Sydney Ideas — Journalism, Resistance and Metadata

  • August 22, 2017
  • 6pm-7.30pm
  • Law School Foyer, Level 2, Sydney Law School, Eastern Avenue, the University of Sydney

A Sydney Ideas event copresented with the Department of Media and Communications, Sydney Democracy Network, the Sydney Cyber Security Network at the University of Sydney, and the Walkley Foundation.

Edward Snowden’s 2013 intelligence leaks unveiled the extent and sophistication of data collection undertaken by the United States’ National Security Agency and major global digital firms. The revelations prompted debates in the western world about the balance between security and privacy, accountability and secrecy, and freedom and control. It is difficult not to see a clear connection between the Snowden leaks and the sharp acceleration of new national security and data retention legislation in Australia, which is a long term member of the Five Eyes Alliance.

While reporters in the western world have had to adjust to the new context of continuous digital surveillance, journalists traditionally working in more controlled environments have developed embedded routines of ‘resistance’ within their daily practice.

This is certainly true in China, where both government agencies and private companies (who, by law are required to self-censor) employ a total of two million ‘internet opinion analysts’ to monitor, manipulate and censor content. However, the first law of Chinese cyberpolitics is: “where there are river crabs, there are grass-mud horses”. In other words, online censorship will always be met with resistance.

How are journalists in different countries, including Australia, the United States and China, coping with the new digital context within which they must work? Have they fully adopted the instruments of digital security that are currently available to protect their work and their sources? What can Australian reporters learn from the experiences of journalists who have found ways to confront and counter external attempts to control their work?

Come to a Sydney Ideas forum on these issues with journalists, academics and security experts. Supported by The Walkley Foundation, MEAA and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

This event is free but you must register.


• Paul Farrell, a senior reporter for Buzzfeed Australia, and former senior reporter for Guardian Australia. He is co-founder the Detention Logs website and was the lead reporter on the Guardian’s Nauru Files.
• Benedetta Brevini, Senior Lecturer in Communication and Media at the University of Sydney
• Julie Posetti, head of Digital Editorial Capability at Fairfax Media, and author UNESCO study titled Protecting Journalism Sources in the Digital Age.
• Gabor Szathmari, one of the six founders of CryptoAustralia