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Video clip synopsis – Newsreels included events of both political and social importance and were screened all day long in specially designed cinemas.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 2min 8sec
Tags - changing communities, culture, identity, media production, newsreels, script writing, see all tags


Newsreels before sound

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Additional help.

About the Video Clip


The video clip Royal Melbourne Show is an Australasian Gazette newsreel and is from the National Film and Sound Archive collection, a division of the Australian Film Commission. Royal Melbourne Show is on the From Wireless to Web website, produced in 2005.

This interview with Liz Jacka was recorded for the website.
Liz Jacka is an Author and Professor in Communications Studies for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney. You can view her full biography at From Wireless to Web

The website is a selective history of broadcast media in Australia. Decade by decade, from radio and newsreels to TV and the internet, this history shows how the Australian broadcast media developed and shaped the way Australians see themselves.

From Wireless to Web is a Film Australia production in association with Roar Film.

Curriculum Focus


In this English unit students will:

  • observe, discuss and define aspects of the history of Australian newsreels
  • script and deliver a narration voice-over to accompany a silent newsreel clip
  • research historical information about Australian newsreel companies then present it for a specific audience and media format
  • write, edit and proofread a short fiction story.

Reading Standard: students view, analyse and discuss a wide range of informative and persuasive texts and identify the multiple purposes for which they are created. They compare and contrast the typical features of particular texts and synthesise information from different texts to draw conclusions.

Writing Standard: students write sustained and cohesive narratives that experiment with different techniques and show attention to chronology, characterisation, consistent point of view and development of a resolution. They write persuasive texts that support the presentation of different perspectives on complex themes and issues. They proofread and edit their own writing for accuracy, consistency and clarity.

Speaking and Listening Standard: students analyse critically the relationship between texts, contexts, speakers and listeners in a range of situations. They draw on a range of strategies to listen to and present spoken texts, complex issues or information imaginatively to interest an audience.

The activities in this unit are relevant to the Interdisciplinary Learning strands of Level 6 Communications (Listening, Viewing and Responding standard; Presenting standard), and Thinking Processes (Reasoning, Processing and Inquiry standard; Creativity standard).

The activities are also relevant to the Physical, Personal and Social Learning strand of Level 6 Interpersonal Development (Building Social Relationships standard; Working in Teams standard), and Personal Learning (The Individual Learner standard; Managing Personal Learning standard).

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


Before radio and television, people were kept up-to-date on current affairs by reading a newspaper, or by watching the newsreels that screened as a regular part of the cinema programming. Newsreels were screened along with film previews, cartoons and features.

Before the days of 'talking pictures’, Australian newsreel production thrived, with Australasian Gazette, Pathe’s Animated Gazette and Paramount Gazette, plus various local and regional newsreel productions. By 1926 Australasian Gazette had reached Issue No. 820, and Paramount Gazette Issue No. 490. (King)

The advent of films with sound made the production of newsreels more expensive, leading to the demise of Australia’s smaller, independent producers. Examples of these pre-sound newsreels have been preserved at the Australian National Film & Sound Archive (NFSA).

Classroom Activities

  1. Getting started
    As a class view the archival video clip of the 1926 Royal Melbourne Show, and the interview with Liz Jacka then discuss and write notes on the following:
    1. Describe the sequential order of the archival video’s camera shots, and the story the images tell.
    2. Describe the types of events that were typically filmed by newsreel camera crews and screened to Australian audiences. (Jacka interview)
    3. In what ways were newsreel cinemas different from normal cinemas?
  2. Scripting, timing and presenting a newsreel narration
    Time the running length of the 1926 Royal Melbourne Show video clip, then plan and draft a script for it, as though it were a voiceover description to be delivered by a narrator. Make sure the narration suits the on-screen images, and that its running time is no longer than the length of the video clip. Practise reading it out loud within the time limit, then deliver your narration to your teacher while the newsreel is screening on the computer screen. An alternative may be to record your narration, with a suitable music soundtrack, which can be used during pauses in the commentary, so that it may be played simultaneously on cassette with the video.
  3. Writing for a popular magazine
    In pairs research and prepare a two-page illustrated history of the Movietone and Cinesound newsreel production companies for a popular magazine. Use word-processing or desktop publishing software to create your presentation.
  4. Preparing a short story
    Write, edit and proofread a short story comedy about two rival newsreel teams trying to film the same event. Examples may be the airport arrival of a famous movie star, the Melbourne Cup, or a fashion parade of 1935.

Further Resources


Go to From Wireless to Web for more about the history of broadcast media in Australia.

Go to Barrie King. Newsreels, The Moving Image: The History of Film and Television in Western Australia 1895–1985

Go to Cinesound-Movietone Newsreel Collection 1929–1975

Ken G. Hall, Australian Film: The Inside Story, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1977

Phillip Noyce (director), Newsfront, Roadshow Films, 1978