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Video clip synopsis – The importance in Australian news broadcasting history of Movietone and other newsreels.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 1min 13sec
Tags - broadcasting, civics and citizenship, culture, current affairs programs, identity, media and society, newsreels, popular culture, television, see all tags


Fox Movietone News

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About the Video Clip


This interview with Ray Edmondson was recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

Ray Edmondson is the Former Deputy Director of the National Film and Sound Archive and is now honorary Curator Emeritus. You can view his 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 Questions:

  • What were the differing experiences of various groups during the interwar period?
  • 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


In 1929 the US-based company Fox International Movietone News produced its first successful Australian newsreel coverage with sound. The reports included an interview with the Prime Minister of Australia, James Scullin, and coverage of the 1929 Melbourne Cup. (Reade 12)

From this point onwards, newsreels were produced in Australia almost every week until October 1975. Sound newsreels gave the Australian people 'glimpses of world events, local news and a range of human interest stories’. (Bertrand 158)

Newsreels brought images of the nation to the screen – moving images that gave many Australians their first view of an enormous country beyond the familiar neighbourhood and home. Newsreels presented city life with its important civic and social occasions: celebrations of nationhood and the British Empire; socially significant births, deaths and marriages; and sporting spectacles featuring sun-bronzed Aussie lifesavers, footballers and tennis players. Newsreels also covered events in rural Australia, giving glimpses of the vast outback.

Classroom Activities

  1. List the THREE ways in which people received the news before the introduction of television.
  2. Name and describe the differences between the TWO newsreel companies operating in Australia during this time.
    1. How did the introduction of ‘talkies’ affect the way in which Australians got news?
    2. What does this video clip reveal about the impact of American culture in Australia in the 1930s and 40s?
    3. When did the last Australian newsreel company close?
  3. According to Ray Edmondson why did newsreels last so long in Australia?

Further Resources


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