Council events

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2018 Council Events


2017 Council Events

Executive Director John Pender and Director of Strategic Issues Isabella Cosenza attended the MediaMe Conference - Sydney (19-20 November)

 

Children participants in the Crinkling News MediaMe Conference.


The Australian Press Council was delighted to be involved in Australia’s first national media conference for children. Staged by Crinkling News, Australia’s only national newspaper aimed at children, on November 19 and 20, the MediaMe conference aimed to improve media literacy among the country’s young people. 

John Pender, Executive Director of the Press Council, attended on November 19 and was placed into a working group with journalists and children to discuss their views on issues related to opinion and bias in the news. The group spoke about topics such as the difference between fact and opinion and potential bias by publishers in deciding what is reported.

John Pender said it was a valuable exercise by Crinkling News, a member of the Press Council since December 2016. “I think media literacy is one of the most important issues for children,” he said.
The working groups, comprising 35 children aged 10-15, developed a National Media Literacy Action Plan to tackle some of the issues discussed.

Isabella Cosenza, the Press Council’s Director of Strategic Issues, attended the closing ceremony, held on Universal Children’s Day, November 20.

Senator Sam Dastyari and Megan Mitchell, National Children’s Commissioner, chaired a debate between two teams of children about whether the news is “for kids”. The affirmative side in the debate argued that news is distressing, that it is “too much too soon” and could also be confusing for children. The negative side argued that children had a right to know, to have their opinions heard, and that being well-informed is essential for them to advocate change where needed and develop critical thinking.

The question of whether news was for kids was then left open to the public to vote on in a Facebook Live Video.

The results of the first children’s news and media literacy survey, coordinated by Western Sydney University and Queensland University of Technology were also announced. The survey was about how young people accessed, perceived and were affected by the news. The study showed that a substantial amount of young people felt neglected by the news, that only one third can distinguish between real news and fake news and that children have a strong emotional response to the news.
Isabella Cosenza said that Crinkling News should be congratulated for “organising a first class event and giving a voice to future leaders”.

“It was a privilege to hear on Universal Children Day the views of a diverse range of talented, articulate and well-informed children as they debated the relevance and appropriateness of the news for children,” she said.

As the National Media Literacy Action Plan was presented to Senator Dastyari and Ms Mitchell, Crinkling News Editor Saffron Howden urged people to continue to “shine a spotlight on media literacy”.

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Executive Director John Pender speaks on Digital Disruption at Institute of Managers and Leaders event - Brisbane (29 August 2017)

Executive Director John Pender delivered a very well-received talk to the Fellows’ Breakfast of The Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML) in Brisbane on 29 August 2017. John was invited by the IML, formerly known as the Australian Institute of Management, to speak about the work of the Press Council in light of the massive digital disruption faced by the media industry in Australia and around the world.

The presentation introduced participants to how the Press Council operates, what is expected of member publications and how the organisation is adapting in light of industry developments. 

"The Fellows Breakfast in Brisbane was a great success," said the IML’s Digital Marketing Coordinator, Isobel Marasigan. "Big thanks to John Pender for a great session."

Shay Johnson, Manager Risk and Assurance for Suncorp, attended and called  it "a great and robust discussion".

See more on the Institute of Managers and Leaders here

 

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Meeting with the Council for Mass Media of Finland - Sydney (7 June 2017)

Executive Director John Pender; Director of Strategic Issues Isabella Cosenza; Complaints and Governance Officer Catherine Nguyen; Chair of the Council for Mass Media of Finland Elina Grundström; Director of Complaints Paul Nangle; Chair of the Australian Press Council Professor David Weisbrot; Deputy Head of Mission Antti Niemela; and Research and Standards Officer Dr. Betheli O'Carroll.

 

The Press Council was delighted to host a visit by Elina Grundström, the Chair of the Council for mass media of Finland and Antti Niemela, the Deputy Head of Mission, First Secretary, of the Embassy of Finland.

Finland shares the oldest laws for press freedom in the world, and we talked of the many similarities between the work of our Councils.

 


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Presentation by the Indigenous Literacy Foundation - Sydney (29 May 2017)

Board Member of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation Sharon Galleguillos and colleague at the presentation.

 

Warmest thanks to Sharon Galleguillos, Board Member of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, for an engaging and informative session on the work of the not-for-profit charity.

The Foundation focuses on reducing the disadvantage experienced by children in remote Indigenous communities across Australia, improving literacy rates and instilling a lifelong love of reading. Ms. Galleguillos met with staff of the Australian Press Council over an informal lunch.

The meeting was scheduled as part of the Australian Press Council’s commitments under its Reconciliation Action Plan and took place during Reconciliation Week.



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ORANGES training for staff - Sydney (22-23 May 2017)

Adjudication Panel Member Susan Skelly and some Press Council staff at the ORANGES training session.

 

Australian Press Council staff and some of its members took part in a two-day ORANGES program – a staff development program run in house at the Press Council’s Sydney offices.

Based on the science and practices of positive psychology, ORANGES provides individuals, teams and whole businesses with the skills and tools to create greater optimal functioning people and organisations.

Australian Press Council staff reported they found the program highly engaging and practical, with plans in place to implement a number of initiatives arising from the program.



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Meeting with Tasneem Chopra - Sydney (18 May 2017)

Press Council staff wtih Tasneem Chopra. second from left. Council Member Jennifer Elliot is at far right.

 

The Australian Press Council was pleased to meet at its Sydney offices with Tasneem Chopra, a leading cross-cultural consultant with over two decades of service the local and international community. She is a prominent activist with a passion for addressing social justice issues.

Over an informal lunch with Council staff and members, Ms Chopra discussed issues relating to the representation of Muslims in the Australian media. Her insights on diversity, identity and racism will be invaluable to the Press Council.


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Presentation of Press Freedom Medals - Sydney (19 May 2017)

2017 Press Freedom Medal winners Peter Timmins, left, and Michael Cameron.

 

The Australian Press Council held a special awards ceremony in Sydney on 19 May to honour the work of two outstanding individuals, presenting them each with the Press Freedom Medal, for their major contributions to ensuring a free and open society.

The Press Freedom Medals were awarded to Peter Timmins, from the Australian Open Government Partnership Network and Michael Cameron, from News Corp Australia.

Peter Timmins is a well-known advocate of improved standards of transparency and accountability and Australia's leading expert on Freedom of Information (FOI) policy and privacy, as well as being a leader of the Australian Open Government Partnership Network and publisher of the Open and Shut blog.

Michael Cameron is the National Editorial Counsel for News Corp Australia. He leads an in-house legal team, which he established, whose members have appeared in dozens of matters involving challenges to suppression orders, injunctions, defamation actions and so on, advocating for transparency and open justice.

Press Council Chair Professor David Weisbrot said:

“This year's winners have been exemplary in their tireless pursuit of the critical principle that citizens have a right to know, and so governments, and other important public and private institutions, must operate in an open and transparent manner.

"Although the Press Council did not set off with this intention, this year's Press Freedom Medal winners prove the point that free speech and press freedom are not only reliant on brave and capable editors and journalists, but also on lawyers, activists and others who fight to preserve and extend these freedoms."

At the awards ceremony both men spoke of being honoured by the award. 

Mr Cameron said he accepted the award on behalf of the editorial legal team at News Corp Australia, making special mention of senior litigation counsel Larina Mullins. He said the "tireless work" of the legal team "enables the publication of articles that would be otherwise be barred by our unduly secretive courts system and plaintiff-friendly defamation laws". 

Peter Timmins said the Press Freedom Medal was a "tribute to the many individuals and organisations… that believe strongly in open, transparent and accountable government and joined the Australian Open Government Partnership Network to seek to ensure the government lives up to its Open Government Partnership commitments". He said the pursuit of reform to improve democracy was a "never-ending journey".

The ceremony was attended by members of the Press Council, journalists and guests from a wide variety of organisations.


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Press Council launches its first—ever Reconciliation Action Plan (16 March 2017)

Press Council Chair at the RAP launch with (left to right) Savannha Roberts (Reconciliation Australia), Simone Proctor
(Reconciliation Australia), Naomi Moran (Koori Mail), Terrri Janke (Terri Janke & Company) and Kirstie Parker (NCIE).

  

David Weisbrot speaking at the podium        NCIE’s Kirstie Parker delivering her address

The Australian Press Council on 16 March 2017 launched its first-ever Reconciliation Action Plan, which documents the objectives and strategies that the organisation will employ over the next two years to promote understanding and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The Chair of the Press Council, Professor David Weisbrot AM, other Council members, Indigenous community leaders and representatives of a range of other organisations celebrated the launch at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern, NSW.

The Press Council’s draft RAP was developed in 2016 and submitted to Reconciliation Australia for review, in accordance with established processes. It has now been endorsed and becomes an official Press Council policy document.

“Reconciliation Australia gave us very strong support throughout the process, working patiently with us as we developed a plan appropriate for an organisation like ours that operates in the media sphere,” Professor Weisbrot said. “We could not have done this without their expertise and wisdom.

“Our member publications tell Australia’s story, including both the hardships faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their successes, and this RAP is one way of ensuring that Indigenous people and perspectives are involved in shaping that narrative.

“The challenge now is to make sure that we implement these ambitious plans fully and effectively. We have already taken the first steps. We recently welcomed the Koori Mail as our first Indigenous member publication, we will announce shortly the name of our first Indigenous Council member and we are now sourcing goods and services from Indigenous suppliers.”

The CEO of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, Kirstie Parker, said: “Aboriginal representation in media now extends beyond media outlets to representation on the adjudicatory body, the Australian Press Council….I cannot emphasise enough the importance of Aboriginal representation in media, which has been high on our agenda since the 1970s when the first community controlled Aboriginal media outlets formed.”

Kirstie Parker is a former Editor of the Koori Mail newspaper, arguably the most respected and most successful Aboriginal newspaper in Australia. In February 2017, the Press Council welcomed the Koori Mail as its first Indigenous publication member.

The Press Council's RAP commits the organisation to:

  • encouraging membership by Indigenous newspapers, magazines and online news and current affairs sites;
  • engaging and consulting with Indigenous groups, individuals and organisations regarding the Press Council’s work;
  • promoting employment and internship opportunities for Indigenous people at the Press Council and among member publications;
  • promoting Indigenous cultural competence among staff;
  • considering the impact on Indigenous peoples of current and proposed Standards of Practice;
  • encouraging the Australian news media to report issues of importance for Indigenous communities in a respectful way; and
  • endeavouring to promote high quality reporting in relation to Indigenous peoples.
Watch David Weisbrot's address at the event.
Watch Kirstie Parker's address.
Download a printable copy of the Press Council's RAP here.


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2016 Council Events


Adelaide Round Table (8 December 2016)

The Australian Press Council has held the second in a planned series of Round Table discussions  examining matters in relation to the treatment of children in news reporting. The meeting in Adelaide on 8 December was attended by some two dozen representatives of media, child welfare groups and the South Australia Police.

"We want to engage with a wide range of people on this subject, which emerges from complaints to the Council and from some recent adjudications, and is part of our broader project on maintaining high standards of journalism," said Council Chair, Prof David Weisbrot.  “Ultimately this might lead to the development of a guideline for reporters and editors, or the development of training and education resources for the industry and media students, or some combination of these things.”Most print and online news reporting is subject to the Council’s Standards of Practice, so the aim of this exercise is to provide mechanisms for encouraging and supporting excellent reporting.

Some of the concerns that have been raised with the Press Council include:

  • reporting on, and especially using photos of, children in distress or in extremis;
  • interviewing children without the presence or consent of a parent or guardian (or the equivalent); and
  • special considerations around children’s privacy, for example, the appropriation of photographs from social media sites and reporting on child sexual abuse.


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Professor Mark Pearson at November 2016 Press Council Meeting  (25 November 2016)

  

Professor Mark Pearson, from the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science at Griffith University, was guest speaker at the 25 November quarterly meeting of the Press Council. Along with his colleague Associate Professor Jacqui Ewart, Mark runs a world-first project that aims to combat the negative stereotyping of Islam and Muslims in the media.

Since its inception in 2014, the project has created a suite of research-based multimedia training and education resources for Australian media practitioners and university journalism schools. Materials include an app, a website, a reporting handbook, audio visual materials and two comprehensive training packages.

The project won a 2016 Queensland Multicultural Award.

Watch the two videos of Mark Pearson's address to the Council. Click here and here.

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Timor-Leste delegation visits Press Council (15 November 2016)

  

Members of the newly-formed Timor-Leste Press Council visited the Australian Press Council offices in Sydney on 15 November 2016 to seek information about the complaints-handling processes and other operational procedures as they work to establish their organisation on a secure footing. The delegation has also visited the Indonesia Press Council since legislation in Timor-Leste was enacted to set up the Press Council in May of this year.

The Timor-Leste Press Law was approved by the President and has been in place since the beginning of 2015.  The new law establishes a Press Council as an independent body for media self-regulation. The Press Council is composed of two representatives from the journalistic community, one representative of media owners, and two representatives from the public.

“We value any opportunity to work with other press councils from around the world, particularly new councils and those from our region,” said Australian Press Council Chair David Weisbrot. “Quality journalism is crucially important in any democracy, and we assured our counterparts in Timor-Leste that we will do all we can to assist them in the difficult task of establishing a credible and effective press council in their country.”

The delegation to the Australian Press Council comprised:

  • Virgilio da Silva Guterres (President) Appointed by National Parliament
  • Jose Maria Ximenes (Member) Representing media owners
  • Hugo Maria Fernandes (Member) Representing AJTL Timor Leste Journalists Association
  • Paulo Adriano da Cruz Araujo (Member) Appointed by National Parliament Francisco
  • Simoes Belo (Member) Representing Timor Leste Press Club?
  • Ana Sequeira (Executive Director)


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Cisco Corea at August 2016 Press Council Meeting (19 August 2016)

Cisco Corea, who teaches MOJO, the mobile journalism unit, at Macleay College delivered a presentation to Council members on 19 August about the latest developments and technology for news-gathering and distribution. Cisco demonstrated to Council how a single journalist armed only with an iPhone 6 can record and edit broadcast-quality news footage and send it back to a newsroom anywhere in the world. The cost of the equipment necessary, even though it produces images of higher quality than the older generation of video cameras, is a fraction of what it was previously.

A lively question and answer session followed the presentation, as Cisco and members of the Council considered the implications of these changes on journalism and on media standards and ethics.

In addition to teaching MOJO courses, Cisco supervises the Macleay TV site and is a commercial producer and director with over ten years’ experience in the industry. Currently he runs his own production company, joker_theory, which services MTV Networks, Hitachi, ANZ Bank, Universal Music and Samsung. He is also the senior producer for Ministry of Sound Radio which is broadcast weekly on the Austereo Network across Australia and New Zealand.

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Sydney Round Table (11 August 2016)

The Australian Press Council has held the first of a planned series of Round Table discussions  examining matters in relation to the treatment of children in news reporting. The meeting in Sydney on 11 August was attended by some two dozen representatives of media, child welfare and consumer groups, as well as individuals with a strong personal interest or experience in the area.

"The theme of the new Round Table consultation, which will now move to at least two other cities in Australia, emerges from complaints to the Council, submissions and requests for meetings, and from some recent adjudications, and is part of our broader project on maintaining high standards of journalism," said Council Chair, Prof David Weisbrot. "We are seeking to engage with a wide range of people on this new subject. Ultimately this might lead to the development of a guideline for reporters and editors, or the development of training and education resources for the industry and media students, or some combination of these things."

Most print and online news reporting is subject to the Council’s Standards of Practice, so the aim of this exercise is to provide mechanisms for encouraging and supporting excellent reporting. Some of the concerns that have been raised with the Press Council include:

  • reporting on, and especially using photos of, children in distress or in extremis;
  • interviewing children without the presence or consent of a parent or guardian (or the equivalent); and
  • special considerations around children’s privacy, for example, the appropriation of photographs from social media sites and reporting on child sexual abuse.

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Press Council's Communications Director attends World Journalism Education Congress in Auckland, NZ (14-17 July 2016)

The Press Council’s Director of Research and Communications, Michael Rose, travelled to Auckland, NZ, to attend the 4th World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) on 14-17 July 2016.

The event, held in a different world city every three years, brought together in Auckland 226 delegates from 43 countries. The delegates were primarily journalism lecturers from universities, but also included representatives of interested parties such as the Australian Press Council who wanted to be informed of current trends in journalism education and efforts by educators to help young journalists do high-quality, ethically-sound work upon graduation.

Michael was also invited to attend a meeting of the steering committee of the newly-formed Media Educators Pacific (MEP) group, whose aim is to improve journalism education in developing nations of the south Pacific. Organisers of that meeting said they were concerned that a lack of qualified journalists and journalism educators was threatening the quality of Pacific media.

“This was a terrific opportunity for me to see first-hand what journalism educators from around the world were concerned about and how they were changing their teaching methods and course content to reflect the rapidly changing media environment,” Michael Rose said. “It was clear to me that journalism educators take very seriously the notion of including components in their courses about media ethics and media standards, and that was encouraging.

“I was also privileged to be able to sit in on the MEP steering committee meeting, at which I conveyed to participants the desire on the Press Council’s part to help, if requested, with development or revision of codes of practice or by acting as a liaison with experienced journalists in Australia who might be able to assist with training and curriculum development.”

For more on the WJEC event, click here

For more on the MEP steering committee meeting, click here

Michael Rose, back row, second from left, with editors and officials at the MEP meeting in Auckland. MEP President  Misa Vicky Lepou is front row, second from right.

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Press Council celebrates it 40th Anniversary Conference in Sydney (4-5 May 2016)

The Press Council's 4-5 May conference in Sydney, organised to mark the 40th Anniversary of the organisation’s formation in 1976, was a major success. Some 150 delegates registered for two full days of sessions that addressed major challenges facing journalism today. 

See the full conference program here.

We had two keynote events:  a speech by Russian investigative journalist Anna Nemtsova and an “in conversation” session with veteran publisher Ranald Macdonald. 

There were eight thought-provoking panels on topics ranging from the increasing constraints placed on journalists to the future of the craft in the digital publishing era.

There was a luncheon event with renowned photojournalist Kate Geraghty, moderated by Mike Bowers.

There was a very well attended evening event at The University of Sydney, in which former NSW  Premier Bob Car, two international journalists – Anna Nemtsova and Madhu Trehan – along with local writer/commentator Tom Dusevic,  grappled with the impact on democracy of the 24-hour news cycle.

We had master classes for student journalists and working reporters on the role of global press councils, on the reporting of suicide, on the reporting is Islam, and another on investigative journalism.

Reaction was uniformly positive - from speakers, panellists, delegates and media that covered the proceedings.

Watch this space for full video recordings of each session, which will be posted shortly.  

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Press Council Chair receives honorary degree from Macquarie University (14 April 2016)

Macquarie University Chancellor Michael Egan (left) and Press Council Chair David Weisbrot


The Chair of the Australian Press Council, Professor David Weisbrot AM, has been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D Litt) by Macquarie University, recognising his contributions to law reform, especially in relation to health and medical research.

Professor Weisbrot became Chair of the Press Council in March 2015. He is a former Professor of Law and Governance at Macquarie University.

The Macquarie citation for the honorary degree notes in part:

"...David Weisbrot has had an illustrious career in law, spanning many countries, branches of the profession and multiple fields of interest.

"Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, he is a Commissioner of the New South Wales Law Reform Commission and Emeritus Professor of Law and Honorary Professorial Fellow in Medicine at the University of Sydney. His previous academic roles include serving as Dean of two major law schools and Adjunct Professor of Law and Governance at Macquarie University Law School.

"Professor Weisbrot rose to public prominence as the longest serving President of the Australian Law Reform Commission. During his ten-year stint at the Commission from 1999 to 2009, he chaired 15 major inquiries. These included the landmark Attorney-General's National Task Force on Pro Bono Legal Services and reviews into the federal civil justice system, privacy and secrecy laws...."

Professor Weisbrot said:

"I am deeply honoured to be awarded an honorary doctorate by Macquarie University, because my experience as a law professor and a law reformer confirmed this University's very special commitment to the welfare and intellectual development of its students, as well as to innovative teaching and scholarship by its academic staff - and all of this without losing its historical focus on social justice."

Since becoming Chair of the Press Council, Professor Weisbrot has taken steps to alter the scope of the organisation, emphasising that maintaining high standards of practice is a shared enterprise with its publisher members, and seeking to expand Council membership to the growing online media space and to Australia's multicultural press. As well, he has spoken out strongly against measures which diminish the ability of journalists to do their work, including the government's metadata retention legislation, the diminishing of Freedom of Information rights and the current state of defamation laws.  

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Address to Press Council by SANE Chief Executive Officer Jack Heath (16 February 2016)

Jack Heath, CEO at SANE Australia, delivered an address to members of the Press Council at their 16 February 2016 meeting. The lunchtime talk was one of a series now being organised for Council members each time they meet in full session, in order to generate discussion with inspiring thought leaders from a variety of backgrounds.

Jack outlined for Council members the work of his organisation in advocating for improved mental health and support services available to anyone affected by mental illness. SANE is a national charity whose mission is to help people improve their lives and reduce the risk of suicide.

He noted that while media reporting on mental illness is improving, particularly stories about suicide, there were still a number of areas of concern. He described a cutting-edge project aimed at countering stereotyping of people with mental illness through inappropriate use of photographs and illustrations in news and feature articles.

In 2015 SANE partnered with Getty Images, one of the world leaders in visual communications, to undertake Australia's first research project asking: “What is a fair and accurate visual representation of mental illness?”

“While community attitudes toward the way we speak about mental illness, along with the Australian media’s reporting on this issue, are among the most responsible in the world, the way mental illness is visually portrayed remains a concern,” Jack said.

The project involved examination of a series of images depicting mental illness and gauging reaction to these, with a view to highlighting the type of images that help reduce stigma and stereotyping.

Jack is widely-known for his work in suicide prevention and the promotion of mental health. In 1996, he founded the Inspire Foundation which runs the Reachout.com youth mental health service. He established the Inspire Foundation in Ireland and in the United States, where he was CEO from 2010-11. Jack also has extensive government experience as a senior adviser and speechwriter to Federal Ministers.

For more on the work of SANE Australia, click here.

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Sydney Round Table (5 February 2016)

The third in the Press Council’s series of Round Table discussions on media reporting of family violence took place in Sydney on 5 February 2016.

Representatives from major NSW-based media organisations and groups involved in family violence prevention took part, including significant representation from family violence counselling services, survivors and the NSW Police.

The three Round Tables - in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney - helped the Press Council in its consideration of what measures should be taken to improve reporting of family violence. The Council also conducted a thorough examination of relevant Press Council complaints, similar guidelines by other organisations, and a wide range of research literature. 

On 2 March 2016, after this extensive six-month consultation process, the Council officially released its new Advisory Guideline on Family and Domestic Violence (which were approved at the full Council meeting on 26 February 2016). 

“Because family violence is such an urgent concern in our community, the Press Council decided that it should contribute decisively to helping improve and expand the coverage of it and of related social problems,” said Council Chair Professor David Weisbrot.

“It was really gratifying to see the way in which our Round Tables, which brought together experts from the sector, as well as survivors, police and senior journalists and editors with experience in such reporting,  enabled so many people from different sectors, backgrounds and interests to provide significant input and to work constructively towards a common goal.

“Those discussions, and the other consultative work we engaged in, have allowed us to produce what I think is going to be a very useful, effective and influential document.”

Click here for details of the Melbourne Round Table and Brisbane Round Tables. Click here for a copy of the Press Council’s new Advisory Guideline on Family and Domestic Violence Reporting.

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2015 Council Events

Address to Press Council by ACMA Chairman and CEO Chris Chapman (27 November 2015)

Chris Chapman, the Chairman and CEO at the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), delivered an address to members of the Press Council at their final meeting for 2015. Drawing on 10 years’ experience in the role, Chris provided Council members with insights into how the ACMA operates and how it is adjusting its concepts and procedures in the world of digital media and communications convergence.

In the full text of his 27 November address, Chris noted that the ACMA and the Press Council have “genuine shared interests” that will likely strengthen in the future.

“Unsurprisingly, those shared interests largely coalesce around news and current affairs and the roles that our two organisations play in dealing with complaints about departures from community’s standards,” he said.

However, Chris also noted that his organisation has been trying to “rise above regulation as a transactional, adversarial matter”. He said it was important for regulators to step back and consider carefully the reasons for regulation and the broader issue of the public interest.

“Regulating is now just one of the things we do,” he said. “No longer do we regulate above the community, we regulate with it. We’ve moved considerably from a red-tape, process-driven reactive approach to a lighter touch, harms based approach to regulation in the public interest. And we’ve come to the sober realisation that the regulator is not going to be able to do it all – responsibility must increasingly be shared. Industry is now a key player rather than the adversary.”

Chris thanked the Press Council for the invitation to speak at the meeting and said he was hopeful that it represented “another step in a renewed, engaged, harmonised collaboration between the APC and the ACMA”.

For the full text of Chris Chapman’s 27 November address, click here.

In 2015, Press Council Chair David Weisbrot instituted the practice of inviting a prominent speaker to each meeting of the full Council to share insights with members on cutting edge topics related to media, current affairs, scientific research and other areas of emerging importance.

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Press Council sponsors 2015 QUT Journalism Award

Congratulations to Queensland University of Technology journalism student Gabrielle Copp for winning the Dave English Award for Best Public Affairs/Investigative Feature. This award is sponsored by the Australian Press Council.

The Council funds prizes each year for outstanding achievement in courses directly related to the study of print journalism, particularly in the area of ethics. The Council supports prizes offered by University of Newcastle, Edith Cowan University, Queensland University of Technology, University of Canberra, University of Wollongong and University of Sydney.

Pictured, left to right: Australian Press Council Member Julie Kinross, award winner Gabrielle Copp and Lexy Hamilton-Smith, partner of the late Dave English, the Australian journalist in whose honour the award is made. 

Dave English wrote a number of highly-regarded investigative articles, most notably in relation to British nuclear testing at Maralinga, in South Australia. 

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Brisbane Round Table (30 October 2015)

  

The second in the Press Council’s series of Round Table discussions on media reporting of family violence took place in Brisbane on 30 October 2015. Representatives from Queensland media organisations and groups involved in family violence prevention took part, including significant representation from Aboriginal organisations, family violence counselling services and the Queensland Police.

The Press Council is considering what measures might be taken to improve reporting of family violence. This might include developing a new Specific Standard for such reporting, or Best Practice guidelines, or an educational package for the industry, or perhaps some combination of the three.

“We are finding these Round Tables to be extraordinarily useful,” Council Chair Prof David Weisbrot said. “As was the case with our Melbourne discussions in September, the representatives who attended shared their expertise and concerns with us in a very frank way.

"They were keen to highlight some of the major improvements in the way such stories have been handled in recent times, but also pointed out some of the problems that remain in media handling of these important stories. One thing that everyone readily agreed upon was the need to provide trusted sources of information about family violence in Australia, so that reporters and editors can in turn offer their readers the full picture.”

Further Round Tables are being considered for early next year, with the intention to develop a discussion paper for consideration by the full Press Council at its first or second meeting in 2016.

Click here for details of the Melbourne Round Table

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Filipino Editors (28 October 2015)

  

Eric Maliwat of the Philippine Community Herald                             L to R, Maryrose Salubre, Ramon Carpo and Jaime K. Pimentel

Left to Right, Eric Maliwat, Marilie Bomediano, Council Chair Prof David Weisbrot, John Pender, Jaime K. Pimentel and Ramon Carpo.

 

As part of the Press Council’s initiative to embrace and reflect Australian diversity by encouraging publications from the thriving multicultural press to join, representatives of the Filipino press met on 28 October 2015 with Council Chair David Weisbrot, Executive Director John Pender, and the Director of Research and Communications, Michael Rose.

The journalists were briefed on the Council’s initiative and the various benefits and responsibilities of Council membership were explained.

The representatives of the Filipino media attending were:

  • Marilie Bomediano, Ang Kalatas
  • Ramon Carpo, Northside Radio 
  • Eric Maliwat, Philippine Community Herald/Radio Rizal
  • Jaime K. Pimentel, Convenor/Moderator Filipino Press, Sydney
  • Maryrose Salubre, Radio Sandigan


Leading Filipino editor Romeo Cayabyab of e-Manila was instrumental in arranging the meeting, but unfortunately was away on urgent business overseas on this occasion.

“There is still a glaring gap in the Council’s membership and that is the thriving multicultural press that reflects the reality and vibrancy of Australia’s multicultural society,” Prof Weisbrot said.

“The leadership of the Council remains strongly committed to engaging with the multicultural press in Australia and encouraging the Council’s inclusiveness, both in terms of formal membership as well as in access to Council programs and activities.”

Membership in the Council would bring multicultural publications some immediate benefits. Publishers can display the Press Council logo on their mastheads, along with a statement of their formal commitment to upholding the highest standards of journalism. By virtue of committing to the Council’s Standards, media organisations are exempt from the operation of the federal Privacy Act 1988 in the course of their journalism activities.

Further, the Council’s complaints process seeks to be as informal and prompt as possible, and serves as an alternative to litigation. In many cases, resolution of a complaint by the Council keeps an aggrieved reader out of the courtroom, reducing time and expense for publishers. Membership also gives publishers the opportunity to add their voices to an organisation dedicated to safeguarding freedom of the press, free speech and public access to information.

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Melbourne Round Table (25 September 2015)

Two dozen people from media organisations and groups involved in family violence prevention, along with the 2011 Victorian Young Australian of the Year, Anj Barker - a survivor of family violence and a noted campaigner on these issues - attended a Round Table meeting in Melbourne hosted by the Australian Press Council on 25 September. 

The session was aimed at advancing the Press Council’s current examination of reporting of family violence and what measures might be taken to improve it.  This might include developing a new Specific Standard for such reporting, or Best Practice guidelines, or an educational package for the industry, or perhaps some combination of the three. 

“The sharing of views, information, experience and expertise was truly outstanding, and all of my Press Council colleagues and I came away from the session much better equipped to continue the process of examining the ways in which this issue is reported in the Australian media, and how we can all work to improve performance in this critical area.  I have been involved in community consultation for over 30 years as a law reformer, and I can’t recall a more informative or valuable meeting,” Council Chair Prof David Weisbrot said.

Another Round Table is planned for late October in Queensland, with a third one being considered for Sydney later in the year.

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Address to Press Council by Barnaby Caddy (28 August 2015)

Barnaby Caddy, an international development and humanitarian aid specialist who has worked for over a decade as an advisor and manager of aid projects in South East Asia, West Africa, the Pacific and North Korea, delivered the second in an ongoing series of lunchtime addresses to Council members.

At the 28 August, 2015 Council meeting in Sydney, Barnaby described for members his recent three-month stint in North Korea on a consultancy with a UN agency during which he provided support to the mission's monitoring and evaluation efforts. This involved conducting fact-finding visits to villages and towns which rarely if ever see foreign visitors.

Barnaby shared his views on the complexities of managing an aid program in such an isolated country, and explained how the use of media and government messaging can influence society.

“It’s important that the bridges built between the North Korean Government and the humanitarian community continue to be strengthened, and that this message is shared not just in North Korea but in donor countries as well,” Barnaby said, referring to the effect that messaging can have on an aid program.

Barnaby has managed humanitarian responses and longer term development projects on behalf of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, the World Bank, Oxfam, The Fred Hollows Foundation, private consultancy firms, and other international NGOs.

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Visit by Chinese journalists
(23 June 2015)

The Press Council’s Director of Research and Communications, the Director Of Complaints, Office Manager Shamim Islam and Public Member John Bedwell met on 23 June 2015 with a delegation of Chinese journalists who were in Australia on an exchange program organised by the Melbourne-based Asia Pacific Journalism Centre. The delegation of six senior editors were seeking detailed information about the Press Council and its standards and complaints work. The All China Journalism Association, represented on the delegation by Wang Lin of Beijing, is considering establishing a national press council in China.

Left to right, standing: Wang Jian, Director of Newspaper Development Researching Department, Ningxia Daily; Paul Nangle, Press Council Director of Complaints; Zhang Shuhong, Director of Planning Department, Economic Daily; Michael Rose, Director of Research and Communications; Li Chunlin, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Guangming Daily Press Group (head of delegation); Xiang Jinke, President of the Journalists Association of Hebei Province; John Wallace, Director, Asia Pacific Journalism Centre; John Bedwell, Public Member, Press Council; Li Jing Ji, Asia Pacific Journalism Centre.
Seated: ; Shamim Islam, Office Manager; Yang Yihua, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Qianjiang Evening News; Wang Lin, International Liaison Department, All-China Journalists Association.

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Address to Press Council by Professor John Mattick AO (22 May 2015)

Professor John Mattick AO, Executive Director and Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Garvan Institute, delivered an inspiring lunchtime address to the May 22, 2015 meeting of the Press Council in Sydney.

Professor Mattick was appointed Executive Director of the Garvan Institute in 2012. He has a distinguished career in molecular biology, most recently as an NHMRC Australia Fellow and Director of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland. He was awarded the 2011 IUBMB (International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)medal, the 2012 HUGO (Human Genome Organisation) Chen Medal, membership of the European Molecular Biology Organisation and Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science.

His topic, “The revolutionary impact of genomics on healthcare and the economy”, may not at first glance seem directly related to the work of the Press Council. However, Professor Mattick’s talk demonstrated clearly how the latest research in genomics is having a profound effect on all aspects of contemporary life, with equally important ramifications for the reporting of these developments, and reporting about science generally, in the media.

Over the past 20 years Professor Mattick has pioneered a new understanding of the nature and operation of the genetic information of humans and other complex organisms. He has published over 250 research articles and his work has received coverage in Nature, Science, Scientific American, New Scientist and the New York Times, among many other media outlets.

Professor Mattick’s talk to the Council highlighted not only the extraordinarily rapid advances in genetic science and technology and their effects on improved diagnosis, treatment and personalised medicine, but also the important ethical, social and economic implications. For example, the sequencing of the first human genome, completed in 2001, took about ten years and over $US3 billion. Today, the Garvan Institute has one of three "next generation” machines in the world capable of sequencing up to 20,000 genomes in a year for a few thousand dollars each.

The cost of gene sequencing for clinical purposes will continue to fall enormously, but the more personal genetic information that is available will increase potential concerns about privacy, security, discrimination and improper use - requiring a strong platform of legal and ethical safeguards to ensure that the benefits substantially outweigh the risks.

The Press Council plans to continue inviting guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds to share with Council members their cutting edge work and insights.

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Visit by Chinese delegation (19 March 2015)

A delegation of Chinese officials, headed by Mr Li Dawei of the Chinese Academy of Press and Publication, visited the Press Council offices on 19 March 2015 to learn more about the work of the Council. The Chinese Academy of Press and Publication is a body that concerns itself with printing, publishing and related research in China. Li Dawei also holds the position of Chairman of the Books Association in China.

Left to right: Zhou Yiming, Deputy General Manager, Shanghai Zhongshu Press Co. Ltd; Zhang Yongqing, Chairman, Hubei Xianjin Cultural Communication Co.Ltd; Wang Qiquan, General Manager, Henan Tianxing Education and Publication Co., Ltd; Professor David Wesibrot; Deputy Executive Director Georgina Dridan; Li Dawei, Deputy Director, Chinese Academy of Press And Publication; Jin Hao; General Manager, Shanghai Zhongshu Press Co. Ltd; Yu Xiaohua, Chairman, Hebei Yilulingxian Press Co.Ltd.   

 

 Mr Li Dawei presents a gift to Council Chair Prof David Weisbrot, in appreciation of the visit.

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