News

Can we still trust the media?


12 April 2013

Media critics and reformers alike often draw on the point that journalists rank at the same bottom-level of trust as used-car salesmen. And in the aftermath of the phone-hacking scandal in the UK, and the subsequent media inquiries, both Leveson and Finklestein, trust in media has become a central issue, not just for the public, but for media workers too.

In his role as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney, Peter Fray, the former publisher and editor-in-chief of The Sydney Morning Herald, will chair a Sydney Ideas panel discussion that will go beyond the surveys in order to approach matters of trust and integrity by asking critical questions of some of the core concepts that inspire and characterise the media.

The panel will address ideas of objectivity, transparency, accountability, and the public interest and explore whether these big concepts still have power in our new media environment.

Members of the panel will be: Associate Professor Steven Maras, from the Department of Media and Communications and author of Objectivity in Journalism; Dr Fiona Martin, Senior Lecturer in Convergent and Online Media, Department of Media and Communications, and ARC chief investigator 'Mediating the Conversation'; journalist and lawyer Paul Chadwick, the first Director Editorial Policies of the ABC and now a director of Guardian Australia; and Amanda Wilson, former editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

For Associate Professor Steven Maras the event arises out of a certain frustration with the way issues of trust and credibility have been framed. "What seems to have dropped away from the debate are questions of integrity, and central to that are the principles which guide judgements and actions of a principled media," he said.

While inevitably tied to deadlines and news values Maras argues that principles also have an important role to play in media work. "And of course the perfect way to make principles meaningful for media workers and the public is to interpret and reflect on them in a collaborative way," he said.


On the panel

  • On Objectivity, Associate Professor Steven Maras, Department of Media and Communications and author of Objectivity in Journalism (Polity Press, 2012)
  • On Transparency, Dr Fiona Martin, Senior Lecturer in Convergent and Online Media, Department of Media and Communications, ARC chief investigator 'Mediating the Conversation'.
  • On Accountability, Paul Chadwick, journalist and lawyer. First Director Editorial Policies of the ABC (2007-12) and now a director of Guardian Australia.
  • On the Public Interest, Amanda Wilson, Director, Amanda Wilson Communications and former editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

Event details

What: Trusting the Media, a Sydney Ideas event

When: 6 to 7.30pm, Tuesday 16 April

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus

Cost: Free

Book now online


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Media enquiries: Jacqueline Chowns, 02 9036 5404, 0434 605 018, jacqueline.chowns@sydney.edu.au