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Video clip synopsis – Stuart Cunningham talks about how and why Australian content has changed over the last 40 years.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 5min 52sec
Tags - broadcasting, change and continuity, consumers, creativity, culture, digital technology, emerging technologies, identity, media and society, media convergence, technological change, technology and society, see all tags



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 indymedia_pr.mp4 (43.3MB).

ipod icon Broadband MP4 indymedia_bb.mp4 (20.4MB), suitable for iPods and computer downloads.

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About the Video Clip


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

Stuart Cunningham is Professor and Director of the Creative Industries Research & Applications Centre at the Queensland University of Technology. 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


Students explore how media and information and communication technologies are used to present issues and influence opinion.

Students have the opportunity to analyse media portrayal of current issues to explore viewpoints, bias and stereotypes.

Students investigate ways in which the media and ICT are used to influence citizens’ views.

Students investigate key events and ideas in the development of self government and democracy.

Background Information


We are proud of our ANZAC heritage and our traditions of mateship and comradeship. As a nation, we boast that we champion the underdog and give battlers a fair go. It is something of an irony that Australia’s traditional media – commercial broadcasters and print media – have been controlled for a long time by just a few family dynasties. There is little doubt that free speech gets 'filtered’ or restricted. Voices of dissent potentially hold back, fearing Australia’s libel and defamation laws. In this context, the Internet offers an alternative for people with something to say. Anyone with access to a computer can publish and broadcast on the Net. Libel laws may apply equally to the Web. But in cyberspace, who’s to say what’s true and what’s false?

In cyberspace, anybody can broadcast a message. Broadcasters on the Web are not subject to the controls of newspaper publishers, or radio and television licensees. This freedom has seen an explosion of independent media – or 'indymedia’ – sites on the Web.

The indymedia movement started with coverage of the World Trade Organisation protests in Seattle, USA in November 2000, and has grown into a network of portals to media hubs that defy national boundaries. The movement is founded on the premise that everyone is a witness, and everyone is a journalist.

“Indymedia centres have now sprung up all over the globe … within minutes photographs, text, video and audio material can be uploaded for all to see, reply to and add to within the one website. Unlike radio, television and newspapers where feedback is slow or non-existent, electronic forums such as this ensure quick interaction among all participants. Indymedia has been successful in empowering citizens by generating spaces for interaction at the local, national, and global level rather than being constrained to the specific representations by large media institutions.” [Gibson & Kelly, Arena magazine]

“The Oceania Indymedia network sees the process of building regional indymedia hubs as a means to work towards the linking of struggles, actions and celebrations, locally, regionally and globally. We hope this initiative will further the democratic process within the indymedia network through the creation of both regional media production and decision making structures.” [Oceania Indymedia website]

Indymedia sites are maintained for most Australian States, and these network via Oceania Indymedia. To publish, contributors work through their local indymedia site. Indymedia sites in Australia feature local stories on a broad range of issues: racism, migration, climate change, ecology, forestry, uranium mining and nuclear energy, the economy, human rights, work, health, gender and culture. The sites also cover local responses to global news and issues like the 'war on terror’, Third World debt, world health, and the global environment.

Classroom Activities


1. Discuss with students how many media creation devices (for example, iPod) they or the school (for example, intranet) owns. What might be some of the reasons why there appears to be so many different forms of devices? Discuss how and in what ways these devices can create media presentations. Are some devices more flexible to use? Reflect on what might be future trends in these media-creating devices and how they might affect our daily lives.

2. Investigate the meaning of the following words by brainstorming ideas, seeking dictionary definitions and then examining their use in the video clip – Indymedia, libel, defamation, cyberspace, censorship, freedom of speech, portals, media ownership.

3. In order to develop an historical perspective, students construct a time line, using data from the 2005 Professor Cunningham interview on the history of broadcast media in Australia. Students further develop their historical timelines by incorportaing key events and ideas. In small groups students select one event, for example, World War 2 or an idea, for example mateship, and explore the connection between the development of Australian broadcast media and the shaping of how Australians saw themselves. How and in what ways can media shape values, beliefs and national identity? What is meant by ‘filtered’ speech? Are all forms of media equally powerful in influencing citizen’s views?

4. Using the video clip, the internet and other sources, students investigate the ownership of media in Australia from print media through to radio,television and internet. Should most of the media in Australia be owned by a small number of family dynasties? What are the arguments for and against this situation? How is the use of information on the internet different from other media forms? Who owns this information? In a democracy should anyone be allowed to put any information of any kind on the internet? Is this freedom of speech?

Further Resources


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