Back to the Source: Australian Investigative Journalism Conference

ACIJ-Invest Journalism 2011

Multimedia Social Sciences (General)

Back to the Source: ACIJ Investigative Journalism Conference
16-17 September 2011 @ University of Technology, Sydney

The Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ) is now calling for papers for its national Investigative Journalism Conference, Back to the Source, to be held in Sydney on 16-17 September @ UTS.

Papers will also be considered for inclusion in the Pacific Journalism Review May 2012.

This year the conference will focus on a key aspect of how investigative journalists work: their relationship with their sources.

Australian journalists welcomed the passing of Federal shield laws to protect their sources earlier this month.

Yet at the very same time, 2 court cases underway in NSW show how fragile that protection may be.

The NSW Crime Commission has issued subpoenas demanding that two Sydney Morning Herald journalists, Linton Besser and Dylan Welch, hand over their mobile phones and SIM cards to its lawyers. Besser and Welch have been investigating a high-profile legal battle between the Crime Commission and the Police Integrity Commission.

The subpoenas also call for them to hand over documents, phone accounts and any other communication relating to contact with PIC officers – a clear attempt to identify the journalists’ sources.

In a separate case, property developer Helen Liu is taking action in the NSW Supreme Court action against The Age and Fairfax journalists Richard Baker, Phillip Dorling and Nick McKenzie, seeking to have them reveal sources for their story alleging a corrupt relationship between Ms Liu and former Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon.

On a more positive front, Federal FOI legislation and reforms such as the GIPA (Government Public Access Information Act) NSW promise greater access for journalists and a strengthened public right to know.

Yet both State and Federal governments continue to use personal privacy and confidentiality provisions, and commercial confidentiality, to deny journalists access to information about the workings and decision-making processes of bureaucracy – with the recent controversies surrounding the Christmas Island detention centre providing a powerful case study.

At a global level, the Wikileaks saga has raised fundamental questions about the relationship between sources and journalists. Investigative journalists are also grappling with the challenges and opportunities opened up by data-journalism, crowd-sourcing and other forms of computer-assisted journalism.

The conference will seek to encourage debate on all these issues, and offer practical workshops on new tools and methods for investigative journalists.

There will be both a peer-reviewed and professional stream over the 2 days.

Abstracts: Please send abstracts of between 2-300 words to by 10 June 2011.

The abstracts will be peer-reviewed prior to the conference.