and the most respected journalism organisation in the country will benefit not only our students, who are future industry leaders, but also our graduates and industry partners.”

Among the audience on the night were students of RMIT’s Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) and Graduate Diploma in Journalism courses.

The event follows The Walkley Foundation’s national public awareness campaign What Price Would You Pay?, asking Australians to re-evaluate the price they’d pay for quality journalism that impacts everyday lives.

 

Story: Aeden Ratcliffe

16 August 2019

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16 August 2019

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