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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 - audiences, communication, culture, entertainment, media and society, national identity, national interest, news media, newsreels, see all tags


Newsreels before sound

How to Download the Video Clip

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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


Inquiry Question
What was the contribution and significance of at least ONE Australian, ONE important event and ONE political development during the interwar period?

A student:
5.1 explains social, political and cultural developments and events and evaluates their impact on Australian life
5.4 sequences major historical events to show an understanding of continuity, change and causation
5.5 identifies, comprehends and evaluates historical sources
5.6 uses sources appropriately in an historical inquiry
5.7 explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the past
5.8 locates, selects and organises relevant historical information from a number of sources, including ICT, to undertake historical inquiry.

Students Learn About:
Section C: Event
The significance of at least ONE important event– the introduction of ‘talkies’

Students Learn To:

  • outline the main features and/or developments of the chosen event
  • explain the significance of the event to Australian history
This material is an extract. Teachers and students should consult the Board of Studies 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. Define the term ‘newsreel’.
    1. When and where were newsreels shown?
    2. What was a newsreel cinema?
    3. Why were newsreel cinemas popular?
  2. Describe the events that are shown in the 1926 Royal Show newsreel.
    1. The newsreel clip is silent. Would viewers in 1926 have watched it with no sound at all? Give a reason for your answer.
    2. List FIVE specific things that an historian researching life in Australia in the 1920s could learn from this newsreel.
  3. How did the introduction of sound affect or change Australian newsreels?
    1. Create a storyboard showing how this newsreel would change if sound was available to the filmmakers. Don’t just think about the sounds that the audience would now hear – include new sound dimensions such as interviews and a voiceover. Use the link below to help you to construct your storyboard.

Further Resources


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