ARTHUR NORMAN SMITH MEMORIAL LECTURE IN JOURNALISM
Arthur Norman Smith (1862–1935) was a founder of the Australian Journalists’ Association (AJA, now the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance), serving as its first full-term president in 1911–12. Smith ran his own press agency, specialising in political and industrial reporting, in the early years of the Australian Federation. He was also the author of Thirty Years: The Commonwealth of Australia 1901–1930 (1933). For his service to the AJA, Smith received the association’s two highest awards: the Gold Honor Badge (1913) and honorary life membership (1927).
After Smith’s death, members of his family endowed the Arthur Norman Smith Memorial Lecture in Journalism at the University of Melbourne, to honour his achievements and to examine important aspects of journalism. The first lecture was presented in 1936, and today the Arthur Norman Smith Memorial Lecture in Journalism is the most prestigious and respected in its field in Australia. Often provocative, it was originally devoted to newspaper issues, but the range of topics broadened to include developments in radio and television, training and professional development, politics and the press, privacy and public-interest questions. In fact, the 2010 lecture by Annabel Crabb, the ABC’s online chief political writer, was entitled ‘The End of Journalism as We Know It—and Other Good News Stories’.
The lecture is open to the public and has been delivered by many distinguished speakers, among them journalists and broadcasters, academics, politicians, newspaper editors and media executives. The first lecture was presented in 1936, by Sir Edward Cunningham, a former editor of the Melbourne Argus. His topic was ‘A Survey of the Press in Victoria’. Other newspaper editors (or former editors when they gave the lecture) have included Leonard Vivian Biggs, the Age (1938); Adrian Deamer, the Australian (1971); Graham Perkin, the Age (1974); Sir Larry Lamb, the Sun and the Daily Express (London) and the Australian (1982); and Pichai Chuensuksawadi, the Bangkok Post (1998).
In 1966, American journalism academic W. Sprague Holden drew particular attention in ‘to the low regard in which formal university training was held by many, if not most, Australian journalists’. Rupert Murdoch spoke on ‘Publishing Newspapers in the Seventies’ (1972) and Sir Frank Kitto’s subject was ‘The Press Council and the Future’ (1978). Several political figures have been invited to deliver the lecture, including Arthur Calwell, Bob Hawke, and Peter Beattie.
Working journalists, reporters and broadcasters have been well represented over the long life of the Arthur Norman Smith Memorial Lecture. They have included John Hetherington, whose topic was ‘The War Correspondent’s Craft’ (1943); E.W. (Bill) Tipping, on ‘The Nieman Experiment and Trends in American Journalism’ (1952); Douglas Gillison, on ‘A Reporter Looks at his Trade’ (1964); Michelle Grattan, on ‘Re- porting Federal Politics’ (1988); and Jon Faine, who chose the subject of ‘Defending Talkback Radio’ (2003).
The lecture has been published in periodical form by the University of Melbourne since it began in 1936, and is available through the National Library of Australia.
REFs: C.J. Lloyd, Profession: Journalist (1985); G.E. Sparrow, Crusade for Journalism (1960).