Walkley Award-winning writer and professor Wendy Bacon is the acting director of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney, an investigative journalist and non-practising media lawyer, a long-time political activist, and has worked and taught around the world. Wendy campaigned against censorship in the 1970s and writes about those experiences for Overland in her article ‘Being free by acting free’.
Wendy chats with Overland intern Clare Strahan about what’s the same and different about activism from the early ’70s to now; the conservatism of academia; feminism and women in prison; the constraints of media professionalism; the digitalisation of early editions of Tharunka, the flowering of the alternative press and the need for diversity in the media; and the inspiration of WikiLeaks.
[Activism] was a minority then [late 1960s and early 1970s] but even saying that, there is no doubt that universities today are much more conservative. And people really are afraid to speak out. Back then, academics would be part of the student publications and there’d be debates between academics and people would really take on the administration. But today you know … in terms of commentating on the workplace where they work, I think most academics would be really quite intimidated … Now, as for the students, they are still quite radical but, say at a uni like the one I work at, people are so sort-of geared into getting a job that what sort of activism they have tends to go into experiments in journalism or in their work experience and in other disciplines and that sort of thing. Whereas before, people didn’t worry so much in their youth about getting a job … the atmosphere was very different.
Here, Wendy gives a speech at a WikiLeaks rally in New South Wales: ‘there are things more important than obstructing a few people on their way home from work.’
Wendy has embraced new technology and has been working with e-learning and blogging as educational tools – visit her blog: wendybacon.com