Andrew Bent Panel Discussion

Andrew Bent Panel Discussion

On 21 May, ABC Friends Tasmania and the University of Tasmania Media School held a public forum to commemorate the 199th anniversary of the birth of independent journalism in Australia.

Left to Right: Peter George, Deborah Fleming, Martin Flanagan and Alana Mann
Left to Right: Peter George, Deborah Fleming, Martin Flanagan and Alana Mann

In 1824, Andrew Bent published his Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen’s Land Advertiser, in defiance of Governor Arthur’s censorship regime, and thus independent journalism was birthed in Australia.

A full house participated in a lively discussion held on campus at the University. While both guest speakers and audience members deeply value the role the ABC plays in our society, the emerging consensus was that the ABC could do much better in meeting the needs of the Tasmanian community.

The panel discussion topic was:

In a period of rapid social, economic and technological change, how might the national public broadcaster evolve to ensure:

  • It meets the public’s need for reliable and objective news and information vital for a healthy democracy;
  • It contributes to the Tasmanian community’s self-identification and resilience by informing, entertaining and reflecting that community;
  • It contributes to respectful and reasoned discussion and debate about pressing and emerging issues confronting Tasmanian society.

The guest speakers were:

  • Martin Flanagan – a Tasmanian journalist and author of 16 books, Martin has written extensively on Australian culture, sport and the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

  • Deborah Fleming – worked in newspapers in the UK and with the BBC before joining the ABC. Deborah was Executive Producer of the 7:30 Report in both Brisbane and Sydney and founding Executive Producer of Australian Story. She won a Walkley Award in 2005 for her ‘outstanding contribution to journalism.’

  • Peter George – now retired after a career in journalism and broadcasting spanning 40 years, Peter is one of Australia’s most experienced and respected international journalists. The ABC’s first Middle East correspondent, Peter was a foundation reporter with Foreign Correspondent and an investigative journalist with Four Corners.

The discussion was chaired by Professor Alana Mann, Head of the Media School at UTAS.

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