Hold the obituary - Peter Fray calls for new approach to media

16 November 2011

Doomsday predictions about the future of the media are premature and will be proved false by a new compact between journalists, editors and their audiences, says Peter Fray, the University of Sydney's First Decade Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications.

In a Sydney Ideas talk on Wednesday 16 November, Fray, editor-in-chief and publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald will argue that despite the many challenges facing the media today, there is every reason to be optimistic about the future of journalism and its role in democracy.

"There is no question that the media is at a point of transformation, but this is an opportunity for reconstruction," he says.

"The new compact relies on a redefinition of journalism which incorporates its traditional watchdog role and celebrates its many other functions. At the heart of this new compact are editors - and their audiences."

His talk coincides with the federal government's media enquiry and constant debate about the viability of the traditional media in world awash with communication, information and opinions.

"The federal government's media enquiry is considering how 'quality journalism' can be supported. I wish it all the best, but doubt that outside intervention will save the media.

"The means of our salvation rest in the same place as our supposedly imminent destruction - our own hands. That is why it is high time for a new compact - or contract - between journalists, editors and their audiences."

Fray is a First Decade Fellow within the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. His talk is a personal take on the current events affecting the media landscape and marks the culmination of his research project exploring the role of the newspaper editor in the age of digital media.

"The new compact will work to increase accountability, transparency and the credibility of media organisations.

"It will have to acknowledge the media is part of the conversation, but not the conversation. And it will require editors to both lead and listen to their audiences. I am optimistic that is happening and will happen even more so in the near future.

"Journalism is too important to our democracy for it to wither and die. It will not, but it will have to change."

Peter Fray was appointed Publisher and Editor-in-Chief in February of this year, following his appointment as Editor-in-Chief of The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and The Sun-Herald in 2010. He has held various reporting and editing roles over a career spanning 25 years.

Before becoming editor of The Sydney Morning Herald in January 2009, Peter edited The Canberra Times and The Sunday Age and was the Deputy Editor of The Sun-Herald.

He has been the London-based European correspondent for the SMH and The Age, a Spectrum editor (SMH), news editor (SMH, The Sunday Age) and political correspondent (The Bulletin).

Event details

What: Editors, Journalists and Audiences: Towards A New Compact

When: 6.30pm, Wednesday 16 November

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions

Cost: This event is free and open to all, with no ticket or booking required. Seating is unreserved and entry is on a first come, first served basis.

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Contact: Verity Leatherdale

Phone: 02 9351 2208

Email: 410c3f190140651f33392e002036100b0730723e362a390b4a7c0835251b2d2d