Tony Hill: Guest lecture

Managing editor of ABC News 24 and former ABC foreign correspondent Tony Hill gave a guest lecture to communication students of Western Sydney University on 3 May last.

Mr Hill explored the work of several WWI correspondents and spoke of the power of voice and truth. Mr Hill spoke in passion as he examined in turn journalists who risked their lives for the greater good of Australian society. Mr Hill also studied the reporting style of the war journalists as he gave a brief overview of the stories of these young war correspondents who joined the war effort at the battlefront to deliver the truth to the people back in Australia. Mr Hill compiled these stories into his book named ‘Voices from the Air’.

Mr Hill explored the similarities between the first ABC correspondents in WWI and the students present in the room. He explained how the war was a period of great change and the time we are living in now is also a period of change in the media industry. Digital technology has disrupted traditional news media. The correspondents in the war were also learning new skills, and learning how to be war and radio correspondents.

Mr Hill explored the revolutionary role of radio throughout WWII as the only available technology to reach mass audiences. It gave a personality and persona into people’s homes for the first time. Mr Hill went on to explain that a great advantage of radio is that reporters are in charge of the entire process of reporting. Radio is arguably therefore a powerful communication of voice.

WWI journalist Chestor Wilmot was a standout figure during the lecture. Mr Hill spoke in awe of Wilmot as he described Wilmot’s view of journalism as an analogy, or rather advice, to current journalism students. Wilmot was determined to report truthfully and due to this had a rather difficult career as a war correspondent. Mr Hill emphasised that our role as journalists is to present our audience with the facts themselves.

We are living in an age where issues such as freedom of speech and fake news is becoming increasingly concerning. From the Arab Springs to the latest presidency ‘scandals’ of Mr Donald Trump, the relevance of Mr Hill’s speech should be duly noted.

Mr Hill’s lecture was fascinating in respect of the journalists he aspires to be. In an age of citizen journalism and amateur bloggers via digital platforms, it seems we look left and right to strive to get one step ahead of competing journalists in a heated game of click-bate stats. Mr Hill looks behind him for inspiration and emphasised the power of truth and honesty in reporting. His lecture should serve as a reminder to communication students to remain on the path of ethics and to serve the greater good of society.

Head to Claudia Czerwinski’s Facebook page to watch a live snippet of the lecture.

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