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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 - identity, media and society, media industry, media production, news media, newsreels, representations, script writing, see all tags


Newsreels before sound

How to Download the Video Clip

To download a free copy of this Video Clip choose from the options below. These require the free Quicktime Player.

download clip icon Premium MP4 cinemanewsreels_pr.mp4 (15.7MB).

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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


Outcomes from this module

  • Observe, discuss and define aspects of the history of Australian newsreels.
  • Discuss the production of the archival clip in its historical context.
  • Compare the arhival clip and modern TV news production techniques and how audiences are targeted.
  • Script and deliver a narration voice-over to accompany a silent newsreel clip and choose appropriate music to accompany it.

Students are required to view and discuss media products from a variety of past and present social and cultural perspectives. Students should also demonstrate an understanding of how histories are constructed in media both reinforcing and challenging values in the social, cultural and historical contexts in which they are produced.
This is a guide only. Teachers and students should consult their state’s curriculum and learning programs.

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:
    1. Describe the way the archival video presents the news item, and the story the images tell. Consider camera shots- the angles used and types of shots; high, eye level and low to create the atmosphere of the show.
    2. Describe the types of events that were typically filmed by newsreel camera crews and screened to Australian audiences.
    3. In what ways were newsreel cinemas different from normal cinemas?
  2. In what main ways is this archival footage different from TV news items? View a selection and note:
    1. the pace of the video
    2. how sound contributes to the modern news item
    3. how the particular subject is presented in both the archival and modern clips (any evidence of bias, for example?)
  3. Scripting, timing and presenting a newsreel narration.
    Time the running length of the 1926 Royal Melbourne Show video clip, then in groups, 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. You may be able 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 with the video.

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