Senior journalists join press freedom conference

APC conference lineup

Two investigative journalism luminaries, David Barstow of The New York Times and Kate McClymont of The Sydney Morning Herald, have been confirmed as speakers for the Australian Press Council’s international press freedom conference in May.

The pair will share their insights during a session entitled Is investigative journalism an expensive luxury or a necessity’, which will be hosted by editor of The Weekend Australian, Michelle Gunn.

Mr Barstow has won three Pulitzer Prizes, most recently in 2013 for his report on how discount retailer Wal-Mart used widespread bribery to dominate the market in Mexico.

Other speakers confirmed for the conference include:

  • BangBang Harymurti, Indonesian media freedom reform champion and editor of Tempo Magazine
  • Jacinta Carroll, head of the Counter-terrorism Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Kate Geraghty, three-time Nikon Walkley Press Photographer of the Year

Senior figures from the media divisions of Google, Facebook and Australia also have committed to attend.

The conference will be held across two days in Sydney and will explore obstructions to press freedom, defamation law reform, investigative journalism and the effect of technological change on journalism.

Press Council chairman Professor David Weisbrot said he had been thrilled at the number who’d agreed to speak at the conference.

Chair of the Australian Press Council, Professor David Weisbrot.

Chair of the Australian Press Council, Professor David Weisbrot.

“I’ve organised a lot of big conferences. Usually you draw up your wish list of star speakers and you’re happy if you get a quarter or a third of them. In this case we’ve got basically everybody,” he said.

One of the conference’s sessions will explore the future of news delivery and the impacts of digital on journalistic standards. It will feature director of Google News Lab USA, Steve Grove; Facebook Australia’s head of media partnerships, Kristin Carlos; and Twitter Australia’s director of media partnerships, Jonathan Harley.

Prof Weisbrot said the council had also extended an invitation to Kaiser Kuo, director of international communications at Chinese internet giant Baidu.

“It’s interesting that in a country that strictly regulates all press coverage, to what extent can a big social media platform like (Baidu) play a role in free information, free speech and press freedom,” Prof Weisbrot said.

In addition to the conference’s masterclasses and panel discussions, a free public event will be held at the University of Sydney exploring the impact of the 24 hour news cycle on a government’s ability to produce good, long-term policy.

The discussion will be moderated by ABC Radio National’s Fran Kelly and feature Sydney Morning Herald political editor Peter Hartcher, former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr, founding editor of independent Indian news site Madhu Trehan, and Russian based investigative journalist Anna Nemtsova.

Tickets can be bought at a discounted early bird rate until March 1.

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