Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief goes back to uni

2 December 2010

Peter Fray, editor-in-chief of The Sydney Morning Herald and Sun Herald, has been named the First Decade Fellow in a prestigious appointment to the University of Sydney's Department of Media and Communications.

The First Decade Fellowship is an exciting initiative to celebrate the Department's 10th Anniversary as a teaching program.

The competitive award was open to senior practicing professionals interested in exploring questions about the current and future state of media and communications.

The Fellowship involves a four-month appointment as professional-in-residence, involving research, workshops with students, a public lecture and final written publication.

Fray began his Fellowship this week. He will divide his time between work at Fairfax Media and specific weeks on campus during the early part of 2011.

His research will explore the role of the newspaper editor in the age of digital media.

Print newspapers are under challenge to maintain circulation and revenues at a time when readers can get their news and information from a variety of other media sources.

"There's no doubt the media is in transition and the challenges ahead around print and online - and across all platforms - require new thinking," Fray said.

"In an age of the citizen journalist, what is the role of the editor? How do editors balance the interests of the public with what is in the public interest? Should they even do that when content can be delivered on-demand on the sole basis of what readers want to read?"

Away from the daily pressures of work, the Fellowship will allow Fray "the time and headspace" to explore such questions. Fairfax Media, particularly The Sydney Morning Herald publisher Lloyd Whish-Wilson, have encouraged his pursuit of this project at a time of great change in the newspaper and media industry.

"I'd like to thank the University and especially the Department of Media and Communications for giving me this opportunity to step back from my daily job and think about the how and why of what journalists do and, in particular, what editors do," Fray said.

"I am already getting plenty of inspiration from the staff," he said. "I plan to work with students, academics and fellow media professionals on this project. I am also happy to assist students and staff with any insights I might have from more than two decades in the media."

The Chair of Department, Dr Steven Maras, said that it was a long-held aspiration to run a professional-in-residence scheme. The Department was struck by the relevance and timeliness of Fray's proposal. "A lot of work is addressing the changing role of journalists and the role of journalism in the digital era, but there is far less work on the role of the editor," Maras said. In supporting Peter Fray as First Decade Fellow, Maras sees the Department as furthering its goal to contribute to public debate about media and communications.

Contact: Jacqueline Chowns

Phone: 9036 5404; 0434 605 018

Email: 0e2a06094d0c19033d004f37231c24342b1801102a0216005b310804694e31