Governor enters the Twittersphere with Who’s Who pics of #G20


Congratulations to Griffith University journalism students on their excellent coverage of the G20 from our South Bank newsroom and to their mentors at the Brisbane Times and 4BC.
This story by Elizabeth Andal about the former chief justice and now Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey entering the Twittersphere with his photos with G20 dignitaries is just a taste. See the for the full coverage.

Originally posted on The Source News:


Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey has entered the Twittersphere with a series of posts of himself with G20 dignitaries.

His most recent post featured Twit pics of him greeting Russian President Vladimir Putin with a handshake upon his arrival in Brisbane airport last night.

Governor de Jersey also tweeted a picture of himself casually chatting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

On Wednesday the governor proudly posted his first tweet, and staff followed with the official announcement that he had entered the Twittersphere, featuring a photograph of him writing and posting that historic first tweet.

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International studies point to best practice for reporting Islam and stories involving Muslims


Three key international studies counsel journalists to reflect carefully on their practice when they are reporting news and issues involving Islam and people who follow it.

Griffith University colleague Dr Jacqui Ewart and I have been funded to explore the best practice in reporting upon the Islamic religion and Muslim people with a view to developing educational resources and training materials.

The project has involved a literature review of the field, the identification of case studies in the Australian media highlighting different approaches to such coverage, and the analysis of extended interviews we are conducting with journalists, educators, students, media relations personnel and other experts the topic.

An important part of the literature review has been to identify similar studies conducted internationally on the topic – ably conducted by one of our research assistants, experienced journalist Guy Healy.

We have identified these three reports as offering excellent guidance to journalists and educators working in this space and we would appreciate hearing from those of you willing to engage in dialogue on the topic.


Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 6.36.02 PMRupar, Verica (2012). Getting the facts right: Reporting ethnicity and religion. A study of media coverage of ethnicity and religion in Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.[Project Report]. Brussels: International Federation of Journalists. Available at:

This report from Associate Professor Dr Verica Rupar of Cardiff University (now with AUT University, Auckland) aims to improve “…the media’s ability to accurately and fairly report on people, events and issues that touch upon ethnicity and religion.” It draws upon interviews with 117 journalists in nine EU countries and the analysis of almost 200 news stories.

While its scope goes well beyond the reporting of Islam and Muslims, many of its examples and recommendations apply to this religion and its followers.

The study highlights immigration as a topic conflated with Muslims and Islam.

The report suggests the main obstacles to good reporting are the poor financial state of the media, overloading of reporters, lack of time, lack of knowledge, and lack of in-house training.

Overall, it identifies the media’s tasks as:

* Reporting factually and accurately on acts of racism and intolerance

* Being sensitive when writing about tensions between communities

* Avoiding derogatory stereotypical depiction of members of religious groups

* Challenging the assumptions underlying intolerant remarks made by speakers in the course of interviews, reports, and discussion programs.

It calls upon journalists to become more familiar with with anti-discrimination legislation, use broader networks of expert sources, ensure facts are put in context, avoid negative labels, portray people as human beings instead of members of an ethnic or religious group, organize in-house training and adopt internal editorial guidelines.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 6.39.00 PMGreater London Authority (2007). The Search for Common Ground: Muslims, non-Muslims and the UK media. A report commissioned by the Mayor of London. London: Greater London Authority. Available at:

This major study on British media coverage of Islam and Muslims was commissioned by the Greater London Authority in the wake of the London bombings and perceived polarisation of coverage in the media.

It involved opinion poll reviews, studies of recent books and stories, a randomised survey of one week’s news stories, examination of stories about political correctness, interviews with Muslim journalists, and analysis of a television documentary. The researchers were commissioned to inquire into whether the media stimulated informed debate about building a multicultural society, or oversimplified and provided insufficient background that pandered to reader anxieties and prejudices. Other key questions focused on whether stories fostered anxiety, fear and hostility between non-Muslims and Muslims, and whether reportage increased or decreased a sense of common ground, shared belonging and civic responsibility.

Its principal recommendations included (at p. 133):

  • News organisations should review their coverage of issues and events involving Muslims and Islam.
  • They should consider drawing up codes of professional conduct and style guides about use of terminology.
  • News organisations should recruit more journalists of Muslim heritage.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 6.40.35 PMPintak, Lawrence and Franklin, Stephen (eds) (2013). Islam for Journalists; A Primer on Covering Muslim Communities in America. [Digital newsbook]. US Social Science Research Council; Edward R Murrow College of Communication, Washington State University. Available at:

This 343-page e-book was released in 2011 and has since been updated. It contains chapters by several journalists and educators and is presented as an online course in covering stories related to Islam and Muslims. It features a useful glossary of Arabic terms and an extended list of resources.

In his afterward, titled ‘Islam on Main Street’ Lawrence Pintak states that the coverage of Islam is in many ways no different than the coverage of other topics, except that it is potentially inflammatory.

He suggests:

* carefully assess the bona fides of so-called experts, and make sure the audience is provided with the information they need to weigh the credibility of speakers.

* provide background and context when quoting non-academic “experts” and be transparent about their sponsorships and allegiances.

* turn to academics for guidance because many will offer a more researched and balanced perspective on the topic.

We look forward to hearing from others working in this space.


Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2014

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Presenting the best of @Griffith_Uni student news blogs


THE greatest reward for a teacher at any level of education is in celebrating your students’ successes. Colleague Mic Smith and I did this today as we announced the winners of various awards to our students in the course Online News Production, where students were assigned to create multimedia news content and post them to their own news blogs.

I hope you agree as you browse the winners’ work that there are some outstanding examples of multimedia journalism and social media engagement here across a host of topics.

Congratulations students on aiming for excellence … and achieving it!


Mark (@journlaw)


Brisbane students of Griffith University celebrate their Online News Production Golden Mouse Awards for excellence in news blogs. Photo: Jimmy Wall


Gold Coast Griffith University students proudly display their Golden Mouse awards for excellence in news blogging. Photo: Kirsty Schmitt

Golden Mouse Awards 2014 – Brisbane 

Golden Mouse Award for Best Overall Blog

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 1.37.11 PMErin Maclean

Lady Game Bug


Golden Mouse Award for Best Multimedia News Story

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 1.38.37 PMNatasha Hoppner

‘Police say vested interests will prevent power abuse’

B4G20 blog


Golden Mouse Awards – Gold Coast

Golden Mouse Award for Best Overall Blog

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 1.42.41 PMPaul Eyers, James Laidler and Tom Mann

Waterways News Gold Coast


Golden Mouse Award for Best Multimedia News Story

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 1.44.21 PMDanielle Laing

‘Food safety, fraud and what it means for organic farming in China’

Organic in China blog


Other category finalists and winners (Brisbane)

Best education or arts blog finalists

A Reel Film Focus

Jordan Towning, Jane Orme, Joshua Wells, Riley Jackson

Best education or arts blog winner

 Art Student Q :

Tara Ingham

Best human rights / international blog

Tamara Sydenham and Gabrielle Smith

Brisbane Universities Amnesty International Clubs

Best community blog

Emma McCluney

Ambush the Airwaves

Most mindful blog on social issues finalist

Jimmy Wall

Fork: Privacy and Cryptography News

 Most mindful blog on social issues winner

Christopher Da Silva and Tim Noyes (NA)

Hard Core Truth Australia

 Best multicultural or indigenous issues blog

Audrey Courty

Indigenous Pulse

Best mental health blog finalist

Daniel Conaghan: A Different Perspective

Best mental health blog winner

Talkin‘ About Mental Health

Krystal Gordon and Rachel Harding

Best sports blog

Nickolas Feldon and Jonathan Najarro

Round 13

Best nature, science or environment blog finalist

Amy Mitchell-Whittington: Fishes for Thought

Best nature, science or environment blog winner

Simon Graham: Returning Cuckoo


Finalists and winners (Gold Coast)

Best education or arts blog finalists

Lydia Collins Donlon – Chasing Swell –

Phil Kimmins Ubud Letters –

 Kirsty Schmitt - Educating Alice-

 Best education or arts blog winner

 Janis Hanley

Digital storytelling for learning

Best human rights / international blog finalists

Gold Coast Refugee Australia

Pratsiri Setthapong

Best human rights / international blog winner

Africa: The Real Picture

Ruth Goodwin, Uduakobong Etukudo, Ohimai Longe

Best community blog finalist

Sophie Wood 

Do Good Brisbane

Best community blog winners

Gabrielle Quinn and Jayde Austin

The Hidden Wonders

Most mindful blog on social issues finalists

Maleika Halpin:

Courtney Kelly  and Daphne Maresca:

Most mindful blog on social issues winner

Samuel Turner:

What are the Odds: Gambling in Australia

Best multicultural or indigenous issues finalists

Courtney Kelly – Bound By Culture –

Best multicultural or indigenous issues blog winner

Kaylene Lawson

Street Culture

Best health, nutrition and fitness blog

Jessica O’Donnell

Healthy Mind and Body

Best mental health blog finalists

Sarra Davis – Sincerely Sarra -  

Crystal-Rose Fleming- Youthful Health -

Best mental health blog winners

Jo-Anne Wormald and Emma Lasker (GC)

Golden Oldies News

Best sports blog finalists

Brooke Dalton and Alexandra Purser

SEQ Sports Report 

Best sports blog winner

Mathilda Andersson

The Sunny Side of Hockey

Best nature, science or environment blog finalists

Bjorg Hildrum Saltveit and Tone Skredderbakken


Best nature, science or environment blog winner

Kelly Campbell

Plastic For Fence Sitters

Best fashion or lifestyle finalist

Gabriella Ruiz

Brisbane Fashion Bloom

Best fashion or lifestyle winner

Casey Brown

The Fashion Connection 2014


Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2014

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Why The Australian is un-Australian: all ego and little heart

First they came for journalism educator Julie Posetti, for simply tweeting some critical comments made publicly by a former staffer of The Australian. [That time I did write a commentary in Crikey about why editors shouldn’t sue for defamation.]

Then they came for Matthew Ricketson, Greg Jericho, Margaret Simons, Wendy Bacon, Martin Hirst and Jenna Price and to my shame I said very little.

Well, this week they came for a good friend and colleague, Penny O’Donnell from the University of Sydney, and I refuse to remain silent. Enough is enough.

She is one of the most committed and respected journalism educators I know – in both research and teaching – and has shown the greatest courage in her personal life in recent years that has elevated my esteem for her even higher.

Sadly, the reputation of The Australian newspaper has followed the opposite trajectory. It is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, and my view is that the first 40 were far better than the last ten.

For many years I’ve been torn between my loyalty to The Australian as my former masthead where I learned a great deal as a young journalist in the early 1980s – and that very newspaper’s antipathy towards journalism education, the career I left it to pursue, and towards the people who do it.

[Note to colleagues: my comments here are about The Australian as a masthead and its leadership and branding – not about the scores of high quality journalists who produce stellar work there in both reporting and production. Similarly, I do not argue that every journalism educator is a saint or that every course is perfect.]

I’ve decided that the problem with The Australian as a masthead is that it is narcissistic and, like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, it lacks a heart. It is dry, unforgiving and remarkably impolite, often downright bitchy, to its media competitors and its enemies of the moment.

Sadly, like a true narcissist, it lets its own interests, agendas and catfights affect the quality of the journalism in its pages.

For a so-called intellectual broadsheet dealing with extremely complex political, scientific and social phenomena, The Australian has a remarkably simple and narrow world view.

WellfightIslamTheAustralianAs far as The Australian is concerned, it seems to be all about The Australian. And that’s about whether you are on the Left or the Right and whether you fit with its commercial objectives or stand in their way.

It does this blatantly in the media domain.

Like broadcaster Alan Jones it takes a ‘pick and stick’ approach to its friendships – and God help you if you are a perceived enemy.

The Media section is a corporate propaganda sheet. Its stories fit comfortably within newspaper’s agenda, achievements of any competitors or political enemies are played down or absent, the latest circulation figures are skewed to suit its image, and while the corporate and self-marketing line is front and centre.

Just peruse the Media Diary section every Monday and you get a stream of bile against people from the perceived enemy camps of Fairfax, the ABC, Media Watch, the Guardian, journalism education, the Daily Mail and commercial enemies all and sundry.

To use sporting parlance with political currency right now, the newspaper takes a ‘win at all costs’ approach to its market share and issues on its agenda. Alternative voices either don’t get a mention or are derided as ‘strident critics’ or belittled for their political allegiances.

It will jump at a stereotypical jingoistic headline on its front page – ‘We’ll fight Islam 100 years’ [see image] – without considering the potential consequence on sections of the community. Then, rather than apologise, it will blame the person it was quoting.

In its editorial on journalism education this week, the latest in a wave of assaults, The Australian conceded many of its own editors and journalists held a journalism degree. And that they should be critical and independent. But it seems that does not allow for criticism of Murdoch or The Australian.

This week the Media section attacked Penny O’Donnell for being critical of Murdoch and The Australian. We won’t go into the reporter’s misuse of the term “undercover” or the ethical issues associated with such matter if indeed it was one. That’s in JOUR101. I don’t deny The Australian the right to investigate and report upon journalism education. There is undoubtedly much that can be improved. But please do it fairly.

For mine, Penny O’Donnell would have been negligent in her job at the University of Sydney if she had not been critical of the current government’s media policy or of Murdoch and News Corp.

Any journalist that is not critical of any government’s media policy is not worth their salt.

And, as for News Corp, if it was The Australian pursuing a pharmaceutical story, and there was a big pharma company had been pilloried by the likes of the Leveson Inquiry for criminal wrongdoing with its ensuing trials and jailings of journalists and editors, and such a big pharma had thrown its considerable weight behind a political party at the recent federal election, how could a reporter not be critical of it?

Memo The Australian: It’s not always about you, or about Left or Right or on which side of your so-called ‘culture wars’ someone might sit.

It’s about what some of your top investigative reporters like Tony Koch and Hedley Thomas have revealed in important areas of social injustice and corruption that you allowed them investigate and report upon fairly.

So, The Australian, you’ve won a new critic. You’ve finally managed to alienate a loyal former staffer who has publicly defended you on many occasions.

I usually pick my friends and stick with them too, but you’ve lost me for now.

No, I’m not of the political Left or Right. I see the 21st century world is a tad more complex than that. I’m for a fair, accurate, mindful, independent journalism with a heart that can help change society for the better.

You know, journalism that afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted and all that … fair, accurate and compassionate reportage, without the influence of major political or commercial interests.

The sort you should be doing if you really were what we aspire to as ‘Australian’. The egalitarian little digger, perhaps a little anti-authoritarian, but with a Chesty Bond sized heart.

Instead, your so-called ‘undercover’ operations are really the equivalent of the iconic ‘underarm bowl’ – the sporting moment we would rather forget.

Wake up, Australian. Open up your agenda to other perspectives and go visit the Wizard of Oz and get yourself a heart. You might win some of us back again.


Have your say on social media …

© Mark Pearson 2014

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.


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