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The Correspondent May-June 2003 PDF Print E-mail
The Correspondent
(Journal of The Foreign Correspondents' Association)
May-June 2003


Newsletter Index An Evening with Thomas Keneally by Mark Chipperfield
Earlier this month, patrons at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel were treated to the intriguing sight of a gaggle of foreign correspondents in hard hats.
Observant guests may have noticed that among our number was best-selling author and self-confessed "Irish republican stirrer" Thomas Keneally. The occasion was the unofficial unveiling of the Marriott's soon-to-be-completed Thomas Keneally Room. Twenty-five FCA members attended.
The evening, which began with drinks and scrumptious finger food in the stylish cocktail lounge, offered the perfect chance to hobnob with the writer of Schindler's Ark, The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Flying Hero Class and many other books.
Mr Keneally (who has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize on four occasions) was clearly bemused by the builder's rubble, exposed wiring and other renovation detritus in his eponymous function room.
"As you can see they've furnished the room with my Irish relatives in mind," he joked. "They'd feel very much at home in here."
Mr Keneally said that in 20 years time he would like his young granddaughter to hold her wedding reception in the room.
Thomas Keneally
Photo credit: Urs Wälterlin
Would the naming rights entitle him to a discount?
Paul Rushton, the hotel's unflappable director of marketing, was non-committal on this point, but did say that he expected the Thomas Keneally Room to win a strong personal following.
Despite his joshing, the well-travelled writer said he was deeply honoured to have a room named after him especially for a poor Catholic lad who had grown up in Sydney's inner-west before the war.
"When I was a kid knocking around Homebush the city would have been dead after 6 o'clock," he recalled. "Sydney didn't much care for fun in those days. Look at how things have changed."
During his speech Mr Keneally admitted that he'd once harboured ambitions of becoming a foreign correspondent himself, a profession which seemed exotic, well-paid (guffaws from the audience) and endlessly exciting.
"I tried my hand covering the war in Eritrea, but I was a complete failure," he said. "I ended up writing a book instead."
After the site inspection, which included a tour through the hotel's vast and impressive kitchens, Mr Keneally and his wife Judy joined FCA members in the bar for a farewell drink.
A big thank-you to Paul Rushton and the Marriott staff who looked after us, and to Laura Speirs, Marriott's PR supremo, who came up with idea.

Newsletter Index Lawyers Pledge Support for Poor Journalists
LONDON: In a new initiative, several leading UK media and human rights lawyers have joined with the Commonwealth Press Union to provide pro bono legal assistance to less privileged journalists and newspapers in the developing Commonwealth.
Drawing from both barristers' chambers and solicitors' partnerships, the newly launched Commonwealth Legal Assistance Programme [which came into effect in March] aims to assist journalists in former British colonies in law, defamation, human rights and criminal cases.
The legal support programme is the brainchild of Harvey Kass, legal director of Associated Newspapers [publisher of The Daily Mail] and Associated lawyer Mary Russell, together with Vyvyan Harmsworth, corporate affairs director of Daily Mail and General Trust, and Lindsay Ross, the CPU's executive director.
"This is something I have dreamed of for many years," said Mr Ross. "During my time as press freedom director at the CPU, I was very conscious of the lack of credible legal advise to journalists and publishers, particularly in the developing Commonwealth, and this is a wonderful gesture by the UK legal profession.
"So much of the Commonwealth still takes a legal lead from the UK that I know this programme will be in great demand."
The following legal firms have so far pledged their services: Bindman & Partners, 1 Brick Court, Simons Muirhead & Burton, Doughty Street Chambers, Foot Anstey Sargent, Matrix Chambers, 5 Raymond Buildings, Reynolds Porter Chamberlin and Clifford Chance.
The programme was launched at the CPU's biennial conference and editors' forum in Sri Lanka, earlier this year.
The initiative was the centrepiece of the conference and was greeted with warm enthusiasm by both editors and publishers, many of whom immediately volunteered to help co-ordinate communications on a regional level.
The week of lively debate and cross pollination of experience coincided with the first anniversary of the ceasefire agreed between the Sri Lankan government and the rebel Tamil Tigers, the longest halt in hostilities in two decades of conflict.
It also offered an opportunity to start the ball rolling on initiatives designed to meet the needs of the Commonwealth's many small newspapers, from the Pacific to the Caribbean.
Given Sri Lanka's recent efforts to get repressive legislation off the statue books, its newspapers may not need the Legal Assistance Programme.
For those who do, advice will be available on a pre-publication basis the quick word which can help with the decision on whether to publish borderline material or not.
But it is expected that the majority of cases will be post-publication.
A pilot case is underway with support being given to the Gambia Press Union, based in the west African nation's capital, Banjul.
The participating lawyers have agreed to take up cases facing CPU member's newspapers. Desmond Browne QC spoke on behalf of the lawyers: "I and my colleagues are delighted to provide any help we can to ensure press freedom never goes undefended. We hope our experience with freedom of expression cases under the European Convention and the Human Rights Act can assist journalists and editors in every part of the Commonwealth".

Newsletter Index FCA In Ghan Takeover by Peter Hadfield
Credit where credit is due, the folks at Great Southern Railways know how to throw a bash. How better to snare a group of elusive journos than to send out invitations for a three-course lunch (with wine) on a railway carriage at Central Station? Of course, we flocked to it.
The lunch was designed to showcase the new Darwin-Alice Springs extension of The Ghan, the famous railway that follows the old Afghan camel trail of South Australia. At a news conference beforehand, Great Southern Railway's CEO Stephen Bradford explained that the new track would open up Australia's inaccessible interior, and would be less a means of getting to a holiday destination than a holiday in itself.
"The excitement and romance of actually seeing the country you're going through . . . it's something that so many international and domestic tourists really want to do," said Bradford. "In a flight you cross it in four hours and see nothing but the in-flight movie." The event at Platform Number One seems to have been primarily aimed at travel journalists, in order to spread the word about Australia's newest attraction.
Stephen Bradfield, Mark Chipperfield, Agneta Didrikson & Ken Boundy
Great Southern Railways CEO Stephen Bradfield, FCA Secretary Mark Chipperfield, FCA president Agneta Didrikson and Australian Tourist Commission MD Ken Boundy.
But newshounds could still find some nice angles in this unique story. It's also a good story for the financial pages, as the advantages of rail freight costs to Darwin will change the economics of Australian trade.
And it's a story for the technology pages the modern track-laying techniques of today contrast sharply with the pick-and-shovel gangs who clawed a path for the Indian-Pacific railway a century ago.
After all, where else in the world are they building a transcontinental railroad?
"It's one of the great infrastructure projects of Australia," says Bradford. "The biggest since World War Two, and three years in the making."
The optimistic forecasts of tourists who might flock to Australia to experience the new train came well before the SARS crisis, but Great Southern has a few months yet to wipe that problem from the equation.
By the time a train makes its inaugural run - some time in November or December this year - the SARS crisis may have passed into history. The public will have its chance to take a ride around January 2004.

Newsletter Index Indian editors size up Australia by Neena Bhandari
Australia is continuing its efforts to strengthen bilateral relations with India. With the aim to further raise the country's profile in the Indian media, three senior journalists were invited during April under the DFAT's International Media Visits programme.
Outlook Saptahik Editor Alok Mehta, Resident Editor in Delhi for the Malayalam Manorama group K S Sachidananda, Deputy editor of The Hindu Businessline Rasheeda Bhagat spent a week in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra to get a first hand experience of what Down Under has to offer in the fields of education, films, business and technology.
The public relations exercise is aimed at underlining and promoting the growing partnership between the two countries based on strong bilateral linkages, not just a shared colonial heritage and love of cricket.
Indian Editors
Saptahik Outlook's Editor-in-Chief Alok Mehta, Chair of Australia-India Business Council Neville Roach, Director NSW State Office Philip Green, Hindu Businesline Assistant Editor Rasheeda Bhagat, Indian Consul-General M Ganapathy, Malayalam Manorama's Resident Editor in Delhi K S Sachidananda Murthy and DFAT's James Dalton.
During the tour, the editors discussed growing educational linkages with the Federal Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson and had the opportunity to meet Indian students in Sydney and Melbourne.
There are currently around 9,000 Indian students in Australia compared to 2,600 in 1996 - a 35 per cent increase - making Australia the third preferred destination for Indians studying abroad after the US and the UK.
Forward projections suggest that by 2025 over one million international students will be enrolled in Australian institutions, and of that number more than 50 per cent will come from India and China.
The group also visited Cine Oz, NSW Film and Television Office and Fox Studios that highlighted the extent of the growing cooperation in the film making area.
A number of Indian blockbusters have been shot in Australia recently and Australian excellence in post-production techniques is being tapped increasingly by Bollywood, further raising Australia's profile in India.
They also discussed growing bilateral cooperation with Indian officers currently studying at the Australian Defence College in Canberra.
The editors explored people-to-people links and met several prominent Australian-Indians. The highlight of the programme was a visit to Yarra Brook Estate in Victoria, owned by Mr Victor Dhar, an Australian-Indian who is making Australian wine.
As International Media Centre director Diana Nelson remarked, "A key objective of the programme is to provide media representatives with a more detailed understanding of Australian social, economic, trade and political issues. The programme also aims to establish a pool of high level media contacts who are familiar with Australia and Australian issues and who will take an interest in reporting on Australia in the future, as new issues arise".
Each year, 30 to 40 international visitors are hosted by DFAT under its IMV programme. Participants are nominated by Australian Embassies abroad and on an average one media group visits Australia each month. In 2002-3, DFAT hosted journalists from India, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Iran, the European Union, the US, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Newsletter Index TravMedia.com special offer
INTERNATIONAL online travel information service TravMedia.com is making its services available to all FCA members free of charge. TravMedia, which has offices in Sydney, London and Los Angeles, operates a one-stop website for all travel information.
Each day, the site publishes hundreds of press releases from hotels, airlines, cruise ship lines, tour operators and other travel-related organisations.
By using the resources of Travmedia.com, journalists can quickly find current and archived media releases from key travel organisations and tourism industry members -- along with a library of high-resolution photographs.
Managing director Nick Wayland says the TravMedia is the ideal time management tool for media and "a perfect site for the hectic, travelling journalist" looking for travel-related stories. Financial members of the FCA will be allocated a user password enabling them to receive immediate notification of all key travel media announcements via a direct email alert.
If you'd like access to this valuable site simply register at www.travmedia.com and login as 'journalist'.

Newsletter Index News in Brief
A Home in San Francisco: The Overseas Press Club of America has announced the opening of its new club quarters in San Francisco. The new facility is housed in the Embarcadero Centre in 424 Clay Street, an ideal location for business and holiday visitors. The building offers quality hotel accommodation and a British style pub called the Elephant and Castle which serves 16 draft beers.
Reservations on +212-575-0006.

Magazine Relaunched: No 1 Shimbun, official organ of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, is being relaunched as a glossy monthly magazine.
In an even more radical departure, contributors will now be paid for their work, says new editor Bill Brocato. Some people might argue that this is a dangerous precedent for other, less well-off, clubs and associations. Don't get your hopes up ed.
When in Hanoi: The Press Club of Vietnam has written to advise that financial members of the FCA are entitled to a 10 per cent discount on food and drink bought at the Press Club in Hanoi.
The club's six storey premises are located at 59 A Ly Thai To street, in the heart of the city, and offer a wide range of snack bars, restaurants, conference and banqueting facilities.
The club, which was recently named The Best International Culinary Venue in Vietnam, has office space for rent, plus a suite of business services.
While there is no overnight accommodation at The Press Club, the desk can make the necessary arrangements for visiting correspondents.
For more information visit: ww.hanoi-pressclub.com or phone +844 934 0888
Australian Book Fair: The annual APA Australian Book Fair will take place at Sydney's Darling Harbour from June 19-20, 2003.
The fair provides a wide range of seminars, talks and workshops for the working, or aspiring author.
This year's topics include 'How to be Published' and 'Book Data You Can Trust'. There are also a number of industry-related awards ceremonies. The cost is $109 for non-members and $99 for members.
 
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