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Video clip synopsis – John Safran talks about the use of 'doorstopping' in current affairs programs. Scott Goodings traces the celebrity and entertainment value of today's news broadcasts to the 'news wars' of the late 1980s.
Year of production - 2005
Duration - 2min 57sec
Tags - broadcasting, communication, culture, current affairs programs, entertainment, media influence, media ownership, news media, see all tags


News as Entertainment

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Additional help.

About the Video Clip


The interviews with John Safran and Scott Goodings were recorded for the website From Wireless to Web, produced in 2005.

John Safran is a filmmaker and self-proclaimed media hooligan. Scott Goodings is a self-proclaimed 'TV freak’ and walking archive. You can view their full biographies 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


Area of study 3. Australian media organisations

This area of study focuses on an analysis of Australian media organisations and the social and industrial framework within which they operate.

Media products are produced within a cultural, aesthetic, legal, political, economic, institutional and historical framework. Their production, distribution and circulation is affected by law, self-regulatory codes of conduct, industry pressures and the practices of particular media organisations. Other factors (for example, sources of revenue, ratings, circulation, ownership and control) influence the nature and range of media texts produced by individual organisations. Consideration of the impact of these factors on media organisations and their products is important in developing an understanding of the production role of different Australian media organisations.

This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


In April 1993 news crews descended on a siege at a remote farmhouse west of Grafton in NSW. They outnumbered the police by more than two to one. It was being reported that five people were already dead, and two children were being held as hostages. Journalists phoned the farmhouse to interview the gunmen.

Media coverage of the appalling event was compulsive, and dominated prime-time news. Broadcasters competed for the best story, the best interview. Channel Nine’s A Current Affair secured a telephone line to the children who were captives in the house. 'Did you see anyone being killed? Have you enjoyed this adventure?’ compere Mike Willesee asked the eleven year old. Willesee also conducted an interview by phone with the fugitive responsible for killing and burning the body of a girl.

Coverage of the event was widely condemned by police, psychologists and media commentators. The line between reported news and entertainment had been blurred. The tricks of television entertainment television had been pilfered to spice up the news. But meantime audience ratings had soared, and the networks were quick to realise that there were profits to be gained from an 'infotainment’ approach to news and current affairs.

Classroom Activities


Answer the following questions from the Video Clip Context and the video clip

  1. Do you think current affairs shows have a responsibility to report the news objectively? Do you think it is possible to report objectively?
  2. What do you think was the main point that John Safran was making in the clip?
  3. Do you think any of the accusations levelled at current affairs shows by their critics are valid? Which ones and why?

Further Resources


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

Frontline (1994–1997). Produced and directed by Jane Kennedy, Tom Gleisner, Rob Sitch and Santo Cilauro.