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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 - newsreels, see all tags


Newsreels before sound

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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.

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


Making and Producing

School Silent Newsreel Project

  1. View the archival footage of Royal Melbourne Show.
  2. Students have to produce a silent newsreel through digital video and motion graphics.
    1. Divide the class into small production groups (between 3–5 students in each group). Each production team must produce a story for the newsreel project based on a school theme. The segment is to be no longer than 4 minutes.
    2. Each production team must complete the following
  3. Video work – students are to shoot the story. They should consider the development of shots and style of coverage and whether the camera will be hand held or on a tripod. Student should decide on the most effective viewpoint to use in their story (either a subjective or objective viewpoint).
  4. Motion Graphics – students to develop title and diagrams for the newsreel to assist in telling the story. Newsreels had a specific and identifiable look – students are asked to develop their own stylized look (this could include a logo).

Critical and Historical study

  1. Watch the interview with Liz Jacka. Outline the differences between cinema newsreels and television news broadcast.
  2. Provide a historical account of the development of newsreels in Australia. In your account provide information on the type of stories that were developed, how it connected with the audience and why you think newsreels became redundant by the 1970s.
  3. Newsreels locate events and issues within a visual context allowing the audience to discover certain truths about their world. To a contemporary audience the newsreels of the past offer a historic window of the past in terms of what people thought was ‘newsworthy’. Compare and contrast the differences between the subject matter of these historic newsreels (refer to archival footage) and the stories covered by current affair programs such as Sixty Minutes, Foreign Correspondent, A Current Affair and other programs. Is there a difference? Can you possibly explain why there is a difference or similarity?

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